by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis
Residents in Central Coventry voted their Fire Department budget down for the second time in six weeks. The vote was 484 Yes; 1,357 No.
"The Budget did not pass," said Court Appointed Receiver Richard Land, as he read the totals. And with that the Central Coventry Fire budget was rejected, and the department will likely be shut down.
Capt. David Gorman, of the Central Coventry Fire Department said, "I am disappointed that the taxpayers certainly didn't vote to keep their fire department open."
Hundreds of people stood in long lines outside Coventry High School, waiting to cast their votes, hoping to end the department's financial controversy. Many did not want to see their taxes increase any more.
Ron Goodworth, opposed the fire budget saying, "I'm on Social Security and my taxes in 2000 were $320, and now they want to raise it to over a thousand dollars this year. That's just unacceptable."
Gloria Petroski, also opposed the fire budget saying, "No because I can hardly afford what's going on now. I'm a farmer here and it's been tough for the last couple of years."
Central Coventry is one of four fire departments that serve the Town of Coventry. Others who came to vote ‘yes' said it was critical to keep the fire department doors open.
Brian Roussel, supported the fire budget saying, "I'm going to vote that way because I don't want my family to be without rescue or fire."
Joyce Chase, also supported the fire budget saying, "I voted yes because the Central Coventry Fire Department saved my life January 3, 2011, when I had a brain aneurysm and a stroke. They were there in 3 minutes, and I was to Rhode Island Hospital in 30 minutes."
But the vote to save the department failed by a 3-to-1 margin.
Richard Land, the Superior Court Appointed Receiver said, "We have a crisis stage at this point. (Question: Is liquidation likely?). Land responded, "I believe liquidation in some form is likely."
Now this case heads back to Superior Court, where the receiver says this department only has enough money to operate for maybe two more weeks. After that three surrounding departments will have to answer emergency calls in Central Coventry, until a permanent solution is found.