I am writing about the proposed School Administrative District 51 budget, and as a 38-year resident of Cumberland with two sons who attended public schools.
I agree that a strong school system is vital to all residents, not only for the direct benefit of the students, but also for the ancillary benefit of increased property values. But I believe there is such a thing as over investing.
As an analogy, think about a condo complex. Let’s say that a local condo board decides to add amenities to compete with other local complexes. They add a gym and tennis courts. However, this condo complex has 50 units, compared to 150 units at other complexes. The monthly dues at the small complex become significantly higher than other local dues, making it uncompetitive.
Cumberland, in this example, is the 50-unit complex. Yes, we add value by having all the “amenities” that systems have, but don’t we reduce that value by having higher taxes?
I don’t know how our town’s population compares with that of other local towns, but I do know that we are in essence smaller, in that we do not have the number of businesses that neighboring towns do. The reality is that Cumberland does not have a commercial base to offset the tax burden on our residents.
I thank the Town Council for bringing this issue to the forefront on behalf of its residents, and join them in asking the School Board to review its proposed budget.