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Three different budgets proposed to save troubled fire district

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by ABC Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis

mcurtis@abc6.com 

This just in!

Not one; not two; but three different budget proposals to save the financially troubled Central Coventry Fire Department.

Already, there is controversy because under some plans, firefighters would be eliminated.

"I see several of them that have significant cuts to the staffing which would really cut the public safety for the town of Coventry. Not just Central Coventry, but  all the other districts we back up," said Captain David Gorman who heads the Firefighter's Union.

But others like the idea, and believe the district could also save money by privatizing the rescue service, and merging firefighting services with neighboring departments.

"And I think it's the healthiest and best thing for the community and it will stop all of this ridiculous taxation, over taxation by people that really don't care about the town, other than their finances," said John Assalone, a taxpayer advocate in Coventry.

ABC6 Chief Political Reporter Mark Curtis said, "If the Fire District Board of Directors, and ultimately the taxpayers can't approve a budget, it's possible the judge here will simply have to pull the plug on this Fire Department."

Critics say department salaries are the biggest part of the budget problem and taxpayers won't approve any budget.

"I am glad the people are sticking up for themselves. You're not going to badger people in Coventry. I don't think so. They've had it," said John Assalone.

Firefighters say they deserve what's in their contract, but left the door open.

"Nothing is off the table. We're willing to negotiate and to have discussions on everything," said Captain Gorman.

The first vote on the budget comes October 21st. The Board will hold an informal discussion of the budgets, Thursday night October 11, 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex on Flat River Road.

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