On Wednesday May 18th a letter to the editor appeared in the Journal Inquirer signed by signed by Cheri Trudon and Elizabeth Woolf with the headline, Thanks, Coventry citizens. Cheri Trudon is the chairwoman of the Board of Education and Elizabeth Woolf is the chairwoman of the Town Council.
The letter opened with a notation of thanks by saying, “We thank Coventry citizens for supporting the 2011-12 budget, which passed at the May 3 referendum.” The letter closed in part by saying, “In these times of economic stress, it is difficult to ask taxpayers to bear the burden of any tax increase, even the extremely modest increase required by this budget.”
This would have been a nice gesture if the facts were true, unfortunately that is not the case and they know it. Make no mistake, there was a tax increase but it was not “required” by this budget unless you wanted a planned surplus buried into the budget falsely.
Prior to the vote both the Town Council and the Board of Education were aware that the line item for health insurance was grossly over budget. They did not make an effort to make that information public knowledge. Their omission of the facts and silence on the issue, prior to the vote was clearly for political purposes or to establish an intended slush fund for spending not called for in the proposed budget.
Now in their letter they are calling the tax increased “required” when in fact if the savings had been disclosed and the budget reduced by the amount of savings prior to the vote not a single other line item would have been cut and a tax increase would not have been required. The savings known about prior to the vote was a minimum of $400,000 and on the day after the vote the news leaked out about a new bid and potential savings of over $600,000. This information can be verified by looking back at the Opining Quill for May 1 and May 4th.
Their letter to the editor should not have been a thank you but rather a letter of apology for the deception of facts that they presented as a “real need” to the voters. The voters may have passed the budget, but the voters never knew they were establishing a slush fund. Mrs. Woolf and Mrs. Trudon knew what they were doing, but didn’t tell the voters.
The first priority of any elected leader should be honesty. The deception of facts on something as basic as a Town Budget does not instill trust in the honesty of our Town leadership.
In the very last line of their letter referring to taxpayers it says, “We believe that their support reflects a desire to maintain the quality of life here in our town, which is rich in history and a beautiful place to call home”. That is a statement I think we can all agree on but it did not require a tax increase, it could have been done without establishing a slush fund.