The proposed Coventry Budget was presented at a meeting on March 15th. The Town Council listened and took action. The Town Council has adjusted the proposed budget from a requested increase in spending of 1.73% and higher taxes to a new lower level that will not raise taxes this year in Coventry, if the current proposed budget is adopted by referendum.
Approximately six people spoke at the meeting asking questions and making suggestions. Below is an example of what was said taken from the minutes of the meeting:
Coventry is an exceptional small New England community, as is often mentioned at the Town Council meetings we have active support with citizen volunteers stepping forward to serve their community. One such organization Coventry Helping Hand has recently been organized to assist our neighbors, not with a handout but with helping hands. The organizers recognize that in this economy some of our neighbors are struggling.
The Council needs to be cognizant and more mindful of the impact even a small tax increase will have on our community at this time. While some will call this proposed increase minimal and point out that to an owner of a median valued house it would be only $1.15 per month, but that can be significant. How many of us are aware of the number of families living on an economic edge in this town? We have a community food bank that is currently serving about 115 to 120 clients per week. That translates to 115 families that need assistance for even the basic need of food.
Yes your increase is small but it is not compassionate. I ask that you follow the lead of Coventry Helping Hands and reach out to help your neighbors, reach for your pencils to erase the small increase in your budget. It will not solve their problems but it will not add additional hardship. If we can find money to pay extra for green energy we should be able to find a way to help our neighbors.
According to statistics provided by State agencies and published in the Hartford Business Journal out of 61 towns in the greater Hartford region Coventry was one of 16 towns that spent more money than the total taxes collected in 2010. Only nine municipalities had debt service in excess of their total general fund balance. Coventry was one of only five towns to appear in both categories. According to the Connecticut Department of Labor of the five towns, Coventry has the lowest annual wages, at $33,692. In today’s economy of rising prices that leaves little for discretionary spending and any tax increase can be a burden.
There is a large built in increase this year since the basis of comparison was a budget inflated over actual cost last year largely due to savings in the insurance line item. Even a zero increase this year allows for additional spending since we over budgeted last year.
The Governor has talked about shared sacrifice and too often that has been equated to higher taxes with the sacrifice coming from the taxpayers. It is time the shared sacrifice be looked at from another side, the side of government and spending increases. At no time in the past 25 years has a tax increase been more inappropriate than this year. At no time has the economic hardship on our neighbors been this difficult.
For the sake of your neighbors, I would ask that you adjust your budget to show compassion for your neighbors living is less fortunate circumstances.
This is a budget that should find widespread support among all voters in Coventry. In a word this budget referendum vote should be YES!