Summary of the issue – Facts. The Township Trustee (Vicki Payne) wanted changes in the management of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department (VBVFD). This resulted in legal action. Legal action led to the dissolution of the VBVFD and the creation of the Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department.
The settlement of the issue resulted in a cost to the “county” taxpayers of $77,546.00. There was no evidence provided in the Brown County Democrat that one or more of the commissioners got involved to resolve this dispute.
Township Trustees: Vicki Payne(R) / Susan W. Showalter (D)
Township Board Members:
- Democrats: Kevin G. Fleming, William “Bill” Miller, Michael O’Connor,
- Republicans: Clara M Becraft, Ben Miller, Ben Phillips
Brown County Matters – Facebook Posts regarding the issues and final settlement
- Oct 18, 2018. Facebook post – Kevin Fleming – candidate for Township Board.
- Oct 17, 2018, Review of the Issue (Prior to Nov 6 Election for Trustee)
- May 17, 2018 VanBuren VFD Final Disposition – Summary”… settlement of the Buren VFD issue that was a source of celebration for many. It is also seen as a hostile takeover by others. County taxpayer money ($77,545.60 ) was used to settle the dispute. From a review of the information contained and referenced in the articles published by the Democrat (link below), I did not see any evidence that the commissioners took any significant action to resolve this dispute until it became a“crisis.” The crisis including the requirement for the county to pay back a $400,000 grant and being prevented from applying for any additional grants. This lack of action contributed to significant legal expenses.”
- SOUTHERN BROWN VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENT, INC.
- Facebook: Van Buren Township Volunteer Fire Department Supporters
Brown County Democrat
Articles and Letters on the fire station issue and disputes between the township trustee and Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department (Feb 2017 to Present)
May 15, 2018. Grant freeze over soon? Van Buren Fire, county commissioners make a deal. The agreement took effect May 10. The Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department agreed to legally dissolve in exchange for a $77,545.60 settlement from the county. A little over $40,000 of that is for the county to buy the equipment that’s still in the Van Buren fire station. The other $36,745.60 will go toward paying off the legal bills that Van Buren VFD still owes for a years-long court battle with the Van Buren Township trustee, according to the settlement agreement.
Public Records, Court Cases, etc: Doxpop.com
Mar 6, 2018. The Brown County Commissioners have made their choice known to the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs: They intend to restore the Van Buren volunteer fire station to use as a fire station. Read more in the March 14 paper.
Mar 6, 2018. Letter submitted by Mercy Phillips supporting the actions of the Van Buren Trustee. It was also posted to Facebook – Brown County Watchdogs by Byron Ayers
Feb 20, 2018 – Since the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department had its contract with the Van Buren Township trustee severed in July, OCRA is not recognizing Van Buren … Grants from the Community Development Block Grant program through OCRA and the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority are …
New fire department being formed in county as Van Buren Fire, township leaders settle lawsuit
Jul 11, 2017 – PIKES PEAK — The Van Buren Township Advisory Board has agreed to a monetary settlement with the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department, ending … when an emergency call is made could be a little less clear, as both Van Buren Fire and a new entity, Southern Brown Volunteer Fire Department Inc., are …
Feb 28, 2017 – A lawsuit between the Van Buren Township trustee and advisory board and the Van Buren volunteer firefighters and fire board is proceeding to a jury trial — but not for another five to eight months. After meeting with lawyers for the township and the fire department, Brown Circuit Judge Judith Stewart set the …
Whether or not the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department keeps operating as a fire department has an impact on the county as a whole, and not just because of fire protection.When the firefighters, Payne and other volunteers succeeded in October 2012 at getting a $400,000 grant to build the Van Buren fire station, the Brown County Commissioners were listed as the grant recipient, with the fire department as the subrecipient.
The grant agreement with the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs says the building must remain a fire station for five years.
Commissioner Diana Biddle said there’s been some concern over the life of this dispute about the county’s liability to that grant if the station folds.
She said it’s even more complex because ownership of the land is in the name of the Van Buren Volunteer Fire Department, which is its own entity separate from township government.