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Letter: Tiverton Budget Committee Keeps Defying The Will Of The Voter

Dave Nelson, Tiverton town councilor and president of Tiverton Citizens for Change, writes a letter to the editor about the upcoming financial town referendum.

To the Editor:

Pressing on from the , Tiverton is fast approaching its , a statement both satisfying and uncertain, as many have begun asking: “what will the voters say?” Tiverton Citizens for Change believes that now freed from the commotion and intimidation of the FTM, Tiverton voters will flock to the polls to express their frustration over endlessly rising property tax bills even as our homes are worth less, and will come together to support a responsible and affordable budget.

TCC has submitted a FTR voter petition which proposes a property tax levy increase of 1.1 percent. This would be the lowest levy increase in Tiverton’s modern history, and it reflects a determination to slow the endless upward spiral of tax increases our government has placed on its citizens. Our recommendation is based on the Town Council budget, requested by the town administrator, while adding an ambulance. An equitable dollar amount (about $400K) goes to the schools. Spending will rise more than we see as ideal, but this increase is offset by leveraging last year's budget surplus. No budgets are perfect. Democracy is not perfect. The best we can hope for is a fact-based discussion on the merits of the various budgets put before the voting public and trust in their judgment and the integrity of the process.

While past Budget Committees (BC) have occasionally shown restraint, little of it is apparent this year when they rubber-stamped the school budget, dollar for dollar, of just under one million dollars. This is in addition to the $600,000 the schools will now receive as a result of their aggressive litigation against the taxpayers of Tiverton, an unfunded mandate never approved by voters as a local levy. Emboldened by the undying belief that big government is the answer to all that ails us, the BC and schools have doubled down on their demands. Like many around us, we would like to see these annual confrontations abate, and go back to our bucolic lives in Tiverton’s unique place in the world. To find that peace, all our government officials must stop wearing blinders to the suffering of those around us and recall that they work for the people, and not the other way around.

This year, the BC threw out the council’s budget, and ventured into politics and policy beyond its Town Charter mission. Their effort to redirect the $168,000 annual contribution to the restricted landfill closure account is in direct defiance of the landfill committee’s recommendation and possibly in violation of a DEM order. In several other areas, it ignores the recommendations of the council, administrator, town solicitor, and the library, to name just a few.   

Taxpayers continue to be battered with demands for more funding, as if some in our government have become deaf to the plight of those it has sworn to serve. Now, we shall see if those weary from governments’ endless demands will vote for business-as-usual budgets in the privacy of the FTR’s voting booth after weeks of advance warning and study. The specifics of all plans will be closely examined in the next few weeks, and you will decide what you think is right. Voting takes place on May 15.

After seeing overwhelming support for the FTR, one might expect all our elected officials to support this grassroots support for reform, and reverse the years of abuse our citizens have endured. Not so. BC Chairman Chris Cotta continues to defy the expressed will of the voter, resisting our FTR every step of the way, recently traveling to Providence to testify against its ratification by the State General Assembly after voters passed it by a 2-to-1 majority. Mr. Cotta’s leadership is simply out of touch with the average Tiverton taxpayer, while he actively resists taxpayer friendly budget process reforms.

We at TCC promise to support a fact-based community-wide discussion on our budget priorities. We also promise that we will fight efforts to continue business as usual by the crowd to who led us here in the first place.

David Nelson
Tiverton Town Councilor
President Tiverton Citizens for Change

Just Another Taxpayer April 21, 2012 at 12:57 PM
A new day same question. Mr. Nelson why are you reducing the School Committee's requested budget amount by over 500,000? Mr. Nelson, residents are entitled to an answer!
Gloria Crist April 21, 2012 at 01:29 PM
This is simply not true. Not one word of it. You may fiddle with your numbers to support your ego driven budget-and increase spending thinking no one will notice-but you are simply not being truthful.
tiverton teacher April 21, 2012 at 01:59 PM
To Jim L. and others who may wonder. Just to be clear, Teacher have not had a raise in four /five years. The middle and high school teachers are "not the top dog" as we do as we are told by state mandates, the curriculum coordinator, and our Superintendant. We are professional who have a four (and usually much more) years at some college. Our education costs more then what we earn, our supplies for the schools have been cut so we do not have new books,we photocopy everything or we buy the material ourselves. Technology? What technology? In 2014 the state will mandate that testing be done on computers by all students. We have 50/60 computers that are all refurbished and not up to date. So before everyone thinks the money goes to the teachers you are very wrong. The schools need repairs, cost of materials,and heating goes up. It is the up- keep of the middle and high school that require an increase not the teachers.
Gerry Jones April 28, 2012 at 01:09 AM
lord nelson, the only person defying the will of the voters is YOU. You want to give you buddy, defelice, the only one who has ABSOLUTELY no experience with ANYTHING a free shot at our industrial park and now you want to defy the ELECTED budget committee. How far does your arrogance go? We, your constituents, want to know.
oldandtired October 17, 2012 at 04:40 PM
A failure of leadership Mr. Nelson? I consider the TCC a huge failure. Two years ago you promised as the President of the TCC in a letter to all the papers and in emails forwarded around town the following: “TCC has stated numerous times, and do so again now, that we support flat spending and expanding the tax base to relieve the burden on residential property owners. TCC endorses those candidates who are committed to holding down spending and taxes. We also want to change the openly hostile attitude toward economic development in town by welcoming community minded business men and women to join us in the effort.” The TCC was elected to control spending and yet approved the largest municipal increase to the budget in over three years and did it TWO YEARS IN A ROW. Not prior councils, you. Yes, the tax rate increase was the lowest in a decade but TCC did nothing to achieve that, that was the budget committee and the people. As far as being business friendly, just look to Four Corners and the Oyster Farm (NIMBY). You all bitch and cry about the "tax and spenders" and you ignore the ridiculous budgets proposed by this group, including one to cover out of control spending of over 4.3%. The past two years is not how a town should be run. We need people in town that will control spending and show leadership. I agree that some past Council members aren’t the answer, but neither is this group. I will never forget all the false promises and flip flopped positions.

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