Details posted, updated on Cumberland fire merger plan

Details posted, updated on Cumberland fire merger plan

UPDATE: New language replaces appointed initial board with an elected one.

CUMBERLAND – The Town Council resolution that sets into motion the plan for unifying the four independent fire districts was released by Town Hall on Friday afternoon and is scheduled to be taken up at the council’s meeting this Wednesday, May 1 at 7:30 p.m.

The resolution, which is designed to trigger bills before the House and Senate chambers, outlines the entire governing structure of the single, but still independent district.

The resolution describes a special election in September of this year to elect an interim board to serve 15 months until the November 2014 election. Thereafter, fire commission members would be elected every two years along with Town Council and School Committee members.

Mayor Daniel McKee has made the point that residents’ response to a 2010 referendum, which saw 80 percent favoring a merger, is sufficient and definitive evidence of voters’ approval.

- Marcia Green

Here’s the resolution, 2013-24, in its entirety, including the language change under governing body.

RESOLUTION: REQUESTING THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY TO ENACT LEGISLATION TO INCORPORATE A UNIFIED CUMBERLAND FIRE DISTRICT AND TO CONSOLIDATE THE CUMBERLAND, NORTH CUMBERLAND, CUMBERLAND HILL, AND VALLEY FALLS FIRE DISTRICTS INTO SAID DISTRICT BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TOWN COUNCIL OF CUMBERLAND AS FOLLOWS:-

WHEREAS, There are presently four independently chartered fire districts in the Town of Cumberland, resulting in four different tax rates; and

WHEREAS, At the general election on November 2, 2010, the electors of the Town of
Cumberland, by a margin of 80% to 20%, overwhelming approved a local binding referendum question mandating the Town Council to implement a consolidated fire services delivery agency in the Town of Cumberland; and

WHEREAS, Article VI, Section 14, of the Rhode Island Constitution, grants the General Assembly the authority to create corporations;

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE TOWN COUNCIL OF THE TOWN OF CUMBERLAND, RHODE ISLAND AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1. The Cumberland Town Council respectfully requests that the General Assembly enact legislation to incorporate a unified Cumberland fire district and to consolidate the Cumberland, North Cumberland, Cumberland Hill, and Valley Falls fire districts into said district, and that said act of incorporation include the following provisions relating to governance and interim financial management:

1. The initial governing body of the Unified Cumberland Fire District shall be an "Initial Elected Fire Committee."

Beginning no later than September of 2013, with a special election, seven members of the Initial Cumberland Fire Committee (hereinafter the "Initial Committee") shall be elected. Each of the five council districts shall elect one member, with two members being elected from the town at large. It shall be a non-partisan election for a 15-month term. The winning candidates shall be sworn in immediately after the election results are certified.

2. Beginning no later than November of 2014, with the general election, seven members of the Permanent Cumberland Fire Committee (hereinafter the "Permanent Committee") shall be elected. Each of the five council districts shall elect one member, with two members being elected from the town at large. It shall be a non-partisan election for a two-year term. The winning candidates shall be sworn in immediately after the election results are certified. Any vacancy in the membership of the Permanent Committee shall be filled by written ballot of a majority of all the members of the Town Council for the remainder of the term of office, provided that the person selected to fill said vacancy shall be an elector from that district. A vacancy in said membership of the Initial or Permanent Committee shall occur if a member dies; resigns from office; ceases to be a resident and/or elector of the district in which elected, or shall be absent for four consecutive regular meetings or six regular meetings within a 12-month period unless said absence/s are excused by a majority vote of the whole Committee.

3. Any and all elections, provided for under this act, shall be administered by the state board of elections and the town of Cumberland board of canvassers.

B. Initial Financial Management.

1. The initial financial management of the Cumberland Hill, Valley Falls, North Cumberland and Cumberland Fire Districts shall be assumed by the Initial Elected Fire Committee. The initial committee shall assume and have all the powers and duties of the Board of Fire Commissioners for each of the four existing fire districts and to the extent that this contravenes the existing public laws relating to each of the four existing fire districts, this act shall control and supersede said prior acts. During the first year, following the election of the initial committee, in September, 2013, the initial committee shall manage and oversee the four existing budgets of the existing fire districts, provided, however, that during the budget cycle for the fiscal year beginning on July 1, 2014, the Initial Committee shall adopt one budget and tax rate for the unified district.

C. Existing Boards of Commissioners.

The existing boards of commissioners for the Cumberland Hill, Valley Falls, North Cumberland and Cumberland Fire Districts as created by the General Assembly be dissolved and all of their powers and duties pass to the Interim and Permanent Fire Committee.

D. Other provisions.

The act shall also contain any and all provisions that are usual and customary for said act, including, but not limited to, provisions relating to name and jurisdiction; electors; bylaws; preservation of rights under existing labor contracts pursuant to Section 28-7-19.1 of the R.I.G.L.; authorization to borrow funds; taxes and the collection thereof; and corporate status.

SECTION 2. The Cumberland Town Council also respectfully requests that the Senators and Representatives of the Town of Cumberland sponsor and support said legislation.
The town clerk, immediately upon the passage of this resolution, shall send copies of same to said Representatives and Senators.

SECTION 3. THAT THIS RESOLUTION SHALL BECOME EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY UPON ITS PASSAGE BY THE CUMBERLAND TOWN COUNCIL.