Hope fire department finances under scrutiny

The Indiana State Police are investigating the finances of the Hope Volunteer Fire Department but few details are available on the case.

Fire Chief Randy Wood said that the state police were called in about three months ago after the discovery of a irregularity in the fire department’s books. He said that he cannot discuss details of the case or the size of the irregularity that was discovered.

Wood said that the department is following proper procedures and having it investigated. They are not sure yet if there is any wrongdoing or anything unaccounted for.

“We don’t know,  it is being investigated and that is all that I can say now, until we hear back from the police,” Wood said.

Wood said the fire department’s treasurer, who was not named, has been suspended.

“It is out of our hands right now. It is being investigated. That is all I can say.”

At last night’s Hope Town Council meeting, Councilman Greg Sims asked Ed Johnson, a fire department adviser, if he knew what was going on with the situation and Johnson said he had only been told that there was an Indiana State Police investigation underway.

The Indiana State Police have not yet responded to a request for more information.

The fire department has faced financial problems over the past several years, after cost overruns with a new fire station under construction on the east side of the northern Bartholomew County town. The department was sued by its contractor on the project and while that lawsuit was ongoing, the Hope Town Council refused to pay the department — unless it could ensure that none of the town money went to the new fire station.

The town and volunteer fire department went almost all of last year without a contract and without payments from the town — a major portion of the fire department’s budget. The issue was resolved late last year and the first payments were made to the department in December 2015.