Rules for Missouri Fire Protection Districts
FPD elections for directors are held on municipal-election day, which is the first Tuesday after the first Monday in April (115.121.3; 321.210). This minimizes costs because election costs are divided proportionally among all entities holding elections on a particular day (115.063; 115.065; 115.077; 321.220 ; 321.600)). The April election has the greatest number of potential ballot issues, with the schools, cities and all districts participating.
Besides April, other available election days for FPDs are in the following months:
- February (only for bond issues and limited other purposes);
- August; and
With two exceptions, FPD boards are responsible to call for all elections. If the county clerk or board of election commissioners reminds an FPD board of its responsibility for a director election, it is only as a courtesy. If an FPD board forgets to call for a director election, the FPD’s attorney will have to petition the court for a resolution, which could include reprinting ballots if the court allows for a special, abbreviated filing period or more likely, holding an August or special election (which could be more expensive if there is no other local government to share the election costs). Either way, the resolution will usually come with a court admonishment for the FPD board to never forget to call for a director election again.
A recall election, along with the election of a replacement director if the recall is successful, is the responsibility of the county clerk or board of election commissioners, not the FPD (see Chapter IV. Initiative, Referendum and Recall).
Elections are conducted by the county clerk or the board of election commissioners. In fact, the law says that county clerks and boards of election commissioners are the election authority (115.015), which gives them broad jurisdiction over FPD elections.
Other FPD elections include:
|Property and sales taxes, including pensions||321.225, 321.240-244, 321.246-247, and 321.620|
|Increase of directors||321.120.5|
|Consolidation||321.460, 321.687 and 321.688|
Payments for estimated election costs are due to the county clerk or board of election commissioners the third Tuesday before the election. After the election, overpayments are to be promptly refunded or any remainder due must be paid by the fifth Tuesday after the election (115.077.2).
FPDs are eligible to have mail-in elections. This provision allows the county clerk or board of election commissioners to conduct an election by mail if requested in writing by the FPD; however, mail-in elections are only allowed when the election doesn’t involve an elected official being recalled or a candidate, and when only the FPD voters are voting. That is, there are no other jurisdiction’s questions on the ballot.
Posts to be filled
The only elected officials of an FPD are the board members. Everyone else is elected, appointed, designated or hired by the board, including the office staff, fire chief, volunteers, and the secretary and the treasurer. After the original board completes staggered terms, so that all members will not come up for election at the same time, terms are for six years; however, board members in St. Charles County FPDs serve four-year terms (321.120.4).
FPDs are eligible to have a non-election. This provision allows local governments with nonpartisan elections to skip holding an election if the number of candidates who file is no greater than the number of open seats (115.124). When these conditions are met, no election is needed, and the candidate is declared elected without ever appearing on a ballot or any votes being cast. The candidate assumes the responsibilities of office at the same time and in the same manner as if he or she had been elected.
This provision can cause problems. In one FPD, a woman thought no one was filing for a board seat that was coming open. Rather than see it blank on the ballot, she filed. Later, when someone who was more serious about the position filed, she offered to drop out. The board, eager to save the costs of an election, offered to reimburse her costs for getting a court order to remove her name. She became suspicious of the board’s motives and changed her mind about withdrawing.
Order of events
The sequence in which a new director is elected (or an incumbent director re-elected) is laid out by law.
- The current FPD board calls for the director election and the candidate filing period, which works out to be mid-December to mid-January, because the law says the filing period opens the 16th Tuesday before the election and closes the 11th Tuesday before the election (115.127.5);
- The FPD publishes a newspaper notice of the director election, candidate filing period, and the proper place for filing, which is the headquarters for the FPD (115.127.5; 321.130.1; 321.210);
- During mid-December to mid-January, candidates file declarations of their candidacy with the FPD secretary, which is an oath that they possess all the qualifications for office (321.130.1; 321.130.4) and pay the FPD a $50 filing fee (321.130.1; 115.357.1(2); 321.210);
- In late January, no later than 5 p.m. on the 10th Tuesday before the election (a week after the candidate filing period ends), the FPD must notify the county clerk or board of election commissioners of the election and candidates, which is in the form of a certified copy of the legal notice to be published by the county clerk or board of election commissioners (115.125; 321.130.4; 321.210); Note: Unless the motion or resolution calling for the director election and candidate filing also authorizes the FPD board secretary to notify the county clerk or board of election commissioners, in order to meet the deadline, the FPD board will have to meet for such authorization within a week after candidate filing ends.
- The county clerk or the board of election commissioners conducts the election;
- The verification board or the board of election commissioners certifies the election results to the FPD within 14 days of the election (115.507);
- The current, now outgoing FPD board declares election results, typically based on the certified election results; however, sometimes circumstances may dictate that the candidate with the most number of votes might not be declared the winner (due to death of the candidate, withdrawal by the candidate, refusal to serve by the candidate, the candidate no longer being qualified, etc.);
- The outgoing FPD board, having no further orders of the day (new business would be out of order for an outgoing board), adjourn sine die — which, in Latin, means to never meet again (board members not re-turning to the board may want to say a few departing remarks before adjournment); Note: Before adjourning sine die, because the outgoing board is not going to meet again to approve the minutes of its last meeting, the out-going board should appoint a committee to approve the minutes of its last meeting — typically the committee is the new, incoming board or at least the incumbents of the new, incoming board.
- The director-elect takes the oath or affirmation (see Oath of office under Chapter III. Officials and Board Operations, especially for information on timely filing of oaths with the circuit clerk); For a calendar with the various election-related dates already figured out, see the Missouri Secretary of State’s website: https://www.sos.mo.gov/ elections/calendar/2020cal An example of the agenda for the outgoing and incoming boards is provided in the Sample Forms section of this manual. 74 Ballard Local Government Series — University of Missouri Extension
- The secretary, as the highest ranking officer of the FPD (the chair and vice chair no longer exist because the outgoing board no longer exists), calls to order the incoming FPD board;
- The secretary’s power is short-lived however, as the first order of business is the election of the board chair and FPD president to a new two-year term — even if it’s the same chair/president as the outgoing board (321.170);
- The oath of office is administered to the new chair/president — even if it is the same person that was chair/president of the outgoing board;
- The chair’s first order of business is the election, appointment and delegation of other officers to their new two-year terms of office (see the Officers section of Chapter III. Officials and Board Operations), for example, vice president/vice chair if the FPD has such a role; the secretary; the custodian of records; the treasurer; and the budget officer (321.170; 321.210; 610.023.1; 67.020);
- Oaths of office are administered to the new officers — even if the same individuals are the same officers as before;
- The first meeting of the new, incoming FPD board continues to adjournment; however, unfinished business would be out of order because all unfinished business “died” with the outgoing board.