Following the voting and swearing-in of several Central Coventry Fire District Board members at Tuesday night's meeting, Interim Chief Andrew Baynes proceeded to give his report which included information about the number of calls that the district responded to in recent weeks as well as updates on vehicle and apparatus maintenance.
When board members arrived at Agenda Item #10, the Treasurer's Report, longtime Coventry resident and owner of C.R. Burns Associates, Conrad Burns explained that he had recently accepted the challenge of creating a new accounting system for the district to bring its books up-to-date from Aug. 31, 2012 to the present. Burns will provide his pro bono services to the district in an attempt to organize its debts and balances following the resignation of former treasurer Tom Lacolle.
Minutes from the July 17, 2012 meeting of the CCFD Board of Directors show that Lacolle had been absent from his duties due to illness and hospitalization for several months. During this time, multiple bills went unpaid and Lacolle was asked to back up his records and turn them over to the station to ensure that accounts were brought current. Lacolle provided the department with a flash drive containing his records, however, because his personal software had been used, members of the district were unable to open and read the reports.
Tax Collector's Report
Due to District Tax Collector Loraine Houle's excused absence from the meeting, Bonn reviewed the Tax Collector's Report that highlighted the back payments received and any uncollected balances from 2005 to September of this year. Between the years 2005 to 2008, the district has uncollected balances totaling $35,539. In 2009, $513,026 in back payments were received leaving an uncollected balance of $34,620.04. 2010 saw $29,013.30 in back payments received and an uncollected balance of $122,325.48. $39,085.27 in back payments were received in 2011, leaving an uncollected balance of $493,954.43.
Bonn also stated that $4,313.90 of interest had been collected by the district between Sept. 1 to Sept. 30, 2012, with no legal fees collected and no abatements or adjustments for that period.
Upcoming Court Proceedings
Recently appointed Special Master Richard Land concluded the meeting by notifying the public of a hearing regarding the Central Coventry Fire District to take place on Wednesday, Oct. 17 at 2 p.m. at the Washington County Courthouse, located at 4800 Tower Hill Rd., Wakefield. Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Brian P. Stern will preside over the hearing.
Land also assured taxpayers that he plans on scheduling regular informational meetings to keep the public informed about the court process and the fate of the 52 Central Coventry Fire employees who have been working without pay since Oct. 5.
"The firefighters have to get paid. They are entitled to get paid. They're entitled to say 'I don't want to work anymore,'" said Land. "They've gone above and beyond to provide emergency services to this community in a crisis situation. The court is well aware of that and it is not a question of whether they should get paid, it's a question of how do we do it? That is what I'm hoping to accomplish tomorrow and get some money flowing into this district."
Click here for additional coverage of the Oct. 16 CCFD Board of Directors Meeting.