Chouteau Board of Trustees called a special meeting Friday to discuss two firefighters.
The meeting was called to order at 7:30 a.m.
The board entered an executive session for the purpose of discussion and consideration regarding taking full-time firefighters Assistant Chief Keith Brandon and Captain Billy Wishard back to volunteer status.
In a show of support, many Chouteau firefighters attended.
Brandon joined the Chouteau Fire Department in 2003 and became full-time in 2005. Wishard joined the department in 2009 and became full-time in 2012.
Immediately after calling the meeting to order, the board entered executive session and did not return to the regular meeting until 8:25 a.m.
After returning to open meeting, new board member Randy Grossman made a motion to take no action regarding Brandon, pending he submit an application for medical retirement. Grossman made a motion to take no action regarding Wishard.
The remaining board members, Cecil Lane, David Morgan, Brenda Cunningham and Mayor Jerry Floyd all voted to approve the motions.
With no other discussion, the meeting was adjourned.
Fire Chief Ted Key said Chouteau is currently a combination department and switching to all volunteer would not change its operation.
Floyd said the change in employment is all a matter of city budget.
In regard to the speculation that the money saved in payroll from this change would be put in the Chouteau Police Department fund, Floyd said, “No, no that's not the case. It's not going to the police department. We've cut budget across the board.”
He said that should these changes take place, the money saved would go into a general fund.
“We've got a shortfall in our estimated revenue so we're trying to make up the difference,” said Floyd.
He said the change would save the city $72,000 per year.
“We've had raises every year for the past 12 years,” said Floyd. “This is the first year that it's really hit us. We're trying to attract new businesses to make up the tax base.
“Some people think we enjoy this. We don't, it's heartbreaking,” said Floyd.
He said that some groups, including the Chouteau Fire Department, offered to take pay cuts or surplus unused equipment to prevent the change.
“They wanted the whole town to take a cut. People live from paycheck to paycheck, we don't want to cut payroll,” said Floyd.
No action was taken and the issue will be discussed further at future meetings.