The annual Coventry Town Meeting was held on Saturday morning and it turned out to be a rather typical New England affair. Voices were heard both pro and con on the issues and moments of question as issues of the Town Charter were raised.
There were several folks speaking in favor of adopting the Town Budget and words of thanks to the elected officials for their work. One speaker Jasmine Wolf waxed on poetically about the rural beauty of Coventry and applauded the Town Council for setting aside $30,000 in an account for some future purchase of open space. Ms. Wolf has been an active member of SOS Coventry a political action committee in Coventry. Ms. Wolf is also a consistent past contributor to the Moveon.org Political Action Committee.
Mathew O’Brien caused a stir and a bit of controversy when he made a motion to reduce the budget prior to the vote to adopt the budget. Initially Mr. O’Brien’s motion was ruled out of order but was then amended and the motion failed to pass. Mr. O’Brien was seeking to reduce the budget by $450,000.
Mr. O’Brien also asked the Town Council what would happen if the State reduced municipal aid to Coventry by over $3,000,000 as has been reported in the news if the current negotiations with State labor unions fail to bring high concessions. He could get no clear answer from the Town Council and the risk remains without knowing the outcome if the budget should pass.
Once passed the budget is the financial plan for the Town. If the State were to reduce aid after the budget the Town would face a passed budget that calls for spending without the income proposed in the budget. One alternative would be to just raise taxes to meet the extra $3,000,000 needed to reach spending goals.
It is up to the taxpayers to vote on the budget and vote yes and take that risk or vote no and wait until more definitive numbers are available. In the mean time it is wise to watch the actions from Governor and the unions to see what will happen.