REPUBLICANS: THE PARTY OF YES AND KNOW
Leading During the Pandemic
The Republican Town Council 2019-2021
The past two years have been very challenging and have demonstrated very clearly why the Republican Town Council should be given another two years. Coventry has been dramatically impacted by the Covid 19 (Covid) pandemic. This pandemic was unprecedented and presented many challenges for our Coventry family. The Republican Town Council has met those challenges and provided real leadership in the face of this adversity.
In the early months of the pandemic, we were all filled with fear of the damage that the virus was doing to families and individuals. The news was filled with reports of thousands of deaths and hospitals overflowing
with patients afflicted with the virus; shortages of medical supplies, no known cures, and few, if any successful treatments were even being discussed. There was so much that we did not know and our lives were
dramatically changed seemingly overnight. Pretty quickly our school buildings were closed and children were transitioned to at home, remote learning. The pandemic shut down a great deal of our economy and we all feared for what our futures might be.
The Town Council continued to function, as did our town. How would we continue to provide necessary services and support to our community? Working closely with our Town Manager, Director of Finance and
staff, the Council responded to this emergency situation and devised responsible plans to navigate us through the pandemic.
We recognized the financial hardships that our taxpayers were experiencing and the increased needs of so many of our Coventry family. Town government had to continue to function and that included the Town Council completing a budget for the next fiscal year. With so many unknowns, including how the State of Connecticut would be impacted and how Coventry taxpayers would be impacted. If the economy continued to falter, would the state be able to provide grant support for Coventry education and roads and others things that make up a large part of our town budget? Would Coventry taxpayers be able to provide property tax payments near current levels?
The Council immediately did what we could to lessen the impact of the town budget, while carefully making sure that all vital expenses would be met and support for our citizens would be available. Reducing spending as low as was prudent was step number one. Step number two was to develop a multi-year Covid 19 financial plan with the Town Manager. This plan reduced the expected collection rate for property taxes and in the first year of the plan and provided over $300,000 of money directly from the general fund to augment the budget.
Our plan provided for a 3-year period that would see support from the general fund reduced over the following two years, until it was back to zero. This plan has been favorably received by bonding agencies and
demonstrated a prudent response to the pandemic.
Our schools were also dramatically impacted. They incurred new, unbudgeted expenses related to moving to a remote, in-home, education plan. The schools also saved a great deal of money in their appropriated
budget, due to the closing of our schools, resulting from the elimination of transportation costs, athletics, travel, conferences, etc. The federal government provided funding to enable schools to provide meals to all
students. The Council successfully worked with the Board of Education to capture a good deal of these “Covid savings” and the Board was able to return almost $300,000 from their 19/20 school budget back to the
general fund, after covering all of their expenses. This was a critical piece of the plan.
During our budget deliberations for the 20/21 budget, the Town Council created a reserve fund of $100,000, during the 19/20 fiscal year, so it could be available during FY 20/21 and left the Council with all of its
authorized appropriation potential of 1 ½% of the total tax amount to respond to any emergency need that may arise. In the face of our uncertainty, this was a prudent and creative approach. As of June 30, 2021, the Board did not need to access those funds and were able to absorb almost $300,000 of unbudgeted Covid related expenses within their appropriated budget, and also generated some additional Covid related savings for the year. Our schools received grant funds from the federal government for our schools, during FY 20/21, through the state, that were desperately needed.
The federal government eventually also provided some grant relief for our Town operations. Our Finance Committee and the Council worked with the Town Manager to determine how the Town grant funds should
be used. Over the next year, there were 3 different rounds of funding provided, each with their own restrictions on how and when they could be spent.
Decisions about the use of the latest round of grant funding are ongoing and the Republican Town Council continues to work hard to prioritize the use of those funds focusing first on short term needs and then on projects that will have long term benefits for our town.
Providing leadership through the pandemic
- Set priorities and reduced spending
- Asked for and negotiated a freeze on increases for most Town staff
- Passed 2 conservative budgets
- Kept taxes low
- Used funds from the General Fund (part of a 3-year pandemic financial plan)
- Recovered funding (Covid Savings) from the B of Ed
- Utilized fund balance (3-year plan)
- Set up Education Reserve Fund for unbudgeted Covid expenses to support the Board of
- Best use of federal grant monies for immediate needs, to provide support for those most
impacted and invest in longer term projects to benefit our taxpayers