Stockton Springs Report
The Select Board meets Feb. 7 and 13. If the press releases below from Town Manager Rich Couch are any indication, the meetings should be quite lively.
Town reacts to governor's proposed budget
Gov. Paul LePage's proposed budget for the 2013/2014 fiscal year has local government across the state of Maine nervous. The proposal to repeal the state revenue-sharing program will hurt local government, and the shift in the state's Homestead Exemption will hurt Maine taxpayers directly. Stockton Springs is not exempt from that hurt.
Town Manager Rich Couch recently released figures that show how the governor's proposal will hurt Stockton Springs. The elimination of the revenue-sharing program would cost the town more than $168,000 in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Couch warns that the figure is "nearly one third of the local portion of the town's spending plan." Although Couch is concerned, he advises that it is "too early to panic." The town is working with the Maine Municipal Association and towns and cities across the state to let the state Legislature know how hurtful this proposed budget will be. "The numbers speak for themselves," Couch said. "If the proposed budget isn't changed by the Legislature, the town's mil rate will have to go up 81 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, unless the town makes significant cuts to local programs that residents depend on." Couch stated.
At the same time residents might be paying a higher mil rate to maintain current services, the governor has proposed a cut which will affect property owners directly -- a shift in the Homestead Exemption. The Homestead Exemption subtracts $10,000 from a home's valuation up front. Currently, the program is available to any resident who applies and qualifies. However, Gov. LePage has proposed that the Homestead Exemption be eliminated for taxpayers who are under 65 years of age. This shift will cost 346 Stockton Springs residents an additional $147, on average, on their property tax bill if the state Legislature goes along with he governor's proposal. Couch is optimistic that the Legislature will work to defend local government and Maine residents. "We have to let the legislative process work" Couch said.
The town Select Board members are concerned as well. Wayne Kraeger commented, "If this proposal goes through as presented, we will likely be forced to cut services. We can't pass an 81-cent increase in mil rate on to the taxpayer at the same time they are losing $147 from the Homestead Exemption." Peter Curley expressed concern. "We are already seeing more and more people who are having trouble paying their taxes; this will really hurt," Curley stated. All three Select Board members hope that residents will get involved by contacting the state representatives for Stockton Springs. Lesley Cosmano stated, "We know that people calling our state lawmakers does make a difference. It is important that lawmakers in Augusta realize this isn't just MMA and local government whining -- this is real impact that will hurt real Maine people."
You can leave a message for Rep. James Gillway in Augusta at 800-423-2900 or Sen. Michael Thibodeau in Augusta at 800-423-6900.
Recreation director resigns
Town Manager Rich Couch regretfully accepted Candice Moore's resignation as the town's recreation director this week. Luckily, Candy will be staying on until the end of the town's fiscal year. Candy will oversee another season of youth baseball (with home games played at Walter F. Trundy Field) before she departs for the major leagues (or the full-time job of her dreams).
"I'm sorry to see Candy move on, but I respect her decision and appreciate all that she has done for the recreation program," Couch said. Couch continued, "I'm told that Candy stepped up to the task when the town really needed someone. I understand there was a basketball league at one point, and a floor hockey event. In my time here, Candy helped with volleyball for the women over 40 crowd, organized roller skating parties in Bangor, brought Zumba to Stockton Springs and organized a street dance last summer that was a success -- bugs and all!." For a part-time position, Candy accomplished a lot.
Couch joked, "I'm not sure what we will do at the concession stand at the ball field without Candy. Little did I know that when she taught me how to cook a cheeseburger, it was so she could retire her flipper! Seriously, I do wish her the best." Couch added.
Candy advises that she is still accepting new members to participate in the upcoming events.
Eighteen people enjoyed spaghetti and meatballs on Jan. 23. Town Manager Couch reports that he did not hear any reports of anyone losing a meatball as it rolled onto the floor and out the door!
The Good Kettle crew will serve lunch again the second Wednesday in February (2/13/13) I imagine there will be a Valentine theme. Please RSVP to Town Hall at 567-3404.
American Legion news
On Feb. 3, there will be a Vietnam Veterans commemoration ceremony held on at the Stockton Springs Town Hall. Members were to arrive at 10:45 a.m. for the 11 a.m. ceremony. Lt. Col. Peter Ogden, director of the Maine Bureau Veterans Services, was scheduled to participate in the ceremony representing Gov. Paul LePage and Adj. Gen. of Maine Brig. Gen. James D. Campbell. The United States sent 2,710,000 Americans in uniform to Vietnam. They represented 9.7 percent of their generation. From the first U.S. military members killed in 1959 to the last in 1975, their families suffered for their service on behalf of the United States.
As Jerry Dobbins gave all for flag, country and the town of Stockton Springs, many local residents have offered the same, and, thankfully, have survived to continue to give on the home front. It makes one proud to live in the beautiful town of Stockton Springs.