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Letter: How Does The TCC/Nelson Budget Help Hard-Pressed Taxpayers?

Tiverton resident Brian Medeiros writes a letter to the editor.

To the Editor:

Budgets can be a complex chore to understand, but the choice facing Tiverton voters at the May 15 Financial Town Referendum (FTR) is a simple one. There’s just one figure to consider: $1.39 per week. That’s the tax difference between the two options on the FTR ballot for a $250,000 home, less than the price of a cup of coffee. But the true cost of the “lower taxes” promised by Option 2 is stunning.

FTR Option 1 is the elected Budget Committee’s recommendation, put forth after months of effort. It responsibly funds our current level of town and school services, while requiring a minimal tax increase.

FTR Option 2 is the “David Nelson Budget," pushed by TCC, a Tea Party-style political-action committee. It arbitrarily cuts $600,000 from the amount the Budget Committee determined was needed to adequately fund the schools, with no clue as to what to cut to achieve this.The has demonstrated that closing this budget hole will require either closing a school or eliminating all extracurricular activities, as well as staff cutbacks. Is it worth decimating a school system recently recognized for rising achievement to save $1.39 week?

But that’s not all the frights in the TCC/Nelson Budget Funhouse. Although it guts the school budget, Option 2 nearly triples the municipal budget increase recommended by the Budget Committee. How can this be so if it taxes $1.39 per week less? By raiding the town’s already-depleted General Fund. In fact, this will put that fund below the legally-mandated level. But never fear: this budget promises that $200,000 in “new revenues” will magically appear. “Fiscal responsibility”? No, smoke-and-mirrors.

The Nelson/TCC budget option 2 would be a complete joke if not for the thousands of dollars TCC raises and spends to push its agenda. When you see the yard signs and receive the endless mailers and robocalls, ask yourself: why would a group offering something good for “all taxpayers” need to spend so much to sell its plan? With the TCC website soliciting anonymous contributions up to $1800, whose interests are they really concerned with?

When you hear TCC claim to represent “struggling taxpayers," keep in mind that the TCC-majority Town Council could ease their burden right now by increasing hardship tax abatements. But they won’t do it because they might have to pay a bit more to make up the difference. And consider: how does it help hard-pressed taxpayers to decimate both our schools and our General Fund?

Get the facts and speak out at CURB-Tiverton on Facebook, or at: www.curbtiverton.blogspot.com. TCC counts on voters not understanding the facts and being swayed by slogans. They need those who value education and long-term financial health over short-term gain to not vote. Surely most can agree that our schools and our financial well-being is worth more than $1.39 per week. Stand up for our community by voting for Option 1.

Brian Medeiros
Tiverton

Chris Cotta May 11, 2012 at 11:05 AM
It is time to begin thinking of finding replacements to run against the tcc for town council, school committee and budget committee. When you vote during this ftr process, remember why you voted! It is time to replace those who do not want to support our community, namely both Robertand Danielle Coulter, Lambert, Nelson, Chabot, and Caron. Tcc must go. both now and in November!!!
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM
Mr Mederios I believe you had a chance to help taxpayers a few years ago and didn't
Bob Gaw May 11, 2012 at 12:41 PM
A dollar thirty nine ($1.39) a week is not a lot to spend to improve our town. Lets do the math. I have lived here for 25 years and plan to liver here another 25 years, a $1.39 increase a week will actually cost me $1,807 dollars over the next 25 years, add that to all the other $1.39 +++ increases over the last 25 years and you don't have to be a genius to figure this one out. If it were only a $1.39 increase a year for the last 25 years that is over a $50,000 for my expected tenure in this town, unfortunately most increases have been MUCH more than $1.39 a week and the introduction of the FTR has forced the school committee to ask for less than the outrageous increases they needed (demanded) in the past but still not a 0% increase as some other towns seem to manage. The superintendent has indicated the retirements must be funded, seems like I am making life very comfortable for some in their retirement years while leaving little for myself and family.
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 01:04 PM
First hardship alloctation are what ever you call these taxbreaks are not in the hands of the town council as you impley Brian, you used that one back when you ranted about the FTR and the 2 man veto, so just stop that please, This is all about the health of this town as a whole, the town the taxpayers and the schools, all together the fact that many taxpayers older and yuonger have been subjected to tax increase after tax increase, most feed into the school system, which every year comes back and ask's for more and more, and this is not about money being taken from the schools, it's about money NOT being given to the schools, It's about NO BOOKS, NO PAPER.it's about living within your means, and doing it in the best manner possible for the students AND the town, I don't consider the to things as separate I see more folks on here now asking why the schools don't spend their money more efficeintly, and alot of you on here just cry that that is just anti education, this is so far from the truth that it's not even funny
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 01:12 PM
If you Don't think that it doesn't bother me to see Rene on here worried about her kids education you are wrong on that to, but at the rate the school spends money who's goin be supporting the school when she get to be a senior and and schools HAVE to close SPORTS are cut, because the school system has refused to spend the money they get like a business, not like a yearly right from the taxpayers, you can call whats going on here right now short sighted but YOU look around at the schools that right now have no sports no sports busses etc, thats down the road friend, if things don't slow down, but like all else on here that's just a thought, not proven YET. At least not in this town
Just Another Taxpayer May 11, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Jim L, in regards to spending, the Town's budget has increased by 55% over the past 11 years. Why doesn't this concern you?
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 01:37 PM
i didn't even know they got paid, but since patch showed up i would say they ALL earn it now
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 01:44 PM
yes step right up have people like tom call you a drunk, are others call you a lair, get a nickname like LORD , have yourself threatened, refer to other as a hycocrite, have your servive to your country questioned all by folks who say you hate your home town by trying to hold your taxes down, Step right up, I'll be at the end off the line but still right here
Just Another Taxpayer May 11, 2012 at 02:01 PM
Bob Gaw why don't you speak to how Town spending has increased by 55%. Why aren't you concerned with David Nelson's Alternative Budget that increase Town spending by 4.3% I don't see any zero increase in spending here! If you are only concerned about the School Department's expenditures and not the Town's then I would have to say that you support the TCC's primary goal which is to destroy public education in Tiverton at all costs.
KSilvia May 11, 2012 at 02:34 PM
Mr. Gaw, you said 'the introduction of the FTR has forced the school committee to ask for less than the outrageous increases they needed (demanded) in the past " Another lie, and yes that is what I am calling all these statements now because I am just disgusted at the number of them. This is the first year of the "FTR" and if you look at last years FTM docket you will see that the schools asked for a 2.6% increase (which was less than the town request of 3.0% by the way). Also, if you look here (slide 33) you will see that with the exception of 08-09, for the last ten years the municipal increase has been higher than the schools: http://www.tiverton.ri.gov/townclerk/sumryPresent_final.pdf So why then aren't you questioning a budget that raises Council spending by 4.6% and strips our savings? Biased?
Brian Medeiros May 11, 2012 at 02:35 PM
Jim, given how glaringly bad the TCC/Nelson budget you defend is, I'm not surprised you try to change the subject. What exactly does my record on the Council 4 years ago have to do with this debate? Nothing of course, but that's all you have. But since you brought it up, and obviously have no clue what went on during my time on the Council, here are just a few things I (and the others on the Council) did to benefit the town & taxpayers: I wrote the Charter Amendment requiring disclosure of details of labor contracts at least 3 days prior to a vote. I was the deciding vote against an earlier version of Pay As You Throw, as I felt it was an unnecessary tax. I wrote the TC Resolution condemning strong-arm tactics by NEA & supporting the School Cmte's position in negotiations. I can send you a long list if you'd like. Unlike this current TCC Council, we didn't just pay lip service to taxpayers while wasting their money on political agenda. It might help your cause if you actually knew something about what you spout off about. Just because you want something to be true to fit your worldview doesn't make it so.
Bob Gaw May 11, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Please read closely!! I never said I was not concerned about the increase in town spending, as a matter of fact I have issue with the fact we pay our ex police chief over $100,000 a year to collect ANOTHER full time pay in Swansea. In no way shape or form am I anti school, they just happen to be the group that are soo demanding and using scare tactics i.e sports and after school programs will be eliminated vs. tightening personnel budgets and eliminating positions. Look at the top eight schools in RI, almost half have a lower teacher ratio. 20% contribution to health insurance?? Bring it to 50% like most other industries and you would get your $600,000 shortfall in a heartbeat. Don't kid yourself by saying I want to destroy public education, contra ire my friend. Nice try but simply NOT true! I am against all government waste, not just under performing school systems.
Brian Medeiros May 11, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Jim: Again, wherever you come up with your information, it's wrong. the Council has control of setting hardship abatements. This Council exploits the "tough economy" & "struggling taxpayers" as a smokescreen to push their self-serving agenda. But when it comes time to actually DO something to help struggling taxpayers, they refuse to do so because helping struggling taxpayers might cost them a bit more to make up the difference. Yes, Jim, that's the definition of hypocrisy. Add to that imposing Pay As You Throw, a huge de facto tax increase no matter how useful a program, and now TRIPLING the municipal spending increase over what the BC recommended, & anyone can see that TCC isn't against taxes & spending, only taxing & spending that doesn't benefit them personally.
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 02:44 PM
because the schools increased much more so but we shall not talk of that shall we? thank you mr gaw
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 02:45 PM
and again someone posts and gets called a lair
KSilvia May 11, 2012 at 02:46 PM
When you start pointing out the waste and irresponsible items on the other side of the isle (come one saving of 3%??), I will start taking you seriously. Until then, you have a bone to pick with the schools, in my opinion. And once again, given the choice between believing the school committee, who are also parents/grandparents and have something to lose like the rest or us, versus someone like you telling me they are "scaring me", I am believing them.
Brian Medeiros May 11, 2012 at 02:53 PM
I understand your concern, & I share it. I live paycheck to paycheck & don't want to spend one dollar more than is necessary. But I also realize that you get what you pay for. If you want to have vital town & school services, you have to be willing to make a financial investment in them. I wouldn't pay any amount unnecessarily, but when it's a choice of $1.39/week or closing a school, eliminating extracurriculars that are crucial for students, AND emptying our already-low General Fund below the legal requirement, it's an obvious choice for me. The idea that any tax cut is automatically good is short-sighted and leads to higher costs down the road, not to mention lowering our quality of life as a community. If you or anyone else has a solution as to how to maintain reasonable services at a lower cost, that's something we should work on together as a community, instead of this annual attack on the schools that ends up only hurting the kids & further dividing the town. In the end, no one will win that type of battle, whatever happens on Tuesday. BTW: Your stats are skewed by the two years we needed to exceed the tax-cap due to extraordinary circumstances: 2008 when the $30 million school bonds came due, and 2010 when the state reneged on $1.5 million in vehicle funds. Otherwise, budget & tax increases have been moderate.
KSilvia May 11, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I called what he said a lie and then I proved it with facts. I did not call anyone a liar.
Bob Gaw May 11, 2012 at 03:01 PM
@ Ksilva: School percentage numbers should be decreasing as enrollment has decreased. Everyone has had to tighten up and I think all branches of our town need to tighten up. The 2.6% increase dollar number is much greater than 3.0%, consequently it is more closely scrutinized for potential savings thus making our community stronger and more attractive. Lets face it, if you look at the top 8 high schools in Rhode Island NO ONE is moving here for our school system and many won't move to Tiverton because of our taxes.
KSilvia May 11, 2012 at 03:12 PM
Actually Bob people ARE moving to Tiverton. Tiverton was actually one of the few communities in RI to have population growth: http://2010.census.gov/2010census/data/ And we DID move here for the schools, as did many of the parents I know. Our schools do very well with what they have and the population they must serve (which include more low income students than the top 8 schools you point to). You really should spend some time learning about them. They do some fantastic things. Watch here to learn about just some of them (including testing score achievements): http://www.tivertonvideos.blogspot.com/2012/04/tiverton-school-committee-meeting-4-26.html
Bob Gaw May 11, 2012 at 03:58 PM
@ksilva: Unfortunately I HAVE read about Tiverton and not propaganda supported by others. See census data below. NOT GOOD, and it does not support your CLAIM that people are moving to Tiverton, the only reason I hear people are moving to Tiverton is because home values in comparison are lower but taxes are higher. Interesting Facts about Tiverton, Rhode Island As of 2011, Tiverton's population is 6,911 people. Since 2000, it has had a population growth of -5.13 percent. -------------------- The median home cost in Tiverton is $274,800. Home appreciation the last year has been -2.67 percent. -------------------- Compared to the rest of the country, Tiverton's cost of living is 30.80% Higher than the U.S. average. -------------------- Tiverton public schools spend $6,751 per student. The average school expenditure in the U.S. is $5,678. There are about 15.3 students per teacher in Tiverton. -------------------- The unemployment rate in Tiverton is 13.20 percent(U.S. avg. is 9.10%). Recent job growth is Negative. Tiverton jobs have Decreased by 0.60 percent.
Just Another Taxpayer May 11, 2012 at 04:43 PM
If the TCC crowd would not lie, informed citizens would not have to provide facts that show them to be the liars they are.
Just Another Taxpayer May 11, 2012 at 04:47 PM
Bob Gaw, can you provide a citation regarding your claim that Tiverton's population decreased by 6,000 people since 2000. While you are at support your regarding job loss in Tiverton. Maybe you use the same data Mr. Coulter uses when he cites 2,000 people are unemployed in Tiverton(Newport Daily Editorial, 5-10-12.)
KSilvia May 11, 2012 at 04:51 PM
@ Bob Gaw. 1. You don't site your source for your population data. Here is mine and it shows Tiverton GREW in population: http://www.dlt.ri.gov/lmi/census/pop/townpop.htm 2. Median home values have gone down in three quarters of the US. 3. Tiverton's cost of living is higher. It is in New England, the entire region is higher. 4. Tiverton spends more per pupil than avg. for US. Agree, see #3 above. Final points on this. You are accting like those of us who support a more responsible budget don't have unemployed neighbors and family and friends. We do. But for $70/year Budget option #2 is just irresponsible . Again, given all the data you just gave, how can you support a budget that increases spending by 4.6%, strips taxpayer savings and makes up revenue. We will have to pay for that. How is that helping anyone's financial situation?
Jim L May 11, 2012 at 06:04 PM
now if the school had 539 out of school suspensions and 0 detentions and 0 in school suspentions that means there were that many teaching hours are not needed true? and most of these are for skipping school and assumeing that these are multiday removals then maybe we can save money there why do we need teacher you don't have kids in front of them, no in school , no detention, you skipped your gone, sound like a good system to me NOT!
Bob Gaw May 11, 2012 at 08:24 PM
Both graphs are from numbers compiled from the US census bureau, this one indicates a decrease in # of households(Reffered to as population) and -3.16 % projected drop in # of households (families) NOT population. Tivertons population is 15,000+ vs 6,000+ households which is confirmed in below numbers, please note tax base is more accurately calculated by working households vs population. Your increase in growth simply reflects increase in population which can also increase costs to taxpayers vs decrease in households which decreases tax base. I understand how you made the error due to the loose definition of population/households. I will not resort to calling anyone a liar for their error. I am a small business owner and I am not guaranteed a check for operating at 50% and if I make too many errors I am quickly out of business, especially with these high taxes and difficult economy. Bottom line fewer households and families are living in Tiverton, ask any realtor they will tell you why -TAXES! 2010 Population Growth and Population Statistics Tiverton, RI Rhode Island United States Total Population 6,807 1,053,493 308,455,134 Population Change Since 1990 -6.25% 4.97% 24.02% Population Change Since 2000 -6.52% 0.49% 9.61% Forecasted Population Change by 2014 -3.16% 0.11% 4.52% http://www.clrsearch.com/Tiverton_Demographics/RI/Population-Growth-and-Population-Statistics
Just Another Taxpayer May 11, 2012 at 09:24 PM
Bob Gaw, I accessed your link it was not the US Census Bureau's website.
RI Teabagger May 22, 2012 at 02:58 AM
See, that's exactly why were were told to vote for #2, the schools were going to raise the taxes 22% and were soon going to be a half-billion dollar operation. Why can't they fix their toilets with that kind of scratch?
Tom May 22, 2012 at 12:14 PM
Ruth - It's not half a billion dollars. It's $50 million NOT billion. I can't help but wonder if you don't know the difference between a million and a billion how are you allowed to vote on any budget?
Ruth Rachel May 23, 2012 at 02:38 AM
Noted. Thank you, Chris, for being part of the reason the Voters for the FTR and Tiverton Citizens for Change were created. Every time I hear you speak or see what you write, it inspires me to do my part for this town, to keep it from what you would do to it. Absolutely! On to good ideas - more wins in athletics too! (Even I know a lot about improving athletically, team and non-team sports! but that's not my focus in this comment...) But even more importantly, we're going to bring cool neighbors who really care about each other, Back! Judging from what you and your cohorts have done in the past, your financial plan would be to double the school budget again in the next 10 years, (that would be about $55,000,000.00 to $56,000,000.00 - that's half of $100 million dollars, whatever it is, it's huge money and unsustainable increases). If that's your track, CC, I'm working creatively to NOT GO THERE! I'm for doing better, with LESS MONEY!!!

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