While Central Coventry Fire District officials are refuting concerns raised by a local citizens advocate about a million dollar plus budget deficit, candidate for State Senate Lou Raptakis is pointing out that Dave Gorman, the Union President for the district who is running against Raptakis in the Democratic primary, is hiding his connection to the district in his campaign brochure.
Raptakis said Gorman’s campaign literature is touting his experience as “a Fire Department Captain in the Town of Coventry”, but nowhere is the Central Coventry Fire District mentioned. Raptakis said this is an indication that Gorman is afraid voters will connect him with the rate hikes they have been hit with by the district over the last few years.
“Dave Gorman and the other folks running the Central Coventry Fire District are trying to blame ratepayers for not paying their bills in a timely way,” said Raptakis. “Unfortunately, these fire officials are oblivious to the fact that in this tough economy, people are struggling to pay fire taxes that have tripled in recent years.”
Raptakis added, “My opponent is out of touch and doesn’t understand that unlike the 65% pay increase he negotiated for new EMTs and firefighters getting hired by the district, the rest of us aren’t seeing anything close to those kinds of pay hikes.”
While fire district officials have pointed to unpaid taxes as a source of budget deficits, Raptakis said district spending continues to increase in an environment where the tax base is not increasing. He said that it is irresponsible for district officers to continue spending when they know the community they serve cannot sustain the kind of fire tax increases they have been imposing in recent years.
Raptakis said the fire district’s own budget data shows that they went from having a $585,000 surplus in 2008 to a $1.9M deficit as of June 30, 2012. The change in financial fortunes for the district happens to coincide with the new contract Gorman negotiated for the union, a contract which managed to avoid the kind of health care co-pays firefighter unions have agreed to in many financially-strapped Rhode Island cities. The contract allows new Emergency Management Technicians/Firefighters hired in April of 2009 to receive a 65% pay hike by April 1, 2014.
“The fact Dave Gorman is afraid to tell voters that he works for the Central Coventry Fire District in his campaign brochure should tell you all you need to know about the damage he has done to ratepayers,” said Raptakis. “He knows the Central Coventry Fire District has a reputation for operating in the shadows and spending money in a way that ignores the economic realities facing our community. On Tuesday, September 11th, voters will have a clear choice in the State Senate primary. A vote for Lou Raptakis will be a vote for someone who will fight for taxpayers. A vote for Dave Gorman will be a vote to protect the special interests and to dump the bill on our citizens.”