- Associated Press - Monday, June 8, 2015

COVENTRY, R.I. (AP) - Officials at a financially distressed fire district in Rhode Island say taxpayers can choose to approve a tax increase or dissolve the district.

Coventry Fire District officials say the district has been deficit spending for years and is “grossly underfunded.” They say it will run out of money unless a local firefighters union makes major contract concessions, the town provides more assistance and the taxpayers approve a substantial supplemental tax increase.

Chairman Frank Palin told WPRO-FM (https://bit.ly/1MCaDQA ) the town’s antiquated fire charter needs to be re-evaluated, and dissolving the district may be the next step toward a municipalwide fire department.

“You have a very bad toothache, and this district has had a bad tooth ache for 25 years, and the dentist looks at you and says ‘we’ve got to do a root canal (using) 1965 methods, or we’re going to pull the tooth,” Palin said of the decision to dissolve the district.

The district will hold an informational meeting on June 10 at Feinstein Middle School.

The referendum will be held at Club Jogues from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. June 17.

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