Labor supported propositions on the ballot Tuesday, Nov. 7

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Tuesday, Nov. 7, is municipal Election Day. There are several local Labor-supported propositions on the ballot. Here’s a look at a few of them.

ST. LOUIS CITY – PROP. P

The St. Louis Labor Council has unanimously endorsed Proposition P, a half-cent sales tax for St. Louis City police and fire fighter salaries and public safety.

St. Louis County voters, in April, passed a tax proposal, also called Proposition P, to fund salary increases for St. Louis County Police Department officers. When the county raises go into effect, St. Louis City officers will be paid $10-20,000 less, putting increased pressure on the City to increase its salaries or continue to lose officers to other jurisdictions.

“They’re losing a lot of really good officers to the county, almost on a daily basis, because of the deserved raise county voters approved,” Labor Council President Pat White said.

St. Louis’s Interim Police Chief Lawrence O’Toole said the goal is to keep salaries for St. Louis police officers competitive with surrounding jurisdictions.

“If we can get this to pass, we’ll still be lower than what they make in St. Louis County, but we make up for it because we have a really good pension system,” O’Toole said. “We have good officers in the city. They like working for the city. But we have to be competitive.”

If approved, the sales tax is expected to raise more than $20 million a year. O’Toole said part of those funds will be used to tear down derelict buildings in the city, which he called “crime havens,” and fund after school programs.

Mark Woolbright, International Association of Fire Fighters 2nd District vice president, said St. Louis City Firefighters Local 73 is firmly in support of the proposition.

Proposition P is the only measure on the city ballot.

ROCKWOOD LABOR CLUB: EUREKA FPD – PROP. S

The Rockwood Labor Club is urging members to support the Eureka Fire Protection District’s Proposition S.

The proposed .25/$100 assessed value property tax increase will allow the district to hire nine additional full-time fire fighter/paramedics. The last time the district asked for a general revenue tax increase was 1985.

“This increase is about safety for both the community and the first responders we rely on,” Rockwood Labor Club President Marty McClimens (Plumbers and Pipefitters Local 562) said. “This is well overdue.”

The Eureka Fire Protection District covers 82 square miles with three engine houses.

“Over the last three years alone, we have incurred an 18 percent increase in our call volume,” Deputy Chief Brad Dickinson said.

Dickinson said all three engine houses are currently “cross staffed,” meaning if the ambulance receives a call, the firetruck at that engine house is no longer manned.

Although citizens are still protected by the other engine houses and by mutual aid agreements with other fire districts, Dickinson said hiring additional fire fighter/paramedics will increase the District’s response capabilities by reducing the need to cross staff firetrucks and ambulances.

If approved, Proposition S would cost the owner of a home valued at $150,000 an additional $71.25 annually, or $5.93 per month. For a home valued at $250,000, the cost would be $118.75 annually, or $9.89 per month. For a home valued at $350,000 home, the cost would be $166.25 annually or $13.85 per month.

JEFFERSON COUNTY LABOR CLUB: ANTONIA FPD – PROP. FIRE SAFETY

The Jefferson County Labor Club has endorsed Antonia Fire Protection District’s “Proposition Fire Safety,” a 50-cent property tax to protect the jobs of 14 fire fighters.

The Antonia Fire Protection District provides emergency services to 36 square miles of fast growing northeastern Jefferson County and currently operates with two full-time fire stations and one volunteer fire station.

“The demand for our services has increased, and for the past six years the cost of these services has continually outpaced our revenues,” Fire Chief Michael Arnhart said. “The number of emergency responses has increased, and operating costs have increased as well.”

Since 1998, Arnart said, the cost of fire trucks and fire fighter protective gear has nearly doubled.

In March of this year, the fire district was awarded a federal SAFER Grant to hire 14 fire fighters, allowing the district to place four fire fighters on each fire truck, but the grant is only good for two years. Proposition Fire Safety will allow the district to maintain current staffing levels, with all three fire stations staffed around the clock to reduce response times during emergencies. Passage of the measure will also reduce the district’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating and resulting in lower premiums for residents.

If approved, the measure would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $95 a year.

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