COVENTRY — With less than a week to go before Coventry’s all-day budget referendum, Town Council President Ann Dickson is urging residents to support the $111.7 million budget being presented to them for the fiscal year beginning July 1.
Following a year that saw the town operating on last year’s budget after three failed budget referendums, the Town Council is seeking voters’ approval of a Fiscal Year 2022 budget that includes a 2.99 percent tax levy increase.
If approved, the tax rate would increase from $18.97 to $19.41 per $1,000 of valuation. A home valued at $200,000 would expect to see an annual tax increase of $87, while taxes on a $300,000 home would grow by $131, and a $400,000 home would see a $174 tax increase.
The budget, Dickson said this week, is “not a guessing game.”
“It was developed after a thoughtful debate by both the Town Council and the School Committee,” she said, “both separately and in joint sessions, all of which were open to the public.”
Adopted by the Town Council last month, the proposed budget being presented to voters is less than the one originally presented by the town manager. By shaving funding from various departments, and cutting the $500,000 that had been proposed for the town’s capital improvement program — the town should be able to make that up with federal pandemic relief funding — the council and town manager were able to develop what Dickson called a “lean” budget.
“The Town Council stands by its vote to approve the budget which is placed before the voters June 10,” Dickson said. “We all hold ourselves responsible and accountable to the taxpayers to manage an efficient and effective municipal government.”
The budget being voted on next week allocates $75.4 million to the schools, including a 3.3 percent increase in local appropriations.
School Committee Chair Katherine Patenaude said recently that the proposed school budget is “devoid of frills.”
“Each and every day we work with our school leaders to identify ways to provide the necessary services at the lowest costs,” Patenaude said. “The 2.99 percent increase will keep our present services in place as we look to close the structural deficits results from last year’s level funding.”
Dickson said she’s received a number of calls and emails from constituents who are concerned about issues like land use, road water management, potholes, deteriorating roads, trash services, wind turbine-generated noise, water levels in Johnson’s Pond, and sewer assessments and sewer tax costs.
And on social media and during public hearings, she added, residents have said they’d like to see the Trestle Bridge painted, the development of a vibrant commerce center, for rural life to remain unchanged and for the historic villages and buildings to be saved.
“Everything comes with a price tag,” Dickson said.
Residents can vote during the all-day referendum on Thursday, June 10. District 1 can vote at St. Francis Church, 132 Peckham Lane; District 2 will vote in the Town Hall Council Chambers, 1679 Flat River Road; District 3 voters will head to Club Jogues, 184 Boston Street; District 4 will vote at the Coventry Senior Center, 50 Wood Street; and District 5 will vote at Coventry High School, 40 Reservoir Road.
The budget will be officially presented during the Financial Town Meeting, to be held via Zoom Tuesday at 7 p.m.
“There are many voters who will support the budget,” Dickson continued. “They want a robust school system, a vibrant community, and a well-supported infrastructure. They understand that these are key ingredients for a community in which people want to live, work, and enjoy all the recreational opportunities that Coventry offers.”