The majority of Tiverton residents pay little to no attention to the town’s rating on the bonds that it sells to borrow money. During the course of a busy week, there’s hardly time to get bogged down in such details.
For that reason, some of our town officials (those endorsed by Tiverton 1st and the Tiverton Democratic Town Committee) are using “bond rating” as a magical phrase to pressure you into voting for higher taxes than the town really needs.
Leading the way is new Town Council member David Perry. In a recurring Punch and Judy show, Perry takes the fact that the council’s meetings are televised to spread false information, and if he doesn’t know it’s false, he should.
Perry says the town’s bond rating was “dropped” to AA (excellent) from AAA (the highest). It was not. Tiverton’s last bond rating was an A, so it’s up.
Voters at last year’s financial town referendum (FTR) used some of the town’s excess funds to prevent yet another tax increase, and Perry says that prevented the town from reaching AAA. That’s not true. Even if Tiverton had tens of millions of dollars in its reserves, it could not have reached AAA.
The factor that kept Tiverton from reaching AAA is that its ”financial management practices” are only “adequate.” Rather than investigating why town government isn’t managing its money better, this new town council member wants to attack voters who decided against an unnecessary tax increase, last year.
Louise Durfee is mounting a similar attack from her appointed seat on the Budget Committee. Facing some vocal opposition from elected members of the committee, Durfee acknowledged that there are multiple factors that go into the bond rating, but she insisted that the reserves were “the biggest.” That’s simply not true, and again, if she doesn’t know that, she should.
But the game of Perry and Durfee is a political one, mainly to hide the damage that they and their associates have done in allowing Tiverton’s tax rate to climb significantly higher than any of its neighbors’ (in either Rhode Island or Massachusetts), in allowing payroll and overtime bills to skyrocket, in doubling the town’s total tax levy in about a decade, in allowing embarrassing controversies like the Robert Martin affair, in pushing for massive amounts of debt, and in slowing down expansion of the town’s tax base.