Workers’ Comp Issues at Rock Fire?

30 Mar

From Rock Fire District board incumbent and re-election candidate Pete Nicholas’ response to the Post-Dispatch voter guide questionnaire:

What three things would you do to improve delivery of services?

Keep the taxpayers’ monies in the fire district, not going to other public entities. Address the increase in workmen’s compensation claims from $9K in 2008-2009 to $300K in 2012-2013. Create a light duty work program for workmen’s compensation and enforce fit-for-duty evaluations for all workman compensation cases.

The first sentence apparently refers to the ongoing battle between the district (and Rock Ambulance) and the city of Arnold over whether the two entities have to contribute sales tax revenues to the TIF district that was set up for Arnold Commons and Arnold Crossroads. Nicholas presumably agrees with the non-payment.

As for the rest of his response, wow. An increase from $9,000 to $300,000 in five years! That is downright scandalous. Is this a result of a couple of large claims, which could be innocent, or a bunch of small ones, which could suggest sketchy behavior or unfit firemen? Nicholas’ suggestion of “enforcing fit-for-duty evaluations” for workers’ comp cases suggests something questionable is going on. Why is this not on the front page of the newspaper? And does Nicholas’ desire to fix this problem help explain why the firefighters’ union has endorsed and sent out mailers for his opponent, Nathan Smith?

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