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COVENTRY â€” Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the Fiscal Stability Act â€” 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 â€” 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.
â€śIt was a last-ditch effort to resolve the Central Coventry Fire District situation,â€ť said Chafee in a press release. â€śThe 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.â€ť
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.â€ť
Central Coventry Fire District Chief Andrew Baynes said he is appreciative of the governorâ€™s and the legislatureâ€™s ability to see what the fire district provides.
â€śItâ€™s an opportunity to right the ship in a collective way,â€ť 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 districtâ€™s best interest.
â€śI was not in favor of the Fiscal Stability Act because, despite their 5 votes, it takes the people out of the equation,â€ť Morgan said. â€śTaxpayers deserve equitable treatment. In every decision thatâ€™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.â€ť
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