Like most voters in South Portland, I agree that the high school needs to be renovated. However, the proposed plan is not a renovation; it is a wasteful, financially irresponsible 50 percent expansion. The project includes 170,129 square feet of new construction and a net increase of 104,364 square feet. At 307,192 square feet, the facility will be 300 square feet per student at its projected peak enrollment, or more than 50 percent greater than the less-than 200 square feet per student average for high schools built in Maine over the past 10 years.
Don’t be confused by the $41.5 million bond amount. The total cost with interest is $70 million, or $4,000 on a home assessed for $200,000. The project includes at least $27 million in costs that are not required to fix 100 percent of the high school accreditation issues, like spending $6.7 million to replace the cafeteria built in 1997.
South Portland property taxes are currently 24 percent higher than Scarborough and will increase to 33 percent higher if this project is approved. For a home assessed at $200,000, South Portland property taxes will be $832 per year greater than Scarborough or $16,640 more over the proposed 20-year bond issue. This high tax rate will also adversely impact business development, which will increase the taxes paid by homeowners. The claim that real estate values will decrease if this plan is voted down is false; actually values will decrease if this wasteful expansion project is approved.
Albert A. DiMillo Jr.