© 2018 by Coventry Republican Town Committee. Matthew O'Brien Sr, Treasurer.

  • The Democrat-controlled Town Council sent the Town Council Chairwoman and Town Manager out to testify in Hartford in support of creating a new conveyance tax on all property sales.

  • The Democrat-controlled Town Council also defeated a resolution opposing the implementation of tolls on all of Connecticut's major highways at a Town Council meeting. At the following Town Council meeting, Democrats directed the Town Manager to present information about how affordable they thought the toll plan would be. They also had over a dozen members of the Democrat Town Committee write in to the Town Council to strongly support tolls, and the Democrat Town Council's position in favor of tolls. All of these letters are attached to the minutes of the Town Council Meetings.

  • A surplus results when the items budgeted are fully paid for and there is additional money available in the budget that is not being used to fund those items in the budget. Until a few years ago, the term "surplus" was used routinely by the Board of Education in its monthly reporting. They recently began calling surplus funds "unexpended funds." This is the same thing. Funds that remain in the budget after the items contained in the budget are paid for.

  • The Board of Education has full authority over all the funds appropriated and they determine whether to spend the surplus funds; OR return them to the town. The Board has complete discretion under state law and the Board decides how to spend any surplus funds.

  • The Democrat Board of Education has made these decisions:

    • Without identifying that they have had a surplus to parents or taxpayers and how much it is

    • Have decided how to spend these funds without input from parents or taxpayers.

  • We believe that Coventry parents and taxpayers are not aware that the Board of Education had a $515,000 suplus in the 2018-2019 school year. Coventry parents and taxpayers had no input into how or if the surplus was spent.

  • This amount was confirmed through the transfers generated by the Board of Education during the school year and confirmed by the Town Finance Director at a Town Council meeting.

  • In recent history the Board of Education has routinely ran surpluses each year, as Democrats tell voters that the schools are somehow underfunded. This money could have been left in taxpayer's pockets, returned to taxpayers, or the Board could have notified taxpayers and asked for input on how it was spent.

    • 2018 - 2019  +$515,000

    • 2017 - 2018  +$495,000

    • 2016 - 2017  +$200,000

    • 2015 - 2016  +$533,100

This is the list of budget transfers by the Coventry Board of Education in FY 18-19. On the left hand column is the list of items/accounts that money was moved FROM.

 

On the right hand column is the list of items/accounts where the money was transferred TO.

 

By adding up either column, you can see that $515,278 was transferred out of original accounts and into new accounts to pay for unbudgeted expenses. This is our Total Surplus number.

  • It is important to note that when the Town votes on the Town budget, taxpayers are approving the spending plan and setting the budget. The referendum does not set the mil rate or determine what taxes will be paid. The mil rate and tax levels are determined after the budget referendum based on the information available about  expected revenues (state grants, etc.)

  • When the Town Council deliberated on the 2018-2019 budget, the Governor had released his proposed budget and proposed to reduce Coventry's state grants by an amount that the Democrats on the Town Council projected would require a .4 mil increase to balance the proposed budget. The Democrat legislature had not yet proposed their budget.

  • After the Town Council's budget passed at referendum, the Democrat majority on the Town Council wanted to immediately increase the mil rate by .4 mils. Julie Blanchard (R) and Matt O'Brien Sr (R) pushed to delay the decision until the next Town Council meeting because CT legislators appeared close to passing their budget.

  • The State Legislature did pass their budget the following week. The final budget did not cut Coventry's state grants as the Governor's budget proposal did. In fact, the final budget INCREASED Coventry's state grant monies by an ADDITIONAL $100,000.

  • The budget that was passed by Coventry taxpayers would have required a 31.9 mil rate to balance the budget. This would have been a .1 mil reduction from the 32 mil rate. Taxes could have been cut.

  • What did Coventry Democrats and Mike Sobol do? They decided to "ONLY" raise the mil rate by .2 mils resulting in Coventry collecting $300,000 more in taxes than was needed to balance the budget taxpayers had approved. Then they took credit with Coventry taxpayers for reducing the increase from their own incorrect projection of .4 mils to "ONLY" .2 mils.

  • This was wrong and unnecessary taxation and was a breach of the trust of Coventry taxpayers.

  • On October 21st, the Library Renovation Committee presented plans to the Town Council for the first time since being given their charge in February 2019.

  • A 3rd vote on library construction, renovations, or expansion is expected following the 2019 municipal election in November.

  • Total project cost could be $2.5 million, but it will depend on cost savings and finalized plans.

  • After the Town Council had passed the 2019-2020 budget and sent it to referendum, the Town Council received the minutes of the Board of Education Fiscal Committee Special Meeting of April 25, 2019 in which is was stated that "a special education student moved out of Coventry on April 1st, which will create a savings in FY20 of approximately $100,000."

  • It is clear that the Board of Education knew that this student was moving out of the district during their deliberations with the Town Council and the student actually moved out of the District by April 1st, before the Town Council voted to send the budget to referendum.

  • Why was this information not shared with the Town

Council and considered as part of the final budget? If the Council had accepted this reduction in the Board of Education budget we would have been able to REDUCE taxes this year.

The State cut Coventry's state grants by about $400k during the 2016-17 fiscal year - well after the budget had passed.

We did not send out a supplemental tax bill to taxpayers - instead we cut spending and tightened our belt and absorbed the cuts in that year's budget. This left a $400k hole in our budget (We were starting with $400k less state grants than we had built into the 16-17 year budget.)

Then the Democrat state legislature cut our 2017-2018 state grants by about $600k more (on top of the 

$400k they took during the previous fiscal year). So state revenues for the 2017-2018 budget were $1,006,000 less than what we had built into the 2016-2017 budget.

 

So what did we do? We actually cut the total year to year budget by almost $250,000. So the 2017-28 budget was almost $250,000 lower than the 2016-2017 budget we passed. This included wage freezes and cuts in most areas of the town. The Board of Education helped too.

 

So the remaining hole of $750k was filled by raising the mil rate by .8 mils which raised $750k in additional tax revenue.

 

These levels of year to year cuts were unprecedented/unheard of.

 

Here is the difference - Republicans were faced with State revenue cuts of over $1 million dollars and we cut total year to year spending by a quarter of a million dollars and raised taxes of $750k.

 

In 2017-2018 Democrats had all of the Governor's proposed cuts (.4 mils) to Coventry's state grants RESTORED and Coventry received an additional almost $100k in State Grants beyond what was originally anticipated when we built our budget. To balance the budget that was passed by taxpayers, the Council could have cut the mil rate by .1 mils to 31.9 mils. That would have balanced the budget that was passed at referendum. The Democrats and Mike Sobol raised Coventry's taxes by an additional .2 mils. This raised $300k more than was needed to pass the budget that taxpayers approved. Julie Blanchard and Matt O'Brien Sr. screamed bloody murder over this - repeatedly. That is why in 2019 when the Governor's proposed cuts (again .4 mils) to Coventry's state grants were totally restored by the state legislature's approved budget - they COULDN'T even consider raising our taxes again.

 

You have to remember that when Taxpayers approve the budget - IT SETS THE SPENDING LEVEL for the town.The Town Council sets the mil rate based on the ANTICIPATED REVENUES expected and the amount needed to balance the budget that taxpayers passed at referendum.

 

What the Democrats and Mike Sobol did was wrong. They know that now.

 

They came up with a lovely list of other things that they supposedly were spending the additional revenue on.

 

(In 2017-2018) One was to fill the hole they created by taking $95,000 from the Town's fund balance to create a fund to be used for Lake treatments to fight the Hydrilla invasive plant. They described it as a crisis and an absolute necessity. TODAY 16 months later, there is $54,800 of that $95,000 remaining in that account that has never been spent.

 

Simply put. If the Legislature had not restored Coventry's state grants and the budget required a .4 mil increase to balance the budget that taxpayers passed - would the Democrats and Mike Sobol have raised taxes an additional .3 mils over the amount needed to pass the budget (and raised $300k more than the budget required?) - NO. They did it BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT THEY COULD GET AWAY WITH IT.