City Challenges Constitutionality Of Law Requiring Payment To Fire District

The City of Crestwood, Missouri is challenging the constitutionality of state laws that require it to pay the Affton Fire Protection District to provide services to an annexed area of the city when the city has its own fire department.

The suit was filed today in Cole County Circuit Court naming the Affton Fire Protection District, Governor Eric Greitens and Attorney General Josh Hawley as defendants. It alleges that the required annual payments to the the Affton Fire Protection District amount to taxation without representation, and the laws that mandate the payments violate the Missouri Constitution’s prohibition against special laws that treat certain parts of St. Louis County differently than other counties.

At the center of the controversy is an area that the city annexed in 1997 that was formerly protected by Affton FPD. According to the Call, Crestwood officials believe they can save at least $50,000 a year by having the Crestwood Fire Department provide coverage to the annexed area as opposed to paying AFPD.

The suit alleges that the present situation leaves city taxpayers with no voice in AFPD financial affairs, and a statutory obligation to fund the district.

According to a press release by Crestwood Mayor Gregg Roby:

  • Crestwood residents are being forced to subsidize the operations of the Affton Fire Protection District.
  • It’s taxation without representation.
  • The area Crestwood annexed makes up only a tiny portion of the Affton Fire Protection District.
  • When Affton increases its tax levy, as they did in 2012 and again in 2017, most Crestwood residents don’t get a say, but we are stuck with the ever-increasing bills.
  • We’ve seen our annual payment to Affton double since 2001— from $219,000 to $444,000 in 2016.

More on the story.

About Curt Varone

Curt Varone has over 40 years of fire service experience and 30 as a practicing attorney licensed in both Rhode Island and Maine. His background includes 29 years as a career firefighter in Providence (retiring as a Deputy Assistant Chief), as well as volunteer and paid on call experience. He is the author of two books: Legal Considerations for Fire and Emergency Services, (2006, 2nd ed. 2011, 3rd ed. 2014) and Fire Officer's Legal Handbook (2007), and is a contributing editor for Firehouse Magazine writing the Fire Law column.
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