WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — Wabash Township officials say Trustee Jennifer Teising informed the township's firefighters their benefits will end at the end of the month.
As News 18 previously reported, Teising is facing scrutiny over a pending felony theft case and her firing of the township's fire chief in December.
She's also been at odds for months with the township's board members and fire fighters.
Board Member Angel Valentín says Teising will terminate health insurance benefits for the township's three paid firefighters by the end of the month.
But he says there's still room in the budget for those benefits. Teising secured an emergency fire loan last year to offer health insurance.
"Unless something insane has happened when it comes to our finances, we know the money was allocated and the money was there," he says.
As News 18 previously reported, the township has explored more permanent funding options for the fire department. But Valentín says there's enough money budgeted to extend benefits through next year.
"The trustee has tried to create a false dichotomy as to: We have to either let them go or we need to expand and build everything all at once," he says.
Wabash Township Deputy Fire Chief Jim Lewis fears Teising's next move will be to terminate the three positions, which could increase response times by five minutes.
Here's what he said in a verbal statement to News 18:
"It is really going to put the residents of the township in jeopardy," he says. "We will respond and will respond in a timely manner as much as we can but it will not be the same as if we have people sitting here at the station ready to go."
Valentín says it's crucial to retain the positions not just for the livelihood of the firefighters but for the safety of the township.
"Not only because we hired them and we have a duty and a responsibility to them, which is a really important part, but also because we have a duty and a responsibility to the community," he says.
Teising has ignored calls to resign while her theft case moves forward. She faces 20 counts of felony theft on allegations she didn't live in the township for several months beginning last year.
Meanwhile, Valentin feels like his hands are tied.
"I do have my concerns especially given the nature of the indictment it obviously raises quite a bit of concern when it comes to managing funds and what not ... but the board only has so much power," he says. "We're an advisory board. We set the budget, we approve it, but we have limits to our authority."
As News 18 previously reported, Teising wants to move her trial outside the county and ask for a special prosecutor. News 18 reached out to Teising via phone, text message and email but didn't hear back.