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A Hummel Report Investigation

The Local Perspective

Since The Hummel Report first uncovered massive financial problems three years ago in the Central Coventry Fire Districts, taxpayers have repeatedly tried to pull the plug on the bankrupt district, rejecting budget increases and telling receivers they want structural change. Earlier this month the latest state receiver announced a new five-year contract that he says achieves major concessions from the union. But two local leaders - who were frozen out of the negotiations - say it still doesn’t get to the heart of the district’s troubles.

Click here to watch our 2012 report on the Central Coventry Fire District.

SCRIPT

If you hadn’t been paying attention to what’s going on with the Central Coventry Fire District the past three years, the new contract proposal unveiled earlier this month sounded pretty good. Staffing cuts, limits on overtime, increased contributions on healthcare.
But many of the people who attended the meeting - and those elected to represent the taxpayers - have a different point of view than that of state receiver Mark Pfeiffer’s and his new five-year contract proposal with the union..
Gralinski: ``The money he’s saved is truly smoke and mirrors.’’
Fred Gralinski chairs the current fire board, which replaced a board of directors that drove the district into bankruptcy. But Gralinksi’s board has had no say in the new contract.
That’s because under state law Pfeiffer, a retired ┬áSuperior Court judge who became the district’s third receiver in January, has the sole authority to negotiate contracts and set tax rates, which is what he’s doing, largely without the input of the citizens who are footing the bill.
Gralinski: ``To get any information out of these people we have to use Freedom of Information (ACT) - even then they don’t answer everything.’’
Hummel: ``And you’re the board.’’
Gralinski: ``And we’re the board, he has total disdain for citizens.’’

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