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Chafee signs Fiscal Stability Act into law Friday

May 6, 2014

COVENTRY — Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the Fiscal Stability Act — which will allow a state-appointed receiver or budget commission to take over and reorganize the Central Coventry Fire District, which has been under the guidance of a court-appointed special master since October 2012 — into law Friday,.

Previously, the Act only included towns and cities, not fire districts. The purpose of the legislation is to oversee audits and regular reporting to the state.

“It was a last-ditch effort to resolve the Central Coventry Fire District situation,” said Chafee in a press release. “The only other alternative appears to be liquidation of the fire district on May 16, 2014, resulting in a large tax bill to taxpayers in the district and possibly leaving them with limited or no fire suppression services.”
Chafee also said in the release that through the application of the Fiscal Stability Act, the fire district will have a balanced plan imposed upon it to pay off its financial obligations and accumulated liabilities and such a plan will likely include increased taxes, union concessions and possibly reduced services.”

Central Coventry Fire District Chief Andrew Baynes said he is appreciative of the governor’s and the legislature’s ability to see what the fire district provides.

“It’s an opportunity to right the ship in a collective way,” he said.
Representative Patricia Morgan, R-Dist. 26 (Coventry, West Warwick, Warwick), who has spoke out against the Act since hearings regarding it began two months ago, believes it is not in the district’s best interest.

“I was not in favor of the Fiscal Stability Act because, despite their 5 votes, it takes the people out of the equation,” Morgan said. “Taxpayers deserve equitable treatment. In every decision that’s been made so far from the Guthrie Bill to the passage of the FSA without a tax cap, the firefighters have been protected but the taxpayers have been ignored. I hope the Governor will choose folks for the Budget Commission who will honor the interests of the taxpayer.”
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