Rules for Missouri Fire Protection Districts
Parenthetical numbers in the text refer to sections of the current Revised Statutes of Missouri, abbreviated as RSMo.
In ordinary language, the conflict-of-interest law provides that officials will not do business with themselves (105.450–105.466). It says officials may not be paid or receive anything of value for official actions, beyond the statutory salary. Nor may they use information gained in an official capacity to benefit them or another, or official acts to benefit spouse or children (105.452). These rules cover elected officials and all public employees.
The prohibitions in the conflict-of-interest law not only cover the time a person serves in office or works for a public entity but also extend for a year afterward. This “follow-on ban” covers actions that could influence decisions of the district, or dealing in a business with any matter that came before the district while the person was in office or working there.
Working for or renting to the district
The law limits any paid work for the district by an appointed official to $500 per transaction and $1,500 per year beyond the official’s regular salary. Rent, sale or lease of property is limited to the same amounts (105.454).
An exception is provided when a competitive bid is taken and the official’s bid is lowest [105.454(E1)]. Board members are prohibited from working for the district for pay, but may sell, rent or lease within dollar limits upon low bid. However, note that in this exception, the language is not the “lowest and best” but the absolute low-dollar bid. Keep in mind that the dollar limit is firm, regardless of circumstances. Above $1,500, any official’s work is unpaid, period.
Officials’ business interests
The law likewise limits businesses with which an official or an official’s family members are affiliated to the $500 per transaction, $1,500 per year maximum. Having substantial interest in a business is defined as the official or family member owning 10 percent or more, having an interest worth $10,000 or more, or drawing $5,000 or more annual salary. If the board president’s husband works at a local restaurant and is paid over $5,000 per year, the president has a substantial interest in that restaurant and the district holiday party should be held somewhere else.
The first conviction for violating the conflict-of-interest law is a Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of six months’ confinement and/or a $500 fine. Every additional offense is a Class D felony, with a maximum punishment of five years’ confinement and/or a $5,000 fine.
Officials of an FPD that has a budget of $1 million or more are required to fill out a Financial Statement for Political Subdivisions Disclosure form and file it with the Missouri Ethics Commission. More information and copies of the form are available at http://moethics.mo.gov.