Gas controversy brews between New Hope chief and mayor

NEW HOPE, AL (WAFF) - There's a disagreement between New Hope's mayor and police chief over gas expenses after the April 27th tornado outbreak.

New Hope Police Chief Richard Foster said the city deducted $200 dollars from his paycheck.  It's over gas he allegedly provided to four Madison County Deputies and one New Hope Police officer in the days after the tornado.

The city's attorney said the gas was taken for personal use and the city should be reimbursed.

Chief Foster's attorney, though, said his client is out that money now just for making sure responders were able to get to work.

"Mayor Howard informed or instructed Chief Foster to allow any authorized personnel to have fuel from that pump," said Huntsville Attorney Randy Gladden.

The City of New Hope hooked a generator to its city gas pumps after April's tornado outbreak and allowed all emergency personnel to use to it.

Now four months later, Mayor John Howard has sent a letter to Chief Richard Foster claiming that during the power outage, Chief Foster allowed the officer and deputies to pump gas from the city pumps for their personal use. He said Chief Foster was personally responsible for the value of the gas taken, and deducted $200 from the chief's pay.

"We intend to get that returned to him voluntarily, immediately or we will file suit against both the mayor and the city if necessary," said Gladden.

"The mayor felt the chief should reimburse the city for that amount. Then the chief should get reimbursed from the individuals," responded city attorney Doug Martinson.

Gladden claims the money was taken without proper reason and without regard for due process of law, and that one of the accused officers even went by city hall and tried to pay for fuel he owed them.

Martinson said he hopes this matter can be taken care of out of court.

Martinson and the mayor say there's no documentation of the gas being taken "improperly," and according to the may, the money taken from Chief Foster's pay check is just an estimate.

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