Before the Town Council, Town Solicitor, Town Clerk, and Board of Canvassers conspired to block all four alternate budget petitions from the financial town referendum (FTR) ballot and leave the town’s big tax increase as the only option, I pointed out that the town could be swimming in up to $13 million in extra money not contemplated in the budget, starting with this:
As of the beginning of this month, $961,198 was already in that account, but that doesn’t include the big final payment for the year, so the total will likely hit around $1.4 million. Meanwhile, the Town Council and administrator are quietly talking with the state without letting residents know what’s going on, and there’s reason to believe that another $1.3 million will be contributed this year.
Add that together, and the estimate for casino money to kick off this fiscal year was $2.7 million. According to the latest report from Town Treasurer Denise Saurette, that was an understatement. The “accumulated gaming” fund stands at $3,015,527. Of that, $100,000 was revenue from sports gambling, which was one small sliver of revenue that the council hadn’t sucked up for its slush fund but has now decided to seize control of.
Largely to credit for that result is a $1,613,474 payment from the state on July 16, according to the state’s transparency portal.
Another wave of cash the town has received or will receive during this year comes via COVID relief of one sort or another, which I estimated at $4,618,304 on the town side and $1,700,000 on the school side. The lines aren’t always clear, but so far, the state’s COVID transparency tool shows town and schools having received $1,033,264.
In total, then, the town already has $4,048,791 in funds it didn’t bother to disclose during the budget process.
As inflation eats away at your limited income, keep in mind that the members of the Town Council and the rest of town government refused to help you with any tax relief and, in fact, changed the rules in the middle of the FTR process to block alternatives and force you to pay Tiverton’s biggest tax increase in more than a decade.
Here are the members of the council who have supported this money grab:
- President Denise deMedeiros
- Vice President Michael Burk (who is also the leader of the Democratic Town Committee)
- Jay P. Edwards
- Deborah Janick
- Joseph Perry
- William Vieira