By Stephen Mayer, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
BELTON, MO (KCTV) -
Belton firefighters traditionally join in an effort to help raise funds for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, but legalities may stymie those efforts.
The Belton City Council is debating whether taxpayers should pay for firefighters to do charity work on Labor Day.
For the past two decades, firefighters have participated in the "Fill the Boot" where motorists and others are asked to make donations to the MDA. Firefighters do this while they are working, and thus get paid for their charity work.
Supporters say the firefighters have always been on the clock, while collecting donations with no problems. They say it's a great way for firefighters to represent the city, and help those in need.
But Belton's city attorney believes the Missouri Constitution says municipal employees may only be paid for actual service to the city. The city issued a statement that says the state constitution prevents the city from paying firefighters from doing work that uniquely and exclusively benefits the MDA.
Instead, the city wants firefighters to do the charity work on their own time.
Joe Cooper wants the issue resolved, and the firefighters allowed to get paid for their efforts on behalf of the MDA.
"I want them to hear the message to approve this thing, figure out a solution to it. Let's Jerry's kids get the money just like every other city around. They do the same thing, and it's not illegal there," Cooper said. Stop this malarkey and approve this. Let city firefighters have their boot drive like they do every year."
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