TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — Wabash Township's board meeting Tuesday night at times devolved into shouting and arguing.
The meeting came one day after Trustee Jennifer Teising announced plans to lay off the township's three paid firefighters.
Even though the meeting was held in-person, Teising attended virtually via a video conference call.
But she still butted heads with board members, continually interrupting them and constituents during a public comment section of the meeting. At one point, Teising said, "They're so stupid," over a hot mic she presumably thought was muted.
Teising was muted by board members several times and left or was kicked out of the video call after about two hours.
Teising is facing scrutiny over her plans to shrink the fire department. As News 18 previously reported, she emailed the township's three paid firefighters Monday to inform them they would be laid off by the end of the month.
Teising attributed the layoffs to budgetary constraints. But township officials say there's enough money in the budget to employ the firefighters through the end of the year.
Board members approved a resolution Tuesday to transfer $500,000 from the cumulative fire fund to the firefighting fund, which would allow the department to employ its three paid firefighters through 2023.
"None of us can predict what will happen between now and November 2022 when the next election shows up," said board member David Tate. "This is the least we can do to protect these people."
But Teising said she would look at the proposal without promising she would use the funds as board members intended.
"I'm going to have to look and see what exactly it is they're doing and what they're proposing and what we can do and what's legally allowed for us to do," she said.
Residents, firefighters and other officials also poked holes in Teising's proposed plan for future fire services, saying it would increase response times and put township residents at risk.
Teising wants to hire part-time firefighters to staff the station during weekday business hours and lean on volunteer firefighters during off-hours. The plan would eliminate the department's EMS services.
Others complained about Teising's absence from the trustee's office and public meetings, questioning her choice to attend virtually. Teising said the video call was the most convenient option for her and her constituents.
As News 18 previously reported, Teising is facing criminal charges over allegations she didn't live in the township for several months beginning last year.
Grand jurors indicted her in May on 20 counts of felony theft related to the investigation into her residency.