Town Manager Report: Merger of East Greenwich Fire District into Town Government Has Resulted in More Costly, Less Efficient, Less Effective Fire Protection Service
Council Directs Town Manager to Develop Reorganization Plan
East Greenwich, RI – A report on the impact of the East Greenwich Fire District merger into the Town of East Greenwich presented to the Town Council, shows the decision to merge has negatively impacted the Town in unanticipated ways resulting in a more costly, less efficient and less effective fire protection service.
Among the key findings in the 17 page report, prepared by Town Manager Gayle Corrigan:
- There was little due diligence done at the time of the merger in 2013 including,
- No appreciation for the strengths or weaknesses of the District form of government, and the District’s ability to raise taxes above the state mandated cap of 4% annually, if necessary
- The loss of $300,000 per year in contracted fire service to the City of Warwick
- There was no financial impact analysis conducted as required by Rhode Island law on the collective bargaining agreements for FY 14-16 or FY17-19 entered into with the firefighters union
- The Town Council never approved the hiring of six new firefighters as required by the East Greenwich Charter
- Since 2011 the number of incidents reported by the fire department grew by 47%, mainly as a result of alarm reset calls being classified as Service calls
- In FY2018, the EGFD will have at least $800,000 in overtime expenses ($250,000 unbudgeted) due to the loss of ‘floater’ firefighter positions negotiated away in the last two collective bargaining agreements
- In FY 2019, two more ‘floater’ firefighter positions will be eliminated, making it necessary to budget between $1-million and $1.2 million for overtime – to cover up to 500 hours of overtime weekly that the Town currently expends
“It’s clear the consolidation of the Fire District into the Town did not achieve the favorable public policy goal of reducing costs through consolidation that were presented at the time of the merger,” said Sue Cienki, East Greenwich Town Council President. “We are now all working hard to restore fiscal stability for the East Greenwich taxpayers.”
The Council has instructed Town Manager Corrigan to present a reorganization plan for the Fire Department at the next Town Council meeting on April 9, 2018.
A copy of the entire 17-page report presented to the Town Council can be found here (http://www.eastgreenwichri.com/DocumentCenter/View/2418).