STATE HOUSE, APR. 4 – A bill to ensure fire and emergency services in Central Coventry was introduced today by State Representative Patricia Morgan (R-Coventry, West Warwick, Warwick).
Under the bill’s provisions, fire and emergency services formerly provided by the failed Central Coventry Fire District would be contracted for by the Coventry Town Council on a temporary basis, with such authority expiring on Sept 1, 2013.
To pay for such services, the town council would be authorized to collect the balance due on fire district tax bills mailed to residents as ordered by Kent County Superior Court.
If the General Assembly approves the measure, the bill asks the Board of Canvassers in Coventry to schedule a vote on the proposal on or before June 1, 2012, with only qualified electors from Central Coventry Fire District permitted to vote.
“With the Court ordering liquidation of the Central Coventry Fire District, there is no entity currently empowered to levy and collect fire tax, or to expend fire tax revenues,” said Morgan.
“This legislation aims at correcting that, and placing with an accepted body of government, in this case the Town Council, the temporary responsibility for decision-making on fire and emergency services issues,” she said.
“The goal here is to ensure the safety of Central Coventry residents while a long term solution for fire and emergency services is put in place," Morgan continued. "This gives the Town Council the authority to act until September, 2013, by which time a clearer picture of taxpayer’s preferences will emerge."
“There is already a citizen taskforce in Coventry organized and working on this issue, and its members are aware that there is some urgency involved. This provides a six-month window of opportunity for them to work, and gain taxpayer approval of a way forward."
Morgan pointed out that the legislation also provided residents with a level of protection over fire taxes. The bill restricts the Town Council from spending “any sums in excess of the balance due” with respect to the fire tax levy.