Hope firefighters, town clash over contract increase for 2017

The town of Hope and its volunteer fire department have had a rough relationship in recent years.

Firefighters approached the council looking for about a 5 percent increase in department funding last night, but Town Council members decided to hold the line for next year.

The firefighters were looking to increase their contract to $80,000 a year, citing increased utilities and the department’s share of a matching grant to fund a new fire truck.

That was on top of a 10 percent increase last year. Fire Chief Randy Wood said the fire department barely made it through this year, as it tries to complete construction on a new fire station, while still operating the old fire station off of the Town Square.

Council President Clyde Compton said he would not support the runaway growth of the department’s funding.

Councilman Ohmer Miller said he has been a proponent of the department, but he also has pressed them to do more fundraisers. Those requests largely fell on deaf ears, Miller said.

Council members agreed to no more than a 2 percent increase, voting 4-1 to send the proposed contract back to the firefighters. Councilman Jonathan Titus said he calculated that a two percent increase would be $77,594 a year.

Councilman Greg Sims voted against the measure. He said he did not want to see any increase to the firefighter’s contract.