After a lengthy attempt by the Hazelwood City Council to negotiate in good faith with the Robertson Fire Protection District (RFPD) to help relieve the City of an unsustainable burden, Council members decided it was futile to work collaboratively with the RFPD.
For the past 23 years, Hazelwood has faithfully made payments to the RFPD in accordance with a formula established by the contract. However, the City’s payments have increased from $1,160,946 annually in 1995 to $3,570,062 in 2017, an increase of 206 percent. This is mainly due to the fact that the RFPD has increased its property tax rate to $2.54 in just 23 years.
The annual fees that Hazelwood is being forced to pay has created a financial crisis which looms over the people who live and work in Hazelwood. Vital services provided by the City and its solvency are being put at risk by the excessive fees which the City is required to pay RFPD every year. Yet, the RFPD has shown no interest in working with the City of Hazelwood in resolving this problem.
After reaching the point of wasting $28,000 of taxpayers’ hard-earned money and exhausting efforts in structuring an alternative arrangement with RFPD, the Council voted to terminate its contract with the RFPD on December 20, 2017.
Effective January 1, 2019, the City of Hazelwood will be providing fire and EMS services to residents living in the area once served by the RFPD. When this area was first annexed by Hazelwood, it was still within RFPD’s jurisdiction so the City entered into a contract in 1994 with the RFPD, calling for the City to make payments to the RFPD — on behalf of the residents — for their fire and EMS services.
The Hazelwood City Council intends to follow through with terminating the contract with RFPD. According to Mayor Matthew Robinson, “The City of Hazelwood has a duty to all its citizens and property owners to provide a full range of quality municipal services on a cost-effective basis.”