BELTON, Mo. - This coming Labor Day weekend, Belton, Mo., firefighters will be back at this intersection raising money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association through their “Boot Block” event-- even if they have to be off duty.
"Me out here a couple days out of the year could make a huge difference in someone's life," Belton Fire Captain Steve Katofil said. “When the residents come by, they see the firemen in their helmets, in their gear, the trucks are there. They know where the money is going."
This year, the city manager and city attorney, Mary Jo Shaney, determined the annual boot block was illegal.
"The conclusion was that as a steward of the taxpayers, money of the city should not be paying fire people to volunteer," Shaney said.
"It's not going to cost the city one penny to continue this tradition," an opposer of the decision said.
Among the supporters was the Booth family whose son benefits from the Boot Block donations.
"It's a tradition of over 50 years, it's always works. You don't fix something that's not broke,” Valerie Booth said.
"They can read a book on their down time but they can't collect money for MDA," said an onlooker.
The city council decided to let the city attorney's decision stand.
"All of these are good questions but the battle here really isn't about MDA," Shaney said.
The firefighters say the debate is still not over.
"They just keep hiding behind this legal opinion of the city attorney and we’ve proven time and time again that this does not relate there is no city money being used at all,” Kratofil said.
Even if they can't get the city to change its mind before Labor Day weekend, firefighters say they will fight even harder for next year.
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