Taxpayers in the Central Coventry Fire District have voted against the proposed 2012-13 budget and tax levy, which means the fate of the fire department will be in the hands of a judge.
"The decision very likely could happen on Thursday," said Special Master Richard Land. "That we're headed down the road for closure and liquidating. In my meetings with taxpayers I've been clear that was a likely alternative here if we didn't have a balanced budget and an approved tax levy. But for whatever reason, they elected to put the taxes down."
The rejection of the budget comes after many meetings where residents expressed outrage over how the department's books were managed and money spent.
The proposal this week included a 42 percent hike on the fire tax bill for town residents, which amounts to $3.15 per $1,000.
What happens if the fire department goes?
"I'm frankly concerned about what happens in this fire district when there are no fire fighters employed here anymore," Land said.
Forty-three jobs inside the fire department are at stake. And with no fire department, that means when residents call for an emergency vehicle, they may not get one right away.
If the fire department is dismantled, who responds?
"That's a great question," said Chief Andrew Baynes. "I don't know. If the surrounding districts are available I hope that they will."