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Town Council To Review Draft Fire District Merger Legislation At Next Meeting

But they will hold off submitting it until after they meet again with Fire District commissioners on Feb. 4.


The Town Council will review a draft of legislation calling for the East Greenwich Fire District to be merged with the Town of East Greenwich at their next meeting, on Jan. 28. 

In November, voters approved by a two-to-one margin a nonbinding referendum question that asked if the Fire District should be merged with the town. The Fire District was against the merger and remains a reluctant party to the discussion.

According to Town Council President Michael Isaacs, Fire Commissioner Chairman Bill Daly told him the Fire District has "some ideas they want to put on the table." He did not specify what those ideas might entail.

Town Solicitor Peter Clarkin said the Fire District's solicitor, Scott Spear, indicated he thought a binding referendum would need to be held before any merger could take place. Isaacs pointed out that the referendum was nonbinding only because it was beyond the scope of the voters to decree a merger.

"My interpretation was that it was nonbinding because it’s not possible for it to be binding," he said at a meeting of the Town Council Monday night. Rather, he said, it must be done at the state legislative level. 

Town Manager Bill Sequino also offered Town Council members a list of possible changes to the town charter to accommodate the merger. (That list was not made available at the meeting.) The charter already has in it a provision allowing for a town fire department, so it's unclear just what, if anything, would need to be changed in the charter.

During public comment, Robert Vespia said, "Is there any possibility to not disband the Fire District?"

He said the town was interested in historic buildings – "But here we are talking about an historical entity that's been around since 1797.... Is there any way to keep the Fire District as the Fire District but under the town?"

He continued, "Instead of saying this historical entity is being thrown away and we're going to start from scratch ... is there any way to keep the Fire District in existance, but under the umbrella of the town?

"It's a historic entity I would hate to see flushed away for no reason," Vespia said.

The Council meets next on Monday, Jan. 28. They meet with the EG Fire District commissioners on Monday, Feb. 4.

Town Clerk January 15, 2013 at 01:48 PM
That is Monday, January 28th.
Elizabeth McNamara January 15, 2013 at 01:49 PM
Thanks, TC!
sue lewis January 15, 2013 at 02:06 PM
The Fire Commissioner keeps saying they are doing fine and there's no reason to merge with the town, but he never mentions or talks about the 20 million dollar unfunded retirement liability they have or how they intend to resolve it. I dont think that this is doing "just fine" or that having a 700k slush fund is showing fisccal responsibility when this debt exists.

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