Town of Coventry, RI
Kent County
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents

Section 8.01 Fiscal year.

[Amended 11-7-1978]
The fiscal year of the town shall begin on the first day of July and end on the last day of the following June, commencing with the fiscal year beginning July 1, 1979. Notwithstanding the provisions of Sections 8.53 through 8.55 of this Home Rule Charter, the Town Council is authorized, by resolution passed by the affirmative votes of a majority of the members of the Town Council, to finance the cost of operating the Town of Coventry for the period March 1 through June 30, 1979, through either the issuance of bonds, notes, or otherwise. Bonds may be issued, notes sold, or any other action may be taken by the Town Council for the financing of said period without a vote of the electors.

Section 8.02 Due date of taxes.

Taxes shall be due and payable on a day fixed by the Town Council. The Town Council shall further provide the installments in which taxes may be paid without penalty, the dates on which penalties for nonpayment shall apply, and the rate of such penalties.

Section 8.10 General budget.

[Amended 11-2-2010]
The general budget shall be composed of two sections:
(a) 
The capital improvement program and capital budget; and
(b) 
The operating budget which shall provide a complete financial plan for the budget year. It shall contain three (3) parts:
1. 
The operating budget message is prepared by the Town Manager and gives a general summary of the principal sources of anticipated revenue, with amounts to be raised from each source, and a summary of the principal objects of expenditures, with amounts to be expended for each object. The message shall make clear how expenditures are to be kept within anticipated revenue and shall compare the general estimates for the coming year with the corresponding figures for the past year and the year in progress.
2. 
Detailed estimates of all anticipated revenues applicable to proposed expenditures together with supporting information. The total of such anticipated revenues shall at least equal the total of such proposed expenditures.
3. 
Drafted bills prepared by the Town Manager for appropriating revenues and borrowing if necessary. The bills shall put the details of the operating budget plan into proper legal form ready for action by the Town Council.

Section 8.11 Submission of capital improvement budget.

The Town Council shall direct:
(a) 
All agencies, officials, and departments to submit to the Director of Planning and Development all capital programs or projects requests on or before a date fixed by the Town Council.
(b) 
The Director of Planning and Development shall review all proposals with the agency, department, or official submitting them. The following factors, among others, will be taken into consideration:
1. 
Relationship of the program or project to plans for the development of the town, and
2. 
Relationship to other programs or projects, and
3. 
Consistency with the Town's Comprehensive Community Plan.

Section 8.12 Review.

The recommended capital improvement programs, including the annual capital budget, shall be forwarded to the Town Manager on or before a date fixed by the Town Council.

Section 8.13 Recommendations forwarded.

The Town Manager shall forward to the Town Council with comments the capital improvement program with the included annual capital budget on or before a date fixed by the Town Council.

Section 8.14 Submission of the operating budget to Town Council.

The Town Manager shall submit to the Town Council on or before a date fixed by the Town Council the proposed operating budget and an accompanying message from the Town Manager. The Town Council may request the Town Manager to explain the manager's estimates and recommendations.

Section 8.15 Operating budget format.

(a) 
In parallel columns opposite the several items of anticipated revenues there shall be placed the amount of each such item in the budget of the last completed year, the amounts of such operating items actually received during that year, the amount of each such item in the operating budget of the current fiscal year, the amount actually received to the time of preparing the operating budget, plus receipts for the remainder of the current fiscal year estimated as accurately as may be.
(b) 
In parallel columns opposite the several items of proposed expenditures, there shall be placed the amount of each such item in the operating budget of the last completed fiscal year, the amounts of such items actually expended during the year, the amount of each such item expended to the time of preparing the operating budget, plus expenditures for the remainder of the current fiscal year estimated as accurately as may be.
(c) 
The estimates of receipts for all departments shall be detailed by source. The estimates of the expenditures shall be detailed by departments and the principal subdivisions thereof (offices, boards, commissions, and agencies of the town) and shall show for each unit the requested amount broken down by personal service, contractual service, materials and supplies, fixed charges, and capital outlays.

Section 8.16 Capital improvement budget and operating budget, notice of hearings.

[Amended 11-2-1999]
The Town Council shall publish in one or more newspapers of general circulation in the town the general summary of the operating budget and capital improvement budget and a notice stating:
(a) 
The times and places where copies of the message and budgets are available for inspection by the public.
(b) 
The time and place, not less than two weeks after such publication, for one or more public hearings at which time each item of the proposed budgets shall be considered and any person shall be heard and shall be allowed to question in detail not only the Town Council, the Town Manager, but also any department head including a representative of the School Committee who has submitted any item of expenditure in the preceding fiscal year's budget or on the proposed budgets.
(c) 
After the public hearings the Town Council may amend the operating and capital improvement budgets.
(d) 
The Town Council shall set aside as part of each annual budget an amount equal to no less than fifty (50%) percent of monies remitted to the town by the Tax Administrator of the State of Rhode Island pursuant to the provisions of R.I.G.L. § 44-25-1 et seq. the "Real Estate Conveyance Tax", so called. Said funds shall be used exclusively by the Coventry Land Trust for acquisition and reservation of open space in the Town of Coventry. Said funds shall be used exclusively for capital expenditures and no portion thereof shall be used for administrative expenditures.

Section 8.17 Item Veto by Town Manager.

If the Town Council has increased the amount of any item or items, or has added any item or items not included in the budget as submitted by the Town Manager, the Town Clerk shall forthwith deliver to the Town Manager a copy of that portion of the record setting forth such changes. If the Town Manager disapproves of any such change, the manager shall, within forty-eight (48) hours of his receipt of the record of changes, file with the Town Clerk a message expressing the manager's disapproval and giving the reasons thereof. The Town Council by affirmative vote of four (4) members may over-ride the Town Manager's disapproval. If the Town Manager's disapproval is not over-ridden, the change disapproved shall be eliminated.

Section 8.18 Adoption of operating and capital improvements budgets.

[Amended 11-2-1976; 11-4-2008, effective 1-1-2009; 11-2-2010; 11-4-2014]
After the public hearing, the Town Council shall present the capital improvement and operating budgets to the financial town meeting for adoption by majority vote with or without amendment.
(a) 
Date. The Town Council will convene the financial town meeting on the second Tuesday in June. prior to the start of the next fiscal year.
(b) 
Location. The meeting will be held at the Coventry High School at seven (7) p.m. Eastern Standard local time.
(c) 
Moderator. The Town Council shall appoint a moderator to preside over the financial town meeting. who shall conduct the meeting as follows:
1. 
Moderator.
The Moderator shall preside over the meeting and shall have power to manage and regulate the business of the meeting, in accordance with these rules and in accordance with the provisions of the law as set forth in General Laws of Rhode Island. chapter 45-3 and otherwise.
The Moderator shall be responsible for maintaining good order at the meeting. Any person conducting, himself or herself in a disorderly manner may be ordered to withdraw from the meeting and upon refusal to do so. the town sergeant may be ordered by the Moderator to remove the disorderly person.
The Moderator shall permit all registered voters of Coventry as certified by the Board of Canvassers to attend. The Moderator shall also permit representatives of the news media, the Superintendent of Schools, school principals and legal counsel to attend.
2. 
Right to be heard.
Any voters shall have the right heard and no vote shall be taken until all persons who desire to be heard on the subject of the vote have been heard.
All questions and statements shall be directed through the Moderator and no person shall be heard until recognized by the Moderator.
3. 
Motions.
There shall be a main motion and a second on each question presented prior to any discussion or other motions.
One amendment at a time shall be permitted to any main motion. No further amendment shall be entertained until the pending amendment is disposed of.
If an amendment is adopted, then the main motion is amended and further amendments to the motion as amended shall be in order, or, if there are none, then a vote shall be taken on the main motion as amended.
If an amendment is defeated, then further amendments to the main motion shall be in order, or, if there are none, then a vote shall be taken on the main motion.
4. 
Voting.
Prior to calling for a vote on any question the Moderator shall obtain a count from the canvassers on the number of qualified electors of the town present and will then call for the vote.
The vote shall be taken by a standing vote or ballot as determined by the Moderator, provided that the vote must be taken by ballot if a voter shall call for the same and the call is supported by one-fifth of the voters present. The counting of votes shall be conducted by the Boards of Canvassers under the direction of the Moderator, and the outcome shall be reported to the Moderator.
All questions shall be decided by a majority of the voters present.
(d) 
Amendments. In amending the budgets, the financial town meeting may add or increase programs or amounts and may delete or decrease programs or amounts, except expenditures required by law or for debt service or for estimated cash deficit, provided that no amendment to the operating budget shall increase expenditures to an amount greater than the total of estimate income.
1. 
Proposals to amend shall be in writing, and may address the general budget as a whole, or individual sub-sections thereof.
2. 
An all-day referendum shall be required on any changes to the capitol improvement and operating budget by a sum of one hundred eighty thousand dollars ($180,000) or more, to be adjusted every year by the change in the Consumer Price Index in January preceding the financial town meeting.
(e) 
Failure to adopt. If the town financial meeting fails to adopt the operating budget before the last day of the current fiscal year, the amounts appropriated for current operation for the current fiscal year shall be deemed adopted for the ensuing fiscal year on a month-to-month basis, with all items in it prorated accordingly, until such time as the town financial meeting adopts a budget for the ensuing fiscal year.
(f) 
Filing of adopted budget. A copy of the budget, as finally adopted, shall be filed in the office of the Town Clerk and shall be a public record.

Section 8.19 Amendments after adoption.

(a) 
Supplemental appropriations. If during the fiscal year the Town Manager certifies that there is available for appropriation revenues in excess of those estimated in the budget, a special financial town meeting may make supplemental appropriations for the year up to the amount of such excess.
(b) 
Emergency appropriations. To meet a public emergency affecting life, health, property of [or] the public peace, the Town Council may make emergency appropriations. To the extent that there are no available, unappropriated revenues to meet such appropriations, the Town Council may authorize the issuance of emergency notes, which may be renewed from time-to-time but the emergency notes and renewals in any fiscal year shall be paid not later than the last day of the fiscal year next succeeding that in which the emergency appropriated was made.
(c) 
Reduction of appropriations. If, at any time during the fiscal year, it appears probable to the Town Manager that the revenues available will be insufficient to meet the amount appropriated, the manager shall report to the Town Council without delay, indicating the estimated amount of the deficit, any remedial action taken by the manager and the manager's recommendations as to any other steps to be taken. The Town Council shall then take such further action as it deems necessary to prevent or minimize any deficit and, for that purpose, it may reduce one or more appropriations.
(d) 
Transfer of appropriations. At any time during the fiscal year the Town Manager may transfer part or all of any unencumbered appropriation balance among programs within a department, office, or agency; upon written request by the Town Manager, the Town Council may transfer part or all of any unencumbered appropriation balance from one department, office, or agency to another.
(e) 
Limitations: Effective date. No appropriation for debt service may be reduced or transferred; no appropriation may be reduced below any amount required by law to be appropriated or by more than the amount of the unencumbered balance thereof. The supplemental and emergency appropriations and reduction or transfer of appropriations authorized by this section may be made effective immediately upon adoption.
(f) 
Limitations: Approval by the Electors. Nothing in this section shall prevent the making of contracts or spending of money for capital improvement projects or other projects, provided that any payments from the Town's general funds or property taxes must be approved annually by the electors at an annual or special financial town meeting. This section shall not apply to projects which have been approved by the electors in accordance with Section 8.55 of this Charter.
[Amended 11-8-2016]

Section 8.20 Lapse of appropriations.

Every appropriation, except an appropriation for a capital expenditure, shall lapse at the close of the fiscal year to the extent that it has not been expended or encumbered. An appropriation for a capital expenditure shall continue in force until the purpose for which it was made has been accomplished or abandoned. The purpose of any such appropriation shall be deemed abandoned if three (3) years pass without any disbursement from or encumbrance of the appropriation.

Section 8.21 Work programs and allotment.

At such time as the Town Manager shall specify, each department, office, or agency shall submit work programs for the ensuing fiscal year showing the requested allotments of its appropriation by periods within the year. The Town Manager shall review and authorize such allotments with or without revision, as early as possible in the fiscal year. The manager may revise such allotments during the year if the manager deems it desirable and shall revise them to accord with any supplemental, emergency, reduced, or transferred appropriations.

Section 8.22 Payments and obligations prohibited.

No payment shall be made, or obligation incurred, against any allotment or appropriation except in accordance with appropriations duly made and unless the Town Manager or the manager's designee first certifies that there is a sufficient unencumbered balance in such allotment or appropriation, and that sufficient funds therefrom are or will be available to cover the claim or meet the obligation when it becomes due and payable. Any authorization of payment or incurring of obligation in violation of the provisions of this Charter shall be void and any payments so made illegal. Such action shall be cause for removal of any officer who knowingly authorized or made such payment or incurred such obligation, and the officer shall also be liable to the town for any amount so paid. However, except where prohibited by law, nothing in this Charter shall be construed (1) to prevent the making or authorizing of payments or making of contracts for capital improvements, to be financed wholly or partly by the issuance of bonds, or (2) to prevent the making of any contract or lease providing for payments beyond the end of the fiscal year, provided that such action is made or approved by the Town Council.

Section 8.30 Levy and assessment of taxes.

When action on the general budget has become final, the town financial meeting shall adopt, and the Town Council shall cause to be delivered to the tax assessor, a resolution levying and ordering the assessment and collection of a tax on ratable real estate and tangible personal property at such rate to be fixed by the tax assessor, as provided by law, as will, together with the assessment and collection of a tax on ratable intangible property belonging to the inhabitants of the town, at rates established in accordance with law, amount in the aggregate to a minimum and a maximum to be set forth in the resolution. The minimum shall be equal to the receipts from taxes on property as estimated in the operating budget as adopted, and the maximum shall be as set by the town financial meeting.
It shall be the duty of the assessor to prepare a roll including all property subject to town taxes and deliver the same to the Town Treasurer on or before a date fixed by the Town Council.

Section 8.40 Requisition for purchases.

All purchases made and contracts executed on behalf of the town shall be pursuant to a written requisition from the head of the department, office, or agency whose appropriation will be charged. No contract or order shall be issued or payment made to any vendor, unless and until the Director of Finance shall certify that there is to the credit of such department, office or agency a sufficient unencumbered appropriation balance to pay for the supplies, material, equipment, or contractual services for which the contract or order is to be issued.

Section 8.50 Borrowing; tax anticipation notes.

If necessary, the town financial meeting shall, by resolution, authorize the issuance of any notes which lawfully may be issued by the town in anticipation of taxes to the extent permitted by law.

Section 8.51 Revenue anticipation notes.

In any fiscal year, in anticipation of the collection of receipt of revenues other than the property tax of that fiscal year, the town financial meeting may, by resolution, authorize the borrowing of money by the issuance of negotiable notes of the town, each of which shall be designated "special revenue note for the year. . . ." (stating the fiscal year.) Such notes may be renewed, but all such notes, together with the renewals, shall mature and be paid not later than the end of the fiscal year immediately following the fiscal year in which the original notes shall have been issued.

Section 8.52 Sale of notes.

All notes issued pursuant to the foregoing sections may be sold at not less than par and accrued interest, at private sale, without prior advertisement, by the Director of Finance.

Section 8.53 Bonds.

The town may borrow money by issuing its negotiable bonds and its negotiable notes in anticipation of bonds, pledging the credit and property of the town to finance any capital project which it may lawfully construct or acquire.

Section 8.54 Capital project bonds.

The Town Council may, by resolution passed by the affirmative votes of a majority of the members of the Town Council, appropriate a sum of money for a capital project described in general terms in the resolution and authorize the issuance of bonds to finance such project.

Section 8.55 Bond referendum.

No bonds shall be issued pledging the credit of the town unless submitted to the vote of the electors, at either a general or a special election, and unless approved by a majority of the electors voting upon the question.

Section 8.56 Pledge of credit.

The faith and credit of the town is hereby pledged for the payment of the principal and interest on all bonds and notes of the town hereafter issued pursuant to this Charter, whether or not such pledge be stated in the bonds or notes, or in the resolution authorizing their issuance. The town shall levy ad valorem taxes upon all the taxable property within the town for the payment of such bonds and notes, and interest thereon, without limitation of rate or amount, subject to the laws of the state.

Section 8.57 Bond anticipation notes.

In anticipation of the issuance of bonds, the Town Council may, by resolution, authorize the issuance of negotiable notes. Each such note shall be designated "Bond Anticipation Note" and, including renewals, shall mature and be paid within one (1) year after the date of issuance of the original note or such longer period as may be permitted by law. Such bond anticipation notes may be sold by the Director of Finance at private sale, without previous public offering.

Section 8.58 Unexpended bond proceeds.

Any unexpended and unencumbered balance in a fund created by an issue of bonds, the whole or any part of which bond issue is outstanding and unpaid, shall, when such balance is no longer needed for the purpose for which such fund was created, be employed solely for the payment of said bonds and the interest thereon.

Section 8.59 Other provisions.

The Town Council, by resolution or by ordinance, may prescribe other and further requirements to be complied with in connection with the borrowing of money and the issuance of bonds, notes, or other evidence of indebtedness.