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Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Charlestown should do this now

Rep. Tanzi’s legislation to grant SK firefighters tax exemptions heard in committee

Charlestown shares the same problems as South Kingstown in recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters. Granting tax credits is one way to address this problem. In Charlestown, we could fund fire-fighter tax credits by revoking the property tax privileges enjoyed by its two FAKE fire districts (Central Quonnie and Shady Harbor) who have no capacity to fires, but own tens of millions of prime coastal land and pay little or no property tax. - W. Collette

South Kingstown’s all-volunteer firefighting force is looking to entice recruits with a break on their district fire taxes, with help from a bill introduced by Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi. 

“We are very fortunate in South Kingstown to have an all-volunteer force of firefighters who provide excellent service to our residents,” said Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett). 

“However, in recent years it has become more difficult for them to recruit volunteers. Allowing the district to grant tax exemptions will give them another important recruitment tool and show our community’s appreciation for the work that they do protecting us.” 

Representative Tanzi’s bill (2024-H 7838) would allow the Union Fire District of South Kingstown to grant district fire tax exemptions or abatements to current and retired firefighters and their spouses. 

Supporters of the bill point to the rising cost of housing making it harder to recruit and retain firefighters in the South Kingstown. 

“As chief of the department, my goal is to retain enough people to protect the town of South Kingstown,” said Chief Steven Pinch of the Union Fire District. 

“We receive over 2,000 calls per year and we stay very busy, but it’s difficult to maintain the staff to respond to that level of call volume. We feel this bill will help us attract older fire fighters with homes in town and retain younger ones as they settle down and are able to stay with us for a longer period of time.” 

The bill was heard in the House Municipal Government and Housing Committee Thursday. It was held for further study to allow the committee to review the bill and the testimony submitted on its behalf.