Rockland Council gives initial OK to $10 million road borrowing package

By Stephen Betts | Aug 12, 2019
Photo by: Stephen Betts Rockland voters may be asked in November to borrow $10 million for road and storm water separation projects.

Rockland — The Rockland City Council gave initial approval Monday night, Aug. 12, to seeking voter approval in November to borrow up to $10 million for road and storm water diversion work.

The vote was 5-0. A formal public hearing and final vote will be held Sept. 9. If approved then, the article will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

City Manager Tom Luttrell said the Public Services Department is still working on the list of roads that need work, as well as the estimated cost of each of them. He said he should be able to get the information to the council later this week.

Luttrell said the annual cost of repaying a $10 million bond over 10 years at 2 percent interest would be slightly more than $1 million annually.

Councilor Amelia Magjik said the city has an enormous amount of catching up to do with its roads.

Councilor Ed Glaser said he would like to see the information that public services is developing before he would decide whether to support the measure at the final vote in September.

Outgoing Public Services Director David St. Laurent said 18 roads were paved this year.

Those roads were paved through a $2.7 million bond referendum approved by city residents in November 2016. The ballot item was backed 2,575 to 845 by Rockland residents. The City Council, however, held off borrowing the money until last year to allow existing bonds to be paid off.

Comments (17)
Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 14, 2019 08:42

Also by the way any councilor that reads these comments... please note just how many people comment on high property taxes.

Hint, Hint

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 14, 2019 08:36

Vallie please note my earlier comment that I generally make every year for the past ten years and that is take the million dollars that the city brings in annually from excise tax to create a fund to fix the roads each year.  You could go a long way to lowering taxes if you could convince the council to just stop spending so much money foolishly.  If you borrow 10 million principle and 10 million interest you are in effect borrowing 20 million. Also according to my plan of creating additional revenue instead of spending all the council's time on walking trails, smoking bans and liquor sales in the park.

Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Aug 13, 2019 15:44

Not a Rockland resident but have paid very large property taxes in the past.  The reason this keeps coming back to haunt taxpayers is that you borrow money for 10 years to repair roads and the repair does not last 10 years.  That is a cycle that is certain to cause more and more trouble down the "road".

Posted by: Dale E. Landrith Sr. | Aug 13, 2019 15:44

Not a Rockland resident but have paid very large property taxes in the past.  The reason this keeps coming back to haunt taxpayers is that you borrow money for 10 years to repair roads and the repair does not last 10 years.  That is a cycle that is certain to cause more and more trouble down the "road".

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 13, 2019 11:29

The people have spoken; the breaking point has come and whether it is for 1 million or 10 it will not pass.


Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Aug 13, 2019 11:24

Mr. Carroll, you would be incorrect. Council asked for updated information on the roads that are in bad shape and need to be done now versus others that we can do over time. I do not expect a bond of $10 million, but one that is much less. One possible plan, is to do a 10 year bond on those roads in severe shape and then use the increased Municipal revenue sharing, expected next year, to create a $200-300,000 annual budget for the the others going forward.

Rockland keeps delaying projects to try and keep property taxes low, This year Rockland's city budget was a 1.7% increase or $17/year added to property taxes. Contrast this with $290 dollars added to property taxes for RSU 13's 13% budget increase. It is not sustainable, Rockland has to plan for the future, take care of infrastructure, but we need the State and RSU 13 to be partners in this.

Valli Geiger

Rockland City Councilor

Posted by: Nicole Jeanette Boutin | Aug 13, 2019 10:32

Hear that?..... That's the sound of people leaving Rockland......

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 13, 2019 07:50

It is quite apparent at this point that any effort to convince the council that borrowing another 10 million is folly.  A 5-0 vote indicates they are completely in agreement on this.  We are in effect adding a million dollars each year to the budget if this measure passes in November.  As long as the council is writing checks out of someone else's account there is little interest in saving money.  I may need a new house, but will choose to fix the roof for now.

Posted by: Doug Curtis Jr. | Aug 12, 2019 09:35


You are correct. Rockland has reached a breaking point and the old ways of doing business are not working. We all understand that our roads are in tough shape. It's called planning. I hope Tom can bring specific information tonight so everyone can be well informed and every dollar is carefully scrutinized. This figure may not be well refined. There is no rush at this point. We also have another ballot next June.

Posted by: Deborah Clarisse Morrison | Aug 11, 2019 07:52

Hard to wrap my brain around 10 Million...That's 10 Million with a "M".  Someone, somewhere is not doing their job when you have to ask for a $10,000,000 bond.  Paved roads are not a mystery and you can figure almost to the month when they will need repair.  This isn't rocket science...yet for as long as I have lived here (60 years) the paving always comes as a "surprise".  Remember, it really isn't 10 MILLION....there's interest too.   Do the math and divide the $10,000,000 by the true tax payers, not just who lives here - but by the property owners....OUCH!  When I bought our home in 1984, our taxes were $1,200 a year - now they're $6,500.  Salaries haven't changed to keep pace and I wonder how young adults are ever going to live here.  I guess I'm just getting old, feeling sad local CAN'T stay here.

Posted by: Valli Genevieve Geiger | Aug 10, 2019 12:06

Dear Mr. Feyler, I wish that were true, we are the county seat but most of the roads in Rockland are Rockland's responsibility, the state has decreased their share of providing for our larger roads. As you may remember, they refused to repair and repave Old County Road, a state road, and Rockland ended up borrowing a million dollars to do it. The county jail, the county court house pay no property taxes, but it is true that the costs of the courthouse and jail and Sheriff's department are shared by all towns in Knox County. But the cost is based on population, so even though Rockland has its own police department, we pay the largest share of the county costs.

Valli Geiger

Posted by: Jay Feyler | Aug 10, 2019 10:24

Kendall's statement is a bit misleading as Rockland is the county seat, however services provided by the county are paid by all residents of Knox County and not just Rockland taxpayers.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 10, 2019 09:15

Gerald this is the first I have heard of this Tier one and Two state funding for service centers.  I am curious why either our local council or local state representatives are not  talking about this and working to restore these funds. ?

Posted by: Gerald A Weinand | Aug 09, 2019 15:57



As you may know, like other service centers, Rockland relieves Tier II funding from the State to help with the associated costs and loss of revenue from non-taxable property. And as you will recall, former governor LePage and the Republican controlled Legislature slashed the amounts towns received in both Tier I And Tier II funding, placing the burden on local taxpayers.

Posted by: Stephen K Carroll | Aug 09, 2019 12:08

Each year Rockland takes in over a million dollars from excise tax receipts.  This was origionally intended to provide needed funding for the city's annual road repair.  If the city would simply set up a dedicated account each year for road repair the funds would be available and not need to be borrowed.  Anyone who runs a business understands this basic concept.  Unfortunately there are few members of council that know anything about running a business.  They think they can spend whatever they wish and this is basically what has been happening.  Let's start looking for ways to increase revenues not ways to spend more money.

Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Aug 09, 2019 10:55

This article is scarce on information as to how such a large debt will be repaid. Likely by property owners, whose taxes keep rising while the city council keeps saying we have a housing crisis. The crisis is property taxes, which keep mounting every year with no helpful ideas from the council. Rockland is the county seat which provides lots of services to surrounding towns, which pay nothing for these services. That is one avenue the council could amend. Do they have any helpful ideas? Haven't heard of any yet.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 09, 2019 09:27

This article disappeared very quickly.  Rocklanders had better be prepared to vote this DOWN.   Hoping there will be a concerted effort to have this defeated.  Road repair needs to get back on the annual budget as it used to be; just like equipment replacement.

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