Should Rockland waive $25,000 fee?

By Stephen Betts | Aug 08, 2017

The Rockland City Council will wait until September to decide whether to waive a $25,285 building permit fee for the regional technical school.

Mid-Coast School of Technology Director Elizabeth Fisher met with Rockland city councilors at their Aug. 7 meeting to formally make the request.

In a June 28 letter to the council, Fisher pointed out that Rockland voters supported the new school in a bond referendum. She said school officials want to use every dollar of the $25 million bond approved by voters for the school.

"Following in the footsteps of other taxpayer-funded Maine schools, we wish to partner with our city and use our bonded project funds for the school," Fisher said.

"In recognition of your partnership, if you agree to waive the fee, we would place your name alongside other local industry partners who are financially helping to make our new school the best for our communities," she said.

Rockland councilors, however, were reluctant Aug. 7 to place the waiver request on the Aug. 14 agenda.

Councilor Adam Ackor pointed out that Rockland alone was being asked to waive fees for a school serving 21 towns.

Councilor Ed Glaser agreed, saying Rockland was waiving fees for Camden and other communities. He said Rockland was taking a double hit, because the valuable waterfront property where the school is located is not generating any property taxes for the city.

Glaser also said the city incurs direct costs, with its code enforcement office having to inspect the plans and project.

The two-story 90,000-square-foot complex should be ready for students in September 2019.

The cost of the permit is based on the size of the building.

Voters from Waldoboro to Islesboro approved by a more than two-to-one margin in November borrowing of up to $25 million for a new technology center. Every community voted for the project.

The main contributors to the project will be the Five-Town Community School District, based in Camden; SAD 40, based in Waldoboro; and RSU 13, based in Rockland.

The council asked the director to return next month with a School Board member to better explain the need for the waiver.

Comments (6)
Posted by: Kendall Merriam | Aug 15, 2017 10:49

Here we go again...council has an opportunity for some income for the city coffers and they dither...Why should Rockland miss out on this income for the city? Council has put forward little to no ideas for increasing revenue aside from increasing residents property taxes.



Posted by: Sandra Schramm | Aug 09, 2017 22:14

I voted for this project as I believe in the educational opportunities this school provides and I have had the pleasure of knowing many students who have gone on to higher education because of the opportunities that this school system provides. It is vital to a well rounded education system that fits the needs of all students. I do believe that it was the right decision to leave the campus where it was.

 

However, this is where I draw the line. Rockland would not only be waiving the permit fee for all the communities that takes advantage of this vital education opportunity but it has lost the taxable income that this property might have provided. I support that tax loss but not the entire share of the permitting fee. I can see sharing the fee with all the other towns if the fees are proportioned within the district and other towns using this facility that are not in the district. Either separate the fee from the construction cost and each town pay their fair share to Rockland for the permits or the permit fee comes out of the construction funding which I believe has Rockland paying the largest proportion. Rockland residents in no way should donate/waive the permit fee. Let's get these students into the new school without more wrangling.

 



Posted by: Amy Files | Aug 09, 2017 18:47

Not sure what's right to do but in the scheme of things $25K is a fraction of the construction budget -- so I am a little surprised they are requesting it. On the other hand, that kind of money can go pretty far for Rockland taxpayers -- for a staff salary or small project. Regarding comments about the school's location -- I think it's important that the public, kids included, maintain a connection to the water and coast and so am happy to see the school maintain its location. The waterfront shouldn't be reserved solely for rich people.



Posted by: David E Myslabodski | Aug 08, 2017 17:30

GROUND HOG DAY, AGAIN!

 

Do members of city council understand how to read a balance sheet?

 

Of course they do, So what is their justification for going gung-ho with expenses while cutting the income?

 

But city council is well known for not only giving freebies to downtown but also for forcing the taxpayer to donate $30,000 a year to Main Street Inc . . . .

I would like to hear how city council justifies not waiving these fees . . .

I predict city council will not wave these fees.



 

 



Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Aug 08, 2017 10:57

No waiver, please.



Posted by: T A Schwab | Aug 08, 2017 08:01

I am in full support of the value and funding of tech school, as a Rockland taxpayer I wondered why this valuable piece of waterfront property wasn't used to generate tax revenue and the school to be located on another piece of property not as valuable.Was there ever a choice of looking else where? I remember some talk of other sites for the school but nothing ever came of it.

 



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