Plan reached ahead of fire district shutdown

COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI)- State and local lawmakers held a third and final closed-door meeting Monday night ahead of the upcoming Central Coventry Fire District shutdown.

The meeting ended when lawmakers reached a consensus to extend the Fiscal Stability Act to include fire districts. The two bills will now head to the house and senate for final approval. If approved, a governor-appointed group would work quickly to reorganize the Central Coventry Fire District.

“I think the fiscal stability act within a certain amount of time could come up with some sort of plan that could move this district forward that’s going to be fair to everyone, especially the taxpayers,” said Sen. Lou Raptakis (D).

Similar plans have been instituted for East Providence and Woonsocket. Some lawmakers say they are not concerned the plan will be fair to taxpayers.

“In practice, it has not worked. In Woonsocket, all they got were tax increases. So I’m assuming that’s what central Coventry taxpayers will get now. They’ll just get tax increases with no change in the things that brought them to liquidation,” said State Rep. Patricia Morgan (R).

All parties involved agree allowing the district to liquidate could risk the public’s safety and hit the residents financially.

“The challenge with liquidation is an immediate escalation of a tax bill that could surpass $11 million,” said State Rep. Lisa Tomasso (D).

All 3 of Coventry’s district fire chiefs agreed to the bill. Hearings on the bill could begin next week.

 

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