BREAKING NEWS: New State Receiver at Broke Central Coventry Fire - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather


BREAKING NEWS: New State Receiver at Broke Central Coventry Fire Department

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by ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

There are new developments in the future of the financially struggling Central Coventry Fire District. Late Tuesday Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) announced he was appointed former Westerly Town Councilor and, later Town Manager, Steven Hartford, to be the state receiver for the fire district.

Fire trucks and ambulances in Central Coventry will be responding to calls until further notice. The financially troubled fire department was supposed to close its doors in 10 days. But the Fiscal Stability law approved by the General Assembly and signed by the Governor, prevents the fire department from being shut down, after two years of that looming possibility.

"You had to motivate everyone in the last couple of years. This weekend, and everyday so far, every shift officer I had spoken to – the moods changed – it's like a weight has been lifted off of the firefighters’ shoulders," said Captain David Gorman of the Central Coventry Fire Department and head of the local firefighter’s union.

But, there could still be cuts down the road, Governor Chafee talking about more union concessions and tax increases, to keep the fire department open.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "The governor's letter is not clear on exactly what action he will take, but it's quite possible he'll appoint a budget commission to take over the fire department just as he did when East Providence and Woonsocket were teetering on bankruptcy."

But many who live in the district are worried. A budget commission could raise their taxes a lot, even though residents voted numerous times to reject a hike in their fire tax.

"The people can't pay any more. These are families that are already under stress, financial stress. You can't keep going them and asking them to keep coming up with more and more taxes," said State Rep. Patricia Morgan (R) West Warwick-Coventry.

There are calls to merge the Central Coventry Fire District into neighboring fire departments, but it may be at another year before that is seriously considered at the State House.
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