Dozens of taxpayers filed into the Central Coventry Fire District's headquarters at 240 Arnold Road on Tuesday night for the CCFD Board of Directors meeting. It was the first public board meeting since the financially-strapped district filed for receivership a week earlier.
At the meeting, residents were introduced to . Land briefly explained that the court system has determined that a fiduciary is necessary to handle the affairs of the district during this crisis and to help move it into a positive direction. He also stated that the district is in the process of a Special Mastership opposed to a Receivership as stated in earlier reports. (Legally speaking, a Receiver has direct executive authority where a Special Master monitors the compliance activities of the party to ensure that judicial orders are followed, but does not have direct executive authority.)
"My role as I see it is to take control and oversee the district, but that doesn't preclude the board members into acting in an advisory capacity to me," said Land. "The board doesn't have any formal power at this moment, but I do intend to work with the members to come to a conclusion that works for the community."
Because of this point, the board members were unable to approve the minutes of the Aug. 21 meeting or formally vote on any of Tuesday's agenda items, however the meeting was still conducted in its entirety.
Following Land's introduction, , were sworn in by Clerk Christine Moniz. After being sworn in, Fisher made a statement suggesting that the five existing board members resign from their positions as a result of the district's recent financial crisis:
"The appointment of a receiver, in my opinion, should have been ratified by the voters of this district," Fisher began. "This board is charged with responsibility as fiduciary of the taxpayers' dollars, a task they failed miserably. We are now broke under their watch. The financial welfare and careers of the men and women working for the department have been put in harm's way. They are confused, and they too do not have any answers. They and their families have been caused undue stress yet they come to work each day without knowing they will be paid because they are dedicated to serving this community. The rights of the taxpayers have been compromised and the safety of the public is in question. The voters at the annual meeting have entrusted me with their confidence to act on their behalf. To elect any of these remaining board members as leaders of this board and rely on their tutelage to lead us out of this catastrophe is a bad idea. It defies my ethical and moral obligations and I won't do it. It is time for them to step aside and leave the rest of us to the daunting task of cleaning up this mess. I am asking the remaining five board members to tender their resignations immediately."
Following several objections, Land urged that despite allowing Fisher to make her statement, he did not want the evening to "evolve into a disorganized and difficult one" and suggested that the five board members in question make it known that they disagreed with Fisher's statement for the record, but to leave the issue as it stood and move forward with the meeting.
Board Vice-President Joseph Bonn was then nominated and voted into the position of Board President and Board Member Anna Mae Lapinski replaced Bonn as Vice-President. Both votes were 5-2, with Fisher and Jervis providing dissenting votes for each. Bonn and Lapinski were then sworn in by Clerk Christine Moniz.
Click here for additional coverage of the Oct. 16 CCFD Board of Directors Meeting.