St. Clair Ambulance District Chief Bill Hollo has turned in his letter of resignation to his board of directors.
Hollo confirmed his decision to The Missourian late last week, but emphasized it has nothing to do with the controversial policy that allows all ambulance board members and their spouses to have district-provided and paid for cellphones if so desired. All six board members, three spouses and Hollo’s wife take advantage of the perk, costing local taxpayers about $6,000 annually.
The Missourian broke that story earlier this month in its May 4-5 edition.
The district chief would provide little additional information about his decision and said he did not want to discuss the issue further at this time. When contacted, Hollo said he would be busy with payroll this week and “getting everything together for our annual audit.”
He did say he would contact The Missourian in the near future to provide more details.
“My retirement has been in the works for eight months,” Hollo told The Missourian. “I decided to make it public since we will be looking for a replacement before the end of the year.”
Hollo said he turned in his retirement notice during the board’s regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, May 6.
“There has been a committee selected to start looking for my replacement,” he said. “(It’s) moving very slowly since I have not decided when I am going to retire, except that I will most probably retire by the end of the year unless I change my mind.
“The board would like me to stay as long as I want, but all good things must come to an end.”
Ambulance board member Tim Davis confirmed on Monday that Hollo turned in his resignation letter on May 6 and also said that Hollo and the six-member board have been talking about it for months.
“We’ve been discussing it for a long time,” Davis said. “It’s not a secret. The details are not done yet, but he is planning to retire sometime this year.”
Davis said the board would prefer if Hollo stayed in his position until a replacement can be found, hired and trained.
“The board is not running him out of town,” Davis said. “We all want to have a smooth, clean transition.”
Davis also emphasized that the phone perk issue and Hollo’s retirement are not related.
“The board is very proud of what Bill has accomplished here,” he said. “I, personally, am a big fan of Bill Hollo. He has done a wonderful job for this district.”
Board Treasurer Danny Shadrick also has said that Hollo has been thinking about retirement for several months.
Hollo, 68, said he has been the St. Clair Ambulance District chief for 12 years. During his tenure, records show that he has grown the assets of the district significantly.
Hollo was selected to represent taxing entities on the St. Clair Enhanced Enterprise Zone Advisory Board. Hollo did not attend the board’s first meeting when it approved recommending the EEZ to the city and also was not present for the EEZ public hearing last Thursday.
His status in regard to remaining on that board is uncertain.
Earlier this month, The Missourian reported that St. Clair Ambulance District taxpayers have been footing the bill for board members and their spouses to have cellphones for personal use for a number of years.
Hollo said that the personal cellphones are given to any board member and his or her spouse who request it, and the district picks up the tab each month. Board members also receive a $100 cash stipend every month for attending meetings.
“We don’t consider this to be an excessive thing,” Hollo told The Missourian during an earlier interview. “We’ve elected to do it because we feel it’s economical and practical.
“It’s important that the board knows what’s going on, and that’s how this cellphone thing came about. It really has improved communications.”
The six-member board established the policy several years ago, Hollo said.
According to district phone records, the local ambulance district has 20 cellphone lines. Ten are used by board members, their spouses and Hollo’s wife.
Assistant Chief Jamie Clayton has opted not to take advantage of the district-offered cellphone service and uses his own device.
The local ambulance district uses AT&T as its service provider. The monthly cellphone bill totals about $1,000, of which more than half goes toward the board and spouse cellphone perk.
Hollo said funds are taken out of the district budget’s communications line item to pay for the cellphone service as well as an additional $400 per month for in-house telephones and a fax line. According to records, the annual phone expense is significantly higher than the amount budgeted.
Hollo said he thought the phone option combined with the $100 monthly payment for attending board meetings was more economical for the district than raising the compensation ante for being on the board. He said the district could pay board members whatever it believes is “fair and reasonable” to attend meetings.
He said that according to Missouri state statute, the practice is legal.
A $1,000 average monthly cellphone bill, the $400 per month in-house phone bill plus a $40 per month fax line bill the district uses for Franklin County dispatch totals $17,280 annually. About $6,000 of that total comes from the board’s usage of cellphones.
The $100-per-month stipend board members also receive adds another $7,200 expense paid for by taxpayers.
The St. Clair Ambulance District board of directors are Chairman Tony Hinson, Secretary Bill Hinson and Jennifer Erbs, Brian Hinson, Davis and Shadrick.