As you know, we are faced with a challenge related to our budget for 2019-2020. The administration has worked hard to present what we believe to be a budget necessary to maintain the town's services and meet necessary obligations. With the rejection of the original budget, we have worked to make adjustments and reductions that will have impacts, but that we believe are 'workable' reductions without significant impacts but are the maximum we can do without more severe and unacceptable or irresponsible impacts to town operations.
In my revised budget and my remarks, I hope that I have demonstrated that I have listened to all sides and viewpoints from our taxpayers and residents. You have my commitment to continue to do so as we move forward. I also believe, through my relationships and discussions with the Town council that we all agree and commit to working to continue to move Coventry forward and to create a sustainable path for the future with minimal financial impact to our taxpayers. We are also committed to working with our School Committee and School Administration in this regard.
I recognize, no, all of us recognize, there is a concern about the future, subsequent budgets and potential increases and impacts next year and in years to come. While no one can make any promises regarding next year, we can make a commitment to work to take steps to attempt to be better positioned for subsequent years.
I urge all taxpayers to understand the very real impacts we will face if the revised budget is not passed. Whatever your position and vote, I would encourage everyone to make certain your decision is based on FACT. You may not like the impacts we are sharing and/or you may not agree with those impacts and the decisions. However, they ARE the decisions, actions and Impacts that we will be taking. I am committing to working with All PARTIES to take the following actions to plan and prepare for subsequent budget cycles.
TAX ASSESSMENT: Complete review and take the actions needed to make appropriate and fair modifications to the current tax assessment process including the tax freeze program, in an effort to balance the town’s needs with taxpayer relief.
GRANTS: Actively work to identify and pursue appropriate grants that will provide direct benefit, impact and relief to existing expenses and needs of the town.
EFFICIENCIES & COST REDUCTIONS: Conduct a comprehensive review of expenses and services to Identify, investigate and implement actions that will reduce and/or control current expenses. This includes the implementation of an Employee Recommendation Program which encourages, welcomes and appropriately utilizes the suggestions of town employees to identify efficiencies, waste and cost reductions.
TOWN MANAGER’S BUDGET ADVISORY COMMITTEE: Quickly establish a budget committee consisting of town & school department administrators, town and school employees and citizens that will meet monthly to review current expenses, future potential savings, including the use of shared services, shared purchasing and all other avenues of cost reduction and/or revenue enhancement.
COMMUNICATION: Continue to improve communication to all residents and taxpayers including the continued development of email communication as well as a monthly update from the Town Manager utilizing various communication vehicles (social media, web, email, etc.)
SEWERS: Work with the Town Council on the implementation of the Office of Auditor General recommendations in his recently released report. Continue to assess the overall sewer program and work to resolve funding issues while also preserving the ability to accommodate and expand use in commercial areas that will allow for continued economic development opportunities in these areas for the benefit of the town.
Some of the issues facing the Town of Coventry are over 35 years in the making, they won’t be corrected overnight. The Towns elected officials and administrators are working to fix the mistakes of the past, making changes in the present and preparing for the future for our town.
Interim Town Manager