While most Rhode Islanders are focusing on the Boston Marathon bombing suspects and the historic same-sexed marriage bill, a fire is still blazing in Central Coventry.
On Wednesday in a 6 to 1 vote the Senate Finance Committee passed a bill proposed by Representative Scott Guthrie to address the fiscally struggling Central Coventry Fire District.
Senator Lou Raptakis said that battle lines are being drawn. "If the General Assembly can over step the wishes of the tax payers of Coventry what fire district is next," said Raptakis.
After the vote Raptakis said, "Today democracy for the Central Coventry tax payers stood still."
In March, the tax payers in the Central Coventry Fire District voted down a tax increase in the District in order to help the district keep its doors open. After a hearing before a Judge the tax payers were given a second chance to vote on the budget for the fire district and once again overwhelmingly rejected the measure. The increase would have brought the taxes in the district from a prorate $2.16 to a $2.99 single rate.
In the bill proposed by Representative Scott Guthrie the fire district would be authorized to operate under the tax levy last authorized by the district's qualified voters to be assessed and collected if the voters fail to approve the budget.
"I am opposed to this legislation because the people voted three times against a tax increase and clearly did not want business as usual at CCFD and this bill perpetuates that, It seems to me the General Assembly is going to override the will of the Central Coventry Fire Districts voters who refuse to fund the district any longer," said Senator Nicholas Kettle.
Raptakis said that the bill is forcing a tax increase on the taxpayers who rejected it. He says under the bill the people in the district will face a $2.86 single rate.
Thursday the bill will be voted on, on the Senate floor. Raptakis and Kettle say they don't plan on seeing the bill pass without a fight.
On Friday the Central Coventry Fire District will be back before a judge in Kent County Courthouse.
Last time the issue was in court the judge approved an up to $300,000 from the town of Coventry to the Fire District to keep the doors open.
Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.