Deserving credit in Union
A few years ago when John Gibbons was running for selectman in Union, he told a VillageSoup reporter he favored better communication between the board and the public.
He has certainly kept his word on that one. Over the past few years, it has been our experience that Gibbons is always easy to reach by his cell phone and always returns phone calls from the press to help answer questions for stories about the town of Union.
He has been utterly transparent in his dealings and promoted the same in all of the workings of the town's government.
Not only would he answer questions if you happened to catch him. If he didn't know the answer, he would call around, do research and review his materials and notes to find it and get back to the newspaper.
In addition, reporters are never made to feel like skunks at the garden party when they show up to town meetings and selectmen's meetings in Union.
In fact, the only trouble a journalist ever had with John was getting him off the phone.
On Monday, June 18, at the annual town meeting, John was honored with a plaque for his six years of service to the community on the Board of Selectmen. He has also served on other town boards and committees.
We have enjoyed working with Gibbons and feel his recognition is well-deserved. We hope other town officials all over Knox County will always follow his lead.
Voting in Waldoboro
What’s in each budget article? And are town officials trying to reduce the property tax burden?
Those are two key questions on the minds of Waldoboro voters when they go to the polls to make the town’s annual decisions by secret ballot referendum votes.
When residents vote on whether to spend $107,282 for Office of the Town Manager, they want to know who is getting all that money. Does the town manager make a six-figure salary? No, we are told in budget meetings and public hearings; half of the administrative assistant’s position is included in that line, along with costs for mailing, printing, etc.
On the question of trimming this budget, the town manager and selectmen have described several ways the town is seeking efficiencies in the coming year: job duties are shifted, new responsibilities are accepted, and employee hours are reduced where possible.
Several articles did fail on June 12, most notably for the finance department and whether to exceed the property-tax cap.
Other articles that failed in recent years passed in 2012, such as that Office of the Town Manager article in 2010 and 2011 and the police department's budget in 2011.
We think voters are starting to get the answers they want to those two key questions. Residents may still have valid reasons to vote no on budget articles. We hope they can exercise that right with the information they need to make an informed vote.
Last week’s election is not the end to the concerns of many Waldoboro citizens. But maybe it's a beginning. There is progress with the A.D. Gray building, which could cut expenses in future budgets. Newly elected selectmen talk about expanding economic opportunity. And the town manager can no longer be called “new,” but he is leading the community in a new direction.
Should you care about the super tank?
Our sister publication, The Republican Journal has been writing about the proposed 22.7-million-gallon liquefied petroleum gas tank.
It will be constructed at Mack Point if the Colorado-based DCP Midstream gains approval from the Searsport Planning Board.
A few area towns including Camden and Islesboro have gotten involved in the conversation about this proposal, and we think all of the residents of the Midcoast, from Searsport to south of Rockland have a stake in this thing.
On the one hand, in a tough economy, it's hard to discourage business, and the energy business could bring terrific economic opportunities. However, the sheer scale of this thing gives us pause. What happens if there is a disaster either with the ships coming and going from this tank or with the facility itself? Can local fire departments and Hazmat teams really deal with a problem on that scale?
If this should lead to environmental problems, Penobscot Bay itself, our greatest resource could be impacted. The fisheries are likely worth more to protect than this business could bring in.
Are locals really the ones who will benefit from this?
The company itself doesn't seem to be answering these questions.
In addition, we don't really believe people come to Maine, either to live or to visit, because they want to look at 22.7-million-gallon gas tanks. This is a big gamble for the state of Maine and it seems to us that Searsport needs all the help it can get. Make sure your voice is heard on this issue before this gets pushed through.