Letters, Camden Herald

Feb 28, 2013

School budget challenges ahead

The budget making process for SAD 28 and the 5 Town CSD is even more challenging this year than has recently been the case. Why?  In no small measure, because of financial pressures put on all public budgets by "outside forces."

Were the figures now in place in the schools budgeting process to constitute the final budgets (which will not be the case), SAD 28 would require $824,000 (an additional 7.46 percent) more taxpayer dollars to fund the 2013-14 fiscal year budget and the CSD would require an additional $600,000 (an additional 6.42 percent). Those figures total $1.42 million more property tax dollars from taxpayers of the constituent towns. Given the heavy financial pressures on our towns and on taxpayers, these figures must be significantly reduced.

In recent years, some schools expenses have been cut. That the amount of money required from taxpayers to fund previous budgets has continued to increase has had to do in part with reductions in state funding. The governor's proposed state budget would do nothing to alleviate that situation. In fact, it would make it worse. The governor is proposing:

-  That the state funding curtailment put in place in January, that has cost our schools almost $267,000 in this fiscal year, remain in place in the coming fiscal year.

-  That school districts be required to fund 50 percent of what has been the state portion of the teacher retirement plan, which funding shift will cost the CSD $122,000 and SAD 28 $146,000.

-  Finally, The Mid-Coast School of Technology is seeking another $40,000 from the CSD, adding to the already very high cost of this program (on a cost/student basis) to the CSD.

As if the foregoing projected financial pressures on taxpayers were not enough, the state is proposing certain changes in other tax programs that will put increased burden on our towns and in turn on the taxpayers. Those proposed changes include:

-  Eliminating the Homestead Exemption for residents younger than 65 years of age.  According to town officials of, for example Rockport, were this change to be enacted, it would cost Rockport taxpayers $120,826.

-  This change would also reduce the reimbursement to towns for unrealized tax revenues resulting from the Homestead exemption — meaning that towns must find other funds to replace that lost reimbursement.

-  It has been proposed that Revenue Sharing be eliminated.  Were this cut to be enacted it would, for example, cost the town of Rockport $181,606 — which again must be made up from the taxpayers.

Adding to this difficult picture are increases in federal taxes to pay for "Obamacare" and to avoid the "Fiscal Cliff."  Some taxpayers will be unaffected by some of these federal tax law changes, but none will escape them all. And for some, the combination of tax increases will be significant.

Why do I outline the above unpleasant figures? I do so because in one year all these entities seek to, or are now, extracting more money from already, in many cases, strapped taxpayers. As Citizens for Value In Education ("VIE") has now been saying for several years:  The well for additional property tax dollars to increase funding for our schools is dry.  That has never been truer than in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

The schools are working to find ways to reduce the potential property tax increase in 2013-14. School administration and school boards must be "encouraged" in this effort.  A goal of no more than a 2 percent increase in the burden on taxpayers has been set by the CSD. The objective at SAD 28 is something no greater than 3 percent. These goals must be achieved or beaten.

Given the cuts that have been made in the last several years, these goals are unlikely to be achieved simply by further cutting, without sacrificing the quality of educational offerings.  The mantra of VIE has been and remains, "the best possible education at the lowest possible cost."  Achieving that objective in this environment will require innovative approaches to the budgets for the coming year. The schools cannot merely do as they have been doing; change is required to maintain quality and to minimize cost.

For your further information:  These topics will be the subject of the VIE meeting on Thursday, March 7, at 7 p.m. in the select board meeting room of Rockport Opera House.  This meeting will be an excellent opportunity to comment upon and makes suggestions with regard to this school budget process.

Alexander Armentrout for VIE

Citizens for Value In Education

 

Joy and sadness

It has been said that to find joy and sadness in close proximity, just look in your local newspaper. This was proven to me with the Camden Herald’s Feb. 21 edition.

Joy? How better to express it than with Beth Birmingham’s heartwarming page 1 photo of Lexi Smith as she won the Knox County Spelling Bee, beaming in victory.

And sadness? In my years as a newspaperman in California I wrote hundreds of obituaries but few, if any, summoned as many tears to my eyes as that of Ashley Lynn Dare-Pendleton who died of cancer at the too-young age of 20.

We can’t change these reminders of life but in newspapers like the Camden Herald, we can appreciate them. Many thanks.

Joe Brown

Rockport

 

Press used to stand up for rights

It was interesting that the headline for your story on gun control read "Maine`s concealed weapons permit applications rise with nations violence", then in small print under the photo of the co-owner of Johnson`s Sporting Goods and in an interview with her; she says it`s because people are buying guns to get them before they are told they cannot get a gun. Shouldn't the headline have read; Maine people are buying guns and getting concealed weapons permits before the government takes away their Second Amendment right to own them; or more bluntly before the Obama Administration takes away their rights?

Later in your editorial you bring up the Bangor paper caving to pressure from people writing in to object to having concealed weapons carry information released in that paper; you say they claim they (the Bangor paper) wasn't going to publish the list. Really? What else were they going to do with it?

The people who were writing into the Bangor paper to defend their Second Amendment right were using their First Amendment right. Look what happened in New York; burglars started targeting gun owners' homes (if papers are going to publish this information they should be held responsible when homes are broken into or someone is killed). The payback came when private information was released about their editors and employees, they had to hire armed security for protection. The other thing that happened to both them and the Bangor paper was a drop in circulation.

Give that a moments thought. The press used to stand up for citizens' rights against government when it started to get out of control and overbearing; those days are gone; papers are more apt to stand up for the rights of illegal aliens. Writers and journalist like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine (Common Sense), James Madison, John Jay, Alexander Hamilton (the authors of the Federalist Papers), John Adams and other framers of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights; would be ashamed of a press that would let the government infringe on the rights of citizens.

Your editorial accuses the Governor and others of bullying for standing up for our Second Amendment Rights; what was the Bangor Daily doing trying to publish a list of names of people who have a legal right to carry a firearm? Intimidate them. Looks like the Bangor might have been using their First Amendment right to try and do some bullying of its own.

Mike Callahan

Lincolnville


An important question

The Wall Street Journal probably won't listen; I don't subscribe to Forbes or magazines like it. And I have an important suggestion as to how "the press" should talk about big, real money!, Namely amounts larger than 1 million — never to be discussed by any number word over a million! We all know, or think we know, what one of them is! One of those big things we talk about all the time!

So — no more billions! No more trillions! Since no one in Washington knows what those two are (except how to spell them), here's how to do it! Every dollar amount larger than 1 million must be discussed in its correct relationship to that magic number — 1 million.

No need to use the word "billion"; let's call it what is is — 1,000 million! If 1 million is lots of money, 1,000 million certainly is and we'll be talking about something we all understand! A "trillion"? What's that? Just a thousand billion — in our simple 'million' language, a million million!! Who needs it?

Will someone please tell me how to get Washington to do it our way!

Very truly yours,

Hilliard L. Lubin

 

Memories of 58 Chestnut St., Camden
The destruction of the historic family home at 58 Chestnut St. leaves us with only memories now;  one of which,  fortunately,  was written down.  The following poem,  written by Peggy Babcock when she lived in the home,  was published in the Camden Herald at the time the Lok Marina was still in existence on Bay View St. The poem recounts a magical experience Peggy had as she looked out her dining room windows one morning. It can remind us how fleeting the moments of beauty can be,  and how quickly we can lose the things of value that we fail to protect.
"Morning Emerald"
This morning an emerald
glowed over the harbor
beside the telephone pole
next to the A-frame
of the Lok Marina.
It has never been there
on any of the hundreds
of mornings, mid-mornings,
noontimes, afternoons, or evenings
that I have looked out over the harbor
from my windows.
It must have been something
about the decination of the sun
and its altitude at that special moment
that transformed-
in some such way, perhaps,
as sometimes are transformed
into collector's items of great prize
such objects as an old glass insulator-
this bit of molten sand,
hung there who knows how long,
into an emerald.
Sincerely,
Kate Kleber


Camden
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