The Central County Fire & Rescue (CCFR) Board of Directors placed Prop. R on the Tuesday, Nov. 3 ballot. If approved by voters, the proposal would provide funding to honor retirement commitments to all CCFR firefighters.
“When we hire our firefighters, we make a commitment to provide them with a competitive salary, training opportunities, a safe work environment and the opportunity to retire with dignity. Funding from Prop. R would allow us to honor this commitment,” said CCFR Board President Dave Tilley.
Residents approved the firefighter’s retirement fund tax rate in 1991, nearly 30 years ago. Since then, it has not increased, despite providing retirement funds for nearly four times the number of employees.
Not only has the rate not increased in nearly three decades, it has actually decreased. Due to responsible financial planning, the District has been able to fund retirement commitments through economic highs and lows, and an 18% reduction in the rate caused by state regulations. But, after close to 30 years, this is simply no longer possible.
“Through the years, we have strived to maintain the high level of service our residents expect and deserve. Unfortunately, this has taken a toll on the ability of our firefighters to comfortably retire at a reasonable age, with many of them fighting fires well into their 60s,“ said Tilley.
Firefighters have one of the highest rates of injuries and illnesses of all occupations. The biggest dangers firefighters face are an increased risk of cancer, heart disease, PTSD, and most recently, exposure to COVID-19. These risks increase the longer a firefighter serves and the older they are.
Many of the District’s firefighters are close to 50-years-old, or older, with more than two decades of service to the community.
If approved, the plan will cost the owner of a $200,000 home $3.17 per month, similar to the cost of a gallon of milk. Voters can request mail in and absentee ballots from the St. Charles County Election Authority at www.election.sccmo.org or by calling 636-949-7550. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 3, polls will be open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m.