COVENTRY, R.I. (WPRI) — In less than a week, voters will decide the fate of the financially troubled Coventry Fire District. On June 17, they will either approve a one-time tax increase, or vote to dissolve the district.
Frank Palin, the chairman of the Coventry Fire District’s board, tells Eyewitness News the district had a deficit of about $650,000 at the start of 2015. If left unchecked, officials say it could balloon to a million dollars by the end of the year.
“We need quite a bit of money,” Palin said. “I’m hoping that they vote to approve $600,000 next Wednesday.”
The firefighters’ union has agreed to make cuts to relieve some of the stress on the budget, saving the district about $350,000.
“It was about preserving jobs and doing the right thing for the community,” Coventry firefighter union president David Gorman said.
If voters decide to dissolve the district, there’s no guarantee that will be the end result. Such a vote would also require approval from the Rhode Island General Assembly. If lawmakers were to approve dissolving the district, that would happen at the end of the year.