Court Battle Could Close Central Coventry Fire Department

by Mark Curtis, ABC6 Chief Political Reporter





The Kent County Courtroom was packed for a motion to shut down the Central Coventry Fire Department.

It is just about out of money.

But surrounding departments say they can't protect Central Coventry's 22 thousand residents for more than perhaps 3 days.

Gary Cote, President of the Coventry Town Council said, “After the first 72 hours, which is three days, we will be playing Russian Roulette with the health safety and welfare of the taxpayers in the Town of Coventry.”

Marie Fisher of the Central Coventry Fire District Board said, “There will be delays in calls for service and consequently people could die.”

A clerical error cost the department 1–point–five million dollars,

Unpaid bills and employee pensions add another 1–point–eight million in debt.

Richard Land, the court-appointed Special Master, “We may run out of money before new tax revenue comes in.

Mark Curtis, ABC6 Chief Political Reporter said, “Perhaps the most stunning development in this hearing was regarding last Monday's budget vote for the Central Coventry Fire District – a budget that was voted down. Now there are allegations of voter fraud”

During the sometimes chaotic vote, people were supposed to have registration wrist bans cut off once they voted.

Apparently some did not, and may have voted more than once.

Mark Gursky, the attorney for the Firefighters Union said, “There's still that discrepancy between the number of bracelets and the number of ballots, which suggests to me that Mr. Land may be right, and that some people may have taken advantage of the situation and gone back into line.”

So, the receiver wants to have another vote.

But anti–tax forces in Central Coventry say they won and the vote is final.

John Assalone, who opposes the new budget said, “The best thing I think we have going for us is that when the people speak, they speak. And that's it.”

The judge will announce his decision on the fate of the fire department Friday afternoon.