Budget battle continues over Central Coventry Fire District

Despite voters rejecting budget after budget to keep the Central Coventry Fire District operating, it continues to stay open thanks to a loan from the town and legislative action.

The General Assembly on Thursday passed a budget overriding what more than 1,300 people voted against on March 26.

"It keeps the district in place until Sept. 1 at a higher tax rate," said state Sen. Leo Raptakis, D-Coventry.

On Sept. 1, residents will vote again on the budget. If they reject the budget again, there's a bill in place which provides a safety contingency plan.

"(The bill) allows the other three fire districts to take over the fire service and also to levy a tax on the borders of the new district," Raptakis said.

So what power do the taxpayers have with their votes? In March, voters rejected the budget with a 3 to 1 margin.

"I think the taxpayers are angry and I think what's going to happen is that emotions will take over," Raptakis answered when asked if the taxpayers have been listened to.

Others agreed.

"I truly believe in the end the people have the final say. At the ballot box, Election Day, or at a financial town meeting. People have to come out and vote," said attorney Nick Gorham.

The district still faces liquidation if it cannot resolve its budget issues by Sept. 1.