Hope approves fire department contract increase

The Town of Hope approved a 3 percent increase in next year’s contract with the Hope Volunteer Fire Department, but not without assurances on how the public money will be handled.

That comes on the heels of the indictment earlier this month of the department’s former treasurer Mathew Mathis on federal wire fraud charges and federal civil charges to recover more than $48,000 allegedly taken from the department. A State Board of Accounts audit revealed poor accountability in the department’s finances.

Fire Chief Chad Emmitt said that Mathis was no longer involved with the department and that the finances are being closely reviewed by a board that includes an accountant. The department has also institute two-person check signing to ensure that the previous incidents won’t be repeated. Emmitt said.

The 3 percent increase would take the contract for next year to $82,400. Emmitt said the increase is needed to replace aging equipment.

The Town Council voted unanimously earlier this week to approve the 2019 contract.