Rules for Missouri Fire Protection Districts

XX. Additional Resources

There are many possible sources of information; however, it is always important to decide on the value and usability of information from each source. Of course, one of the most important sources of information should be an FPD’s attorney because an attorney, competent in FPD law, has understanding of the law through years of practices and is able to balance different sections of law, sometimes conflicting law, and case law to give learned opinions.

FPD attorneys will give clients answers that sometimes are frustrating. Answers to, “Is it legal?” truly may be unknown because there has been no judicial interpretation — often the safest answer might be, “you probably shouldn’t do that.” Answers to “Can we do it?” may be more of a political situation than a legal question — the FPD board may need to use its collective wisdom to decide between “we can do it” versus “we should do it.”

In some cases the Missouri attorney general may have already offered an opinion on a particular matter. State elected officials are allowed to request opinions from the attorney general. However, until there is a judge’s ruling on the matter, an attorney general opinion is the opinion of another attorney, albeit the state’s attorney.

There is also the ice skating analogy. Yes, a person can skate on thin ice, but why chance it? FPD boards should always try to “skate on the thickest ice possible” when considering a particular course of action.

If an FPD board and its attorneys absolutely cannot determine a course of action, then the law (321.080; 321.450) says the courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all matters of the FPD and are open at all times and should be a priority as a matter of public interest and concern.

FPDs should also make sure they build relationships with county officials such as the county clerk (handles elections in most counties and handles tax levy forms), the collector (forwards property tax revenue), etc.

A list of additional resources follows, including influential organizations that may be worthy of membership and contributions of time and talent.