Taxpayers, employees and board members of the Coventry (Anthony) Fire District gathered at Club Jogues on Tuesday night for the district's annual meeting.
District taxpayers that were present voted 53-2 to approve the 2013-2014 Operating Budget totaling $2,548,183, which includes personnel and operations costs. The vote also passed a tax rate of 28 cents per each $100 of residential property in the district, or $2.80 per $1,000, as well as a 42 cents per $100 commercial rate and a 56 cents per $100 industrial rate.
Two new members, John Botello and John D'Onofrio were elected to the district's Board of Directors, filling vacancies left by Chairman Gary Cote and Co-Chair Shirley Matthews who both decided not to run for reelection after serving seven years on the Board.
At the start of the meeting, Chief Paul Labbadia presented his annual report that broke down the budget into detailed line items and reported the district's call history for the year to date. At the time of the report, the district had completed 2,070 of the 5,254 runs for the Town of Coventry as a whole and expects about 240 more before the year ends. 1,445 of these runs were in response to rescue calls and the remaining 625 were for fire calls.
Chief Labbadia went on to explain that the district's 2012-2013 budget currently has a deficit of $110,111 caused by various factors including injuries, changes in pension plan and medical coverage, $336,853 in 2013 back taxes and $60,134 in prior years back taxes.
Tax Collector Jeanne Lukowicz presented her report as of Nov. 30, 2013, stating that $1,792,630 in taxes had been collected during the year, $355,080 in back taxes and $89,295 in interest on back taxes, totaling $2,237,006. The report also showed a total of $396,988 in uncollected taxes, for both 2013 and prior years.
Treasurer Judith Hetherman gave her report showing the assets and liabilities of the district as of Nov. 30, 2013 as well as the results of operations. The report showed $2,595,758 in total expenditures for the year, including both operations and personnel. It also presented $2,485,647.31 in total receipts including taxes collected, interest on taxes and bank balances, rescue recovery and fire prevention.
"We here at the fire district have done our best - our very best - to be able to provide you with the level of service that you demand, that you deserve and that your tax dollars absolutely pay for," said Cote. "This year we're going to present a budget to you that calls for no tax increase. The same check you wrote last year is going to pay your taxes this year and in this day and age I think that's an accomplishment."