The figures are in.
Talk at a recent Monarch Fire Protection Board of Directors meetings indicated no one was upset at being overcharged for fire dispatching in 2011, or that residents of the fire district will be overcharged again in 2012.
In 2011 the average cost to dispatch a fire or EMS call via the Central County Emergency 911 (CCE911) fire dispatch center in Ellisville was $106.47.
Residents of the Monarch District were charged $163.84 per call. Town and Country paid more at $169.40 a call, but they bailed out in a way, and will pay less in 2012.
Chesterfield residents are left holding the bag to underwrite the dispatch service.
(See supporting documents under PDFs with photo at right.)
The shared center dispatches fire and EMS calls for nine fire districts and fire departments (plus charges the City of Town and Country for dispatch calls.)
Revenue for the dispatch center is based on assessed valuation of real estate property in each of the original communities that created the fire dispatch center. They are:
- Creve Coeur FPD,
- Maryland Heights FPD,
- Metro West FPD,
- Monarch FPD,
- West county EMS &FPD and the
- City of Town and Country.
Fifteen months ago, one of my first columns showed Monarch residents paying $42 too much for every call dispatched in 2009. After two years, overcharging has gone up to $57 a call—a 37 percent hike.
Since Chesterfield and Town and Country have the highest assessed property valuation of the original stakeholders of the dispatch center, they have had to pay far more than the other districts.
Town and Country leaders said enough and gave up their ownership rights of the dispatch center, and are on a simple service contract. Based on 2011 volume, in 2012 Town and Country dropped its cost per call to $111 and saving about $118,000 a year.
Chesterfield residents who pay a .05 property tax per $100 assessed valuation for fire dispatching are not catching much of a break in 2012—saving only about $60,000 total due to lower assessed property values.
Monarch residents would be paying $154 per call this year, with an average call at $104, based on similar call volume.
To add insult to the matter, CCE911 took on two new contract agencies late in 2011, Frontenac Fire Department and Des Peres Public Safety Department.
Frontenac pays on average $27.76 per call—$136 less than the folks in the Monarch FPD. But I think we can all admit that properties in Frontenac are actually more expensive than in Chesterfield.
At recent Monarch Fire Board meetings there was talk of what an excellent job CCE911 dispatchers do.
An official from Local 2662 of the firefighters union spoke against a move that would allow St. Louis County to take over Monarch fire dispatch and pay for it through the countywide 911 sales tax. It could also mean a tax reduction for Chesterfield residents.
But the dispatchers at CCE911 are all members of Local-2662.
The question has to be asked: Why would Monarch Fire Protection District residents be double taxed for dispatch services, with a five percent property tax and a sales tax dedicated to 911 services?
Editor's note: The 911 tax so far has paid for sirens, not dispatch.
Here were the 2011 average costs per dispatch by Ellisville-based CCE911:
Town and Country $169.40
Monarch FPD 163.84
Creve Coeur FPD 114.06
Metro West FPD 113.93
Average Cost 106.47
Maryland Heights FPD 100.34
Meramec Amb Dist 51.38
St. Clair FPD 51.22
Des Peres PSD 31.91
Frontenac FD 27.76