Central Coventry taxpayers legally required to pay tax bills

Nikki Gomes paid her tax bill to the Central Coventry Fire District on Tuesday.

She is one of hundreds who has received a notice that her home would be subject to a tax sale for nonpayment.

"It was nerve-wracking. We have a family of eight. We wanted to make sure we made the payment right away," Gomes said.

Gomes said with news of the fire district being liquidated, she was unsure about having to pay. But on Friday the judge overseeing the case affirmed taxes continue to be due.

"We're obligated to pay the taxes. Unfortunately, death and taxes is what goes around," said Richard Lineham of Coventry.

But apparently not everyone agrees. NBC 10 News went to the collector's office to check the numbers.

A tax sale is scheduled for April 25. Originally, there were 767 delinquent properties listed. As of Tuesday morning, that number has dropped to 408.

"It's not a welcome process, so we wish people would come forward and take care of their civic duties," CCFD Chief Andrew Baynes said.

The bottom line is that property owners should continue to pay, even as the fate of Central Coventry -- the fire district with the highest tax levy in the state --- continues to hang in the balance.

"All the taxes are due because they still need money to pay back creditors if we close. And even if we don't close, they would still need the money to keep the function of the fire department operating," union president David Gorman said.

Gorman said he is hoping for the latter. The union is appealing a Superior Court judge's order to liquidate and close the fire district by May 16.

Legislation has been introduced that would allow a state budget commission to oversee troubled fire districts as they can now for cities and towns.

Many feel that would be a viable solution for the CCFD. But Republican state Rep. Patricia Morgan said she disagrees, and believes it would only result in higher taxes.