President of Hannibal firefighters union asks for better communication with city officials

Steve Meyer

Steve Meyer, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1211, speaks during Tuesday’s Hannibal City Council meeting. | Shane Hulsey

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Steve Meyer, president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 1211, expressed concern about a communication disconnect between fire department personnel and city officials at Tuesday’s Hannibal City Council meeting.

“It takes an equal effort from both sides, but I feel like a lack of communication breeds misunderstanding,” Meyer said.

Meyer suggested regular staff meetings, emails, newsletters to help facilitate two-way communication.

“City management should prioritize open and transparent communication channels to keep employees informed about organizational changes, policies, and initiatives,” Meyer said. “By nurturing these partnerships, the city can ensure a positive relationship with the fire department and all the other city employees, as well.” 

Fourth Ward Councilman Charlie Phillips acknowledged this disconnect, though he made clear the avenue in which this disconnect resides.

“Your reputation and the appearance of fire and police are held in the highest regard, so the disconnect might be in the communication with city hall, but I don’t believe it’s by reputation or appreciation at all,” Phillips said. “Our first responders are probably the most venerated and respected members of our community.”

Meyer noted the Hannibal Fire Department’s starting salary of $40,000 is $14,000 less than that of the starting salary in the Quincy (Ill.) Fire Department. Meyer suggested a middle ground starting salary of $46,000, but Phillips said the city’s current situation will make any changes challenging to achieve.

Several members of the Hannibal Fire Department were in attendance for Tuesday’s Hannibal City Council meeting. | Shane Hulsey

“I understand that you’re negotiating in good faith with a union contract,” Phillips said. “I paid attention to all your literature on cost of living and all those breakdowns, but that does not change the fact that the city of Hannibal is in a deficit right now, so that means everybody has to bend. Everybody has to know and understand that. The fact that we are running a deficit is going to make these negotiations extremely hard.”

Hannibal Mayor Barry Louderman praised the Hannibal Fire Department’s professionalism and accomplishments, but he said Quincy’s population and sales tax revenue do not compare with Hannibal’s. While Meyer acknowledged it was an apples-to-oranges comparison, he pointed out Quincy will have 20 employees eligible for retirement during the next 24 months, while Hannibal could lose up to eight employees to retirement over the next fiscal year.

“They’re going to be looking to fill boots on the ground just as much as we are,” Meyer said.

Meyer explained what this loss of experience could mean for the future of the department.

“This is going to lead to a lack of eligible candidates for not only promotion but sufficiently trained staff to manage and run stations safely and effectively,” Meyer said. “This is ultimately going to probably lead to the closure of a station or stations, a condensing of how things are run, which is going to be a disservice to our citizens. All of those factors jeopardize the safety of our employees and the citizens we serve.”

In other news, the council:

  • Approved and adopted an ordinance approving the fiscal year 2024-25 budget and appropriating to the various departments, boards, commissions and agencies of the city government of the city of Hannibal, Mo., for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2025.
  • Approved the Hannibal Community Promotions Group’s use of Lovers Leap for the annual Fourth of July fireworks display.
  • Heard the recommendation for the reappointment of Greg Baugher to the Airport Commision for a term to expire September 2027.
  • Authorized Louderman to sign a letter of support for the designation of U.S. 36 as I-72 from U.S. 61 to the U.S. 24 junction.
  • Approved the future use of the South Main Street property as a municipal RV park.
  • Heard the recommendation of appointment for Rose Ghattas to the Planning and Zoning Commission for a term to expire June 2028.
  • Heard the recommendation of appointment for Darrell McCoy to the Board of Public Works for a term to expire July 2028.
  • Heard a recommendation of reappointment of Steve Viorel to the Hannibal Parks and Recreation Board for a term to expire July 2027. 
  • Authorized Louderman to sign a letter of support for Stowell School’s application for a grant for playground equipment.
  • Approved resolution authorizing Louderman to sign a three-year lease agreement with five one-year extension options with Canton Marine Towing for the use of a docking site on the Hannibal riverfront.

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