Waste water study, school conversations continue

By Stephanie Grinnell | Sep 15, 2017

STOCKTON SPRINGS — The town's two newest selectmen defended their positions on a waste water study and property tax relief after being questioned by a former selectman Sept. 7.

During the public comment portion of the regular meeting, Lesley Cosmano asked Selectmen Tom Fraser and Betsy Bradley to address a concern that both spoke out against a proposed waste water study that was narrowly approved during town meeting earlier this year. Bradley said she is not against investigating options for waste water treatment but said she based her run for the board on bringing the community together.

"There wasn't a cohesiveness in town and I want to make everyone feel heard, without judgment," she said, adding she hopes a more active community will bring forth ideas to decrease the town's property tax burden. "I do support our school and I support our kids being in our communities. ... I would love to see ideas to bring people to town, fill these empty houses with families. I welcome anybody to come forth to increase the community aspect."

Fraser said he does not want Stockton Springs students to become "pawns" used to lower school costs by changing districts and said he supports whatever actions are taken by voters. Regarding property taxes, he said he pays his, just like most residents, but said he's "only one person."

Selectman Peter Curley, a long-time member of the board, shared his thoughts on property taxes and economic development as well.

"When a selectman is asked — it's up to you to bring business to town, it's stupid," he said, adding businesses need an incentive, such as available waste water treatment. "I don't understand how people can say: 'It's up to you people.'"

Curley said there isn't a lot of leeway in the municipal budget because 70 percent of property taxes fund local schools.

Town Manager Courtney O'Donnell also jumped in to defend town spending on the Public Works Department when a resident suggested money could be saved by contracting out services.

"There's only two (full-time) people, but they do a lot. I will vouch for my highway department, they do a lot of work," she said.

Discussions then turned to those who fail to pay property taxes and how the town can leverage payment. O'Donnell said the town is bound by state rules and cannot be more aggressive in seeking past-due payments.

"We don't really want to take people's property," she said. "We are aggressive up to a point."

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Stephanie Grinnell
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Stephanie is editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. She previously served as editor of Camden Herald following its return in April 2012.

Stephanie also was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has nearly a decade of experience in the newspaper business ranging from southern and central Maine to Waldo County.

Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.

Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and chickens.

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