HYANNIS – A Hyannis couple seeking to block a Saturday vote on a new Hyannis Fire Station was denied in a ruling on Thursday, October 23, by a federal judge.
John Julius and his wife Patricia Richards had filed the suit because they believe the fire station project violates Proposition 2 1/2 rules on raising taxes.
The vote will be the third try for the fire district to try to get approval for money to build the station. Fire district voters will be asked to approve $17,725,000. District voters have already approved $3 million for the station.
Julius says the cost of the station would mean a tax increase far exceeding 2 1/2 percent. District officials say the district is not subject to Proposition 2 1/2 rules, which, they say, apply only to municipalities.
The special fire district meeting is scheduled to be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Saturday, October 25, and voting on the fire station project is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. In order to pass, the district needs two-thirds approval. The last two votes, one on July 1 and one in the spring garnered a majority but not the two-thirds. The July 1 vote failed by just eight votes.
Attorney Brandon H. Moss of Murphy, Hesse, Toomey & Lehane of Quincy, who represents the fire district, said, “My understanding from reading the decision is that the plaintiffs were attempting to delay the October 25 special district meeting which involves authorizing money for the fire station and authorizing the sale of land. The decision that came out today denied that request which essentially allows the meeting to go on as scheduled.”
Federal Judge Denise J. Casper wrote in her decision that to obtain injunctive relief, they must show they are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims; that they will suffer irreparable harm without the restraining order; the injury they will sustain outweighs any harm to the defendants; and the restaining order will not harm the public interest.
On the likelihood of success criteria, Judge Casper said in looking at the language of Proposition 2 1/2, she finds that it does not apply to “districts” like the fire district, but only municipalities.