If I recall correctly, the sitting council has stated emphatically that it recognizes the town's precarious financial position and intended to make a conscious effort to keep expenses at a minimum.
Well guess what - at the June 24th meeting they did exactly that. NO!
Instead they approved a $20,000 loan from our Revolving Loan Fund to Brown's Custom Builders. (See additional article entitled "Mike Brown's Custom Builders).
They also approved almost $24,000 for a new 3/4 ton truck for the Wastewater Department and another $25,872 for two battery-powered stretchers for the Ambulance Department.
Yes, I'm sure the truck is much needed by the Wastewater Department. And the two battery-powered stretchers will ease the burden being placed on our EMT's who are all getting up there in years. In addition, the money for these stretchers will not be coming from your tax money but rather from a one-time stimulus payout by Mainecare.
My problem is that we have a council which committed itself to reducing spending, yet in one night they went through almost $70,000, not including the warrants (town and school expenses).
Also approved at this meeting was the $7.5 million school budget which you people voted YES to accept. How many of you knew there was a referendum and that you could have made a difference and reduced your tax committment considerably?
In addition, this council has previously approved over $10,000 to the Chamber of Commerce for next year but I hope you've all seen the Visitor Guide, put out by the Chamber, which is almost a page by page advertisement for New England Outdoor Center, instead of an equal representation of ALL of the Katahdin Region businesses. Why has both East Millinocket and Medway reduced their financial support and yet we have not?
The Council has also previously approved $900.00 for an "ad" in a cycling publication and a $500.00 entrance fee for the Maine Downtown Network which, if pursued, could cost $15,000 for 3 years for a total of $45,000. Enough already of these "special" interest groups. This is the taxpayer's money that is being spent. And yet this council saw fit to reduce health care benefits to its retired town employees. Where are our priorities?
Maybe I'm overreacting, but we, as a town, are heading for a financial crisis and instead of tightening our belts now, it seems the majority of the council is spending money "while we have it to spend". Whatever happened to saving for a rainy day? The storm is on our doorstop.
Whether you agree with me or not, I urge all of the citizens of this community to attend our council meetings. This is where the decisions on your tax money and the future of our town are being made.
We need to ensure that our council members live up to their original committment to reduce the spending of our tax dollars, and that cannot be accomplished with only a few vocal advocates.
Please attend our meetings and help save Millinocket from the financial catastrophe toward which it is heading.