Robishaw calls for effort to provide tax relief

By Stephen Betts | Sep 30, 2019

Rockland — Donald Robishaw Jr. said the high tax rate is the greatest challenge facing Rockland.

Robishaw is one of four candidates seeking two City Council seats in the Nov. 5 election.

"Many elderly and even younger people on fixed incomes are having trouble paying their taxes as all of their other bills continue to increase, but their wages are not," Robishaw said.

"I believe the council has to pressure Augusta to change the funding formula for state aid," Robishaw said.

Robishaw said his heritage comes from a long line of public service to the city. "I started shortly after graduating Rockland District High School, to present, nearly 43 years later. I want to continue my service to this city, where I was born, worked and care about very deeply," Robishaw said.

He said he would like to see cruise ship passengers spend more time in Rockland spending money, instead of boarding buses and heading out of the city. "We need to do a better job marketing the excellent opportunities and sites to increase spending in the city," he said.

The candidate said he has mixed feelings on short-term rentals. "I believe if someone owns, pays taxes they should be able to do what they want to do with their property. With that being said, they need to be on the same playing field as long-term rentals. I want to hear more from both sides before I would make a final decision. Back to short-term rentals,  the city must also ensure that short-term rentals are safe for anyone who comes to our city on vacation," he said.

Robishaw said he is still studying the issue of zoning and lot sizes. He said there seems to be a tone at City Council meetings that changes to residential zoning occur without going through the process spelled out in city ordinances.

"People who bought their homes, purchased them in that zone for protection. The city has taxed them for that zone. Is the city willing to reduce some of the property taxes if they change, reduce the requirement of a particular zone?" he said. Robishaw said if a property owner wants to increase the footprint, height, or even upgrade the inside of their property, it should be addressed on a case-by-case basis.

When asked about the proposed Yachting Solutions Inc. marina expansion, the candidate said he encourages the expansion of a business unless it intrudes on another business. He questioned whether the expansion would interfere with a cruise ship entering the space near the expansion.

"I certainly would not want two very large vessels colliding, especially if they have passengers." he said.

Robishaw said he believes marijuana has a medical purpose, such as helping with certain medical conditions, like cancer and the side-effects of treatment. But he pointed out that voters said no in a non-binding referendum on adult recreational marijuana sales downtown. "I feel that Main Street is not the best place for sales. The reason being we have people of all ages walking Main Street, including young children," he said. "I do not want Rockland to turn into other municipalities who have seen an increase of transients and homelessness."

The candidate said he would want to know what would happen to the existing City Hall property before considering a move to the McLain School for municipal offices. He also said he would want renovation costs to the school building. He said McLain has limited parking.

"I am not in favor of the city taking out huge bonds and being paid for with tax increases. I would rather see the building with limited parking go on the tax rolls," he said.

Roads and other improvements should be included in the budget and pay as we go, Robishaw said.

He said he was not in favor of a large bond where there are interest payments. "The citizens I have talked with are having great difficulty paying their taxes as well as other necessities. I believe that the manager and public service personnel could develop a plan that is five-year, 10-year, and beyond. The money for these projects should not be spent on other projects," he said.

The city should work with state, local and other organizations to improve treatment centers and other alternatives to address the drug addiction problem in the community, the veteran public safety official said.

Robishaw served on the Regional School Unit 13 Board from 2011 to 2016. He served on the Rockland Fire Department from 1978, when he was a call division member, becoming a full-time member in 1980, until he retired from the full-time staff in 2004. The Melrose Circle South resident remains a captain and safety officer in the call division. He has also been involved in youth sports as a coach.

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