Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District Board to hold special - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District Board to hold special meeting

Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District Board to hold special meeting

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BULLITT COUNTY, Ky. (WDRB) -- Problems are piling up for a Bullitt County fire department and its embattled chief.

The Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District is holding a special meeting Friday. Some Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District Board members view their contract with the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department null and void and they plan to void it Friday.

One Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District Board member has a message for the public: "I want them to know that this board has done an 80 degree turn. They've gone from being a board that was told everything to do, whether it was right or wrong to becoming a board that is reading the laws and trying to conform to the laws, and make the board to function and protect the people's properties and lives," said Dan Thibodeaux.

Part of the problem, Thibodeaux says, was Julius Hatfield. The chief of the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department was also serving on the Fire Protection District board. 

"And by doing that, he (Hatfield) controlled the board," said Thibodeaux. "And what was happening, they (board members) just showed up, voted the way they thought he wanted to vote and the fire district gave all its power to a corporation and you can't do that."

The Fire Protection District collects about a million dollars in taxes each year and turns the money over to the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department, a private corporation.  Hatfield is under investigation for insurance fraud and abuse of public trust. He resigned from the board, and is on paid leave as chief.

A special meeting Friday comes with a special agenda for the board. Among the agenda items is a vote to void the contract with the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department, and a vote to take back what belongs to taxpayers including fire stations, equipment and other property. Thibodeaux says he is prepared to file a lawsuit, if that is what it takes. 

"This is great protection for the fire people, it's great for the community because they know where their tax dollars go, when you have open meetings and everything's laid out in front of them. Right now they don't have a clue where their money is, who has it, or who's in charge of what."

Thibodeaux says the current contract was not made following the law and, therefore, is not binding. He expects the board will void the contract Friday, and hopes to have a new contract done the right way by February.

That could be with another fire district, volunteer fire department or even the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department.

The board also wants transparency, which will be seen at the meeting Friday. 

"I assume there will be a lot of the public there and we invite them there. This is their money and they need to be involved. But we hope that it will be a respectful meeting. Everyone will pay attention and sit there wanting to learn rather than create problems," said Thibodeaux.

The meeting is this Friday at 6:30 at the new SE Bullitt firehouse near Bernheim. Thibodeaux says even if the contract is voided, Southeast Bullitt firefighters are paid until mid-year and will still have an obligation to fill to the corporation.

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