Letter: Brunswick needs path to financial sustainability

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I am alarmed that just 261 Brunswick voters – the margin in last week’s referendum for a new elementary school – have determined that our property taxes may increase by 4 percent each year, over and above the usual annual increases for school and town expenses. Only about 3,800 folks voted – about a fifth of eligible voters. So the “majority” voting for 20 years of constantly rising property taxes was a small group.

One unintended result may be that people living on average or fixed incomes may find ourselves priced out of town. How will steeply rising property taxes attract and retain families with children to fill the new school? How will we remain a community of diversity and inclusion? How will we reconcile the wishes of a small group of voters with the economic challenges that face us all? Remember, we need to address other costs, too, such as repairing or replacing our downtown fire station and closing our landfill.

I urge the School Board, Town Council and town officials to begin an ongoing dialogue with residents about how we might meet the fiscal challenges that lie ahead. How might we fund a new $28 million school without paying an additional $12 million in bond financing fees? What are the costs and options for the fire station and the landfill?

I value living in this wonderful place, try to contribute to it, and hope to continue to afford to stay here. I hear many others voicing the same refrain. Let’s work to figure out a financially sustainable path.

Sue Stableford

  • EdBeem

    The margin was not just 261 votes. Everyone who did not vote essentially voted Yes on the school. They had the chance to vote down the new school and the school budget and they did not. I conclude they were satisfied that the school was needed and that the budget was fair. That’s the way democracy works.

  • poppypapa

    I guess, Eddie, that your logic means that LePage was elected both times by overwhelming landslide majorities. And Trump as well.

    “Essentially,” that is.

  • Chew H Bird

    I am please that nearly three times the usual amount of voters showed up to vote. I am not pleased the actual amount of the school budget was on a piece of paper taped to the wall of the voting booth instead of being on the ballot where everyone looks. I mentioned this to several other voters and they were not aware of the amount of money being voted on and did not know it was taped up in the voting booth.

    If we follow the concept of the seemingly desired RCV people, we should have a required percentage of voters in order to pass anything into law. While I disagree with RCV for a variety of reasons, the concept of having a minimum turnout of 25% of the population for the unpopular June vote might actually be a good thing?