Mr. John Barrett the founder of Coventryfest and current member of the Coventry Board of Education spoke during the Town Council Audience of Citizens portion of the meeting this past Monday. In two minutes of plain talk John reaffirmed how the citizens of Coventry were intentionally misled during the Town meeting on the budget.
Two Minutes of honesty concerning the excess money appropriated for health insurance in our budget. Mr. Barrett he was said “about two weeks in advance prior to the Town Meeting” he was told, “that was going to be an 8% minimum decrease in our insurance premium.”
He went on to disclose that while the current carrier was offering an eight percent decrease CIGNA was expected to come in at a figure “significantly less”. He said he asked at the Town Meeting to define that for the people and the answer at that time was the figures were not quit available and yet he knew that we as a town were looking at a least an eleven percent savings compared to the budgeted amount.
Mr. Barrett said, “It has been bothering me for a very long time that, we knew, as a Town, as leaders in the town that this was a fact, that this was going to happen and we still passed a tax increase on our people. That is wrong!” He went on to say Town Council member Mr. Williams had expressed the same feeling to the Board of Education and he agreed with Mr. Williams.
So there you have it in two minutes a disclosure that the Town leaders knew they were presenting a budget that increased our taxes when they knew in advance their presentation was not a full and complete disclosure of fact. What they did was wrong and deceptive now they have an opportunity to correct their deception. Our hope is they will see and admit the error of their ways and not spend the money received via deception.
Rebating the funds to the taxpayers directly is not a viable option. It would be step in the right direction to admit the error and place the money in the general fund. Doing so would be to the benefit of all taxpayers and could be used to offset taxes next year.
The Board of Education would be showing a total lack of respect for citizens of Coventry if they decided to spend the money as if it were theirs to spend anyway they want. Spending this money on insurance was the plan, it was represented as an necessary expense that could not be avoided to spend it now a slush fund would be inappropriate.
In the interest of a fair disclosure of facts it should be pointed out at the time the budget was set the information on the insurance reduction was not fully available but it was available at the time of the Town Meeting. It should have been disclosed at that time and the budget could have been amended at the meeting by the people at the meeting to reflect the real facts available at that time.
The Town staff did their job and did it well in gaining a reduction which should have created a saving to the benefit of the taxpayers. In this case it seems to have created a potential slush fund which may be spent without regard for the original intent for which it was approved. Mr. Williams and Mr. Barrett are correct when they say spending what should have been a savings to benefit the taxpayers is wrong.
Mr. Barrett is not running for re-election and will be moving from Coventry in November. His contribution to this community will be missed, his passion and insight on the Board of Education will be missed.
To watch Mr. Barrett speaking during the audience of citizens you may click on the link below he begins speaking at the 1:00 mark:
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