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Troubled Northeast fire district settles state lawsuit

The Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection district must pay a $5,000 fine for violating the state's open meeting rules. (Rachel Lippmann, St. Louis Public Radio)

The Northeast Ambulance and Fire Protection District has settled a lawsuit filed over the actions of former board members.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the current board will "provide the Missouri Attorney General's office copies of notices for all district meetings, minutes of those meetings, all requests the district receives for public records and its responses to those requests."

The district, according to the paper, must also pay a $5,000 fine for violating the state's open meeting rules, though $4,000 can be suspended if the district abides by the settlement.

None of the members named in the suit remain on the board.

In 2009, outgoing auditor Susan Montee released a report that was highly critical of the department. Her summary of the report noted that a lack of access to the records - the base of the July 2, 2009 lawsuit - meant "we were unable to determine if amounts paid for some services were in compliance with contracts, if invoices were adequately detailed, and/or if some monies spent were for district business."

Gov. Matt Blunt requested the audit at the urging of a St. Louis-area lawmaker.

A 2010 follow-up detailed a precarious financial situation at the department.

Rachel is the justice correspondent at St. Louis Public Radio.

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