Coventry voters reject fire district budget
COVENTRY, R.I. —
Voters in the Central Coventry Fire District overwhelmingly rejected a budget for the troubled district Tuesday night. Without money, the doors will have to close.
More than 1,800 voters turned out to decide the fate of the district, which has been in court receivership for the past six months. Voters were faced with a decision to pay 36 percent more in fire taxes or disband the district.
The final vote was 1,357 against the new budget; 484 voted in favor.
Firefighter's union president David Gorman said firefighters will keep going to work until a judge tells them to stop. He said he was disappointed in the outcome.
"Misinformation did not help. The judge alluded to that. I'm not surprised at all," Gorman said.
Richard Land, the court-appointed special master for the fire district, said the likely next step is to sell off the assets. Land also said that while other districts in town have been asked for plans to help out, there's no plan yet to provide the same level of fire service.
Many who voted against the budget said the price tag was too steep.
"Everybody's had to streamline in this economy and become more efficient and more accountable, and I think we need that here," said Charlie Nault.
"I need to balance my budget. You can't just be a million dollars in deficit. You need to balance your budget. It can't be on our backs anymore," Jean Mulligan said.
Joyce Chase was among the minority who voted for the higher taxes and keeping the district intact. She said firefighters saved her life two years ago.
"I had a brain aneurysm and a stroke, and they were there to respond within three minutes," Chase said. "I couldn't walk. I couldn't talk. And if it wasn't for them getting me there in the golden hour, I wouldn't be here today. I can't put a price on my life."