Judge Points Out Disinformation Campaign
That Led to Upcoming Disbandonment
THE CITIZENS OF CENTRAL COVENTRY, RHODE ISLAND, voted Tuesday night to de-fund their fire department, knowing that it will probably cause a complete shutdown of services.
The special town meeting and vote for the action brought a large turnout to the local high school and when the results were tallied the measure to increase the fire levy to rescue the department was defeated by a 3-1 margin.
The line of voters outside the high school prior to the
special town meeting was long. (Coventry Patch)
The problem began several years ago when 4 of the town's 7 fire districts merged into one. When the new combined fire district wanted to prepare their budget, the Town Clerk's office told them to expect a certain amount of fire levy revenue to operate with. Unfortunately this figure was about $700,000 too high but was not caught until three years later after the fire district had become $2.8 million in the red …. effectively bankrupt.
After being taken over by a state administrator to straighten the mess out, the solution presented to the taxpayers was for a 36% increase in the fire tax and that is what they voted down last night.
The next step taken is up to the judge overseeing the situation and it is possible that they will have to lay off all of their firefighters and sell off the assets (re: real estate and trucks) to pay off the debt.
TV Channel 10 reports:
Firefighter's union president David Gorman said firefighters will keep going to work until a judge tells them to stop. He said he was disappointed in the outcome, saying "Misinformation did not help. The judge alluded to that. I'm not surprised at all."
Richard Land, court appointed special master for the fire district says the likely next step is to sell off the assets. Land also says, while other districts in town have been asked for plans to help out, there's no plan yet to provide the same level of fire service.
Many who voted against the budget said the price tag was too steep.
Ch. 10 also filed this video report from the meeting:
The alternate plan that was proposed to be put in place if the levy failed was sealed by the court until after last night's vote. It should be disclosed soon.
The Coventry Patch has the best review of what took place at last night's meeting along with a description of what has happened so far and the possibilities ahead. They have links to their previous articles in the sidebar that touch upon the deliberate misinformation campaigns that a group of citizens and some town council members engaged in.
Read that ARTICLE HERE.
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