It’s budget season in Coventry that special time of the year when the Coventry taxpayer gets a chance to examine the budget proposal for next year. The entire budget is available on line but here at the Opining Quill the discussion will center on highlights.
So let’s get started looking at the document:
PG 1 “This budget was developed with the goal of avoiding any tax increase.”
Looks like they missed that goal as we are seeing a proposed increase but what is the real amount of the increase according to the documents it says 2.63% but that may be a bit misleading. (More on that later)
PG 2 “We will also need to monitor potential reductions by the Board of Assessment Appeals. If there are significant reductions the restated mil rate of 26.0 mils may need to be revisited.”
So here’s the number but it may not be exactly correct but maybe we are close (this number should be revised by Saturday)
PG 3 “No increases are proposed for the COVRRA trash fee or Sewer Use fees.”
Apparently since the numbers were not ready for the budget this could be called a true statement but anyone that is watching and listening to the Town Council knows there is the very real possibility of change very soon. (It looks like this summer) Just as a point of inquiry while no increase is currently proposed do you expect with any change the overall cost to you will go down?
PG 4 “Debt was refinanced saving $720,000 over the remaining life of the bonds. Other projects also had minor reductions as principal is paid off.”
“Saving $720,000” is the key phrase here. When you “save” money don’t you put it into one of your accounts to gain interest? So in this case you would expect by that phrase that our fund balance will be increased by that amount. Don’t be fooled the savings are being use to cover current costs and expenditures. Instead of reducing expenses the decision was to take a one time cost savings to cover the cost of current expenses. So now two years down the road we will still have the expenses but our “savings” will be all gone. Well maybe it was not a goal to increase fund balance (more on that later)
PG 4 “One large capital purchase requiring a referendum is listed in the capital budget, but no new long term debt payments are included in the budget. Funds for either the Public Works or Firehouse project are not included in this budget.”
So we have school roofs leaking driving students out of classrooms, Public Works in a crumbling building and a second fire department that wants to expand. The same Town Council that told us that the Public Works Garage and Firehouse were absolutely necessary is now ignoring those projects with no discussion of proposed solutions. This week they decided to again delay the roof project. The thinking must be, lets get the budget passed then give them the real facts. Just because they did not include these projects does not mean they will not suddenly appear. Leaking roofs do not generally repair themselves and the Town Garage will not improve.
PG 4 “$45,000 to replace ceilings in the C wing of Coventry Grammar School.
This looks like an interesting expense since the Board of Education has had considerable talk about ceiling repairs in the Middle School due to water damage and now Robertson School. This looks like it needs more explanation perhaps a question should be asked on Saturday. It is always nice to know how the priorities have been ranked.
PG 4 “The ECS grant is confusing since approximately 13.4% no longer comes to the Town but is a direct grant to the School district funded by ARRA funds.”
So how will these funds be spent are they in the budget? Who set the priority for how these funds were spent in the past year?
PG 5 “Property taxes can not on their own produce adequate income to support a quality education system.”
Take heart help is on the way. The Coventry Economic Development Commission just recently announced a new plan to “To explore how the Town can play an increased role in encouraging and facilitating the equestrian industry and related agricultural activities”. They will be sponsoring a forum on the subject on April 22, 7:00pm at Patriots Park. You can be the judge will this be the economic engine to drive our educational system to the next level? Is this good horse sense or just a pile of horse?
Come back and visit the Opining Quill again there will be more about the budget before Saturday. Feel free to forward the Opining Quill link to your neighbors and friends in Coventry.