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Alyce Maragus

Shame on the Councilors Who Voted to Approve a Loan to Brown's Custom Builders
By Alyce Maragus
Jul 27, 2009 - 12:43:12 PM

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All four of you should be ashamed of yourselves!

You were elected by the people of this town who believed you would look out for their best interests. But did you? NO!

Instead, from all I can gather, you put personal feelings and friendships above logic and the financial information you had at your disposal. These were the wrong reasons to disperse town (taxpayer's) money.  If you felt that strongly all four of you should have put up your own finances to help your friend.

Now we've been told and read many times that this Revolving Fund is not funded by town taxpayers. Let me ask you, where do you think this money comes from?

Do you pay state sales and income taxes?  Do you pay federal income and all the other federal taxes?  The answer is YES you surely do.  When state or federal grants are awarded it is your tax money that is paying for them.  Where else do you think the money comes from?

Now back to Brown's Custom Builders.  This council was made aware of a January 2007 Bangor Daily News feature article that "Brown's" had received a total of $560,000 in loans from the Maine Rural Development Authority, Key Bank and Coastal Enterprises.  In addition they knew "Brown's" business was receiving rent from Portland Glass and Pinetree Treasures (a small group of crafters). They had to be aware of "Brown's" contract with Twin Pines for kitchen cabinets, especially since it was again a feature story in the Bangor Daily News.  "Brown's" was designated a Pine Tree Zone business when it was located on Bates Street and that status was transferred and enlarged with its move to Outer Central Street.

But Brown claims he does not receive any tax benefits or breaks from that status; however, I doubt that to be true.  If that were the case why was it so important to him even be designed Pine Tree Zone status?  It is only logical to believe there must be some benefits that comes from it.

After all of the above,which the councilors were aware of, Brown/Preo also received a pittance of $3,000 from the K.A.R.E. committee and I say "a pittance" because Ron Preo came in asking for $15,000. but had to settle for a much lesser amount.  Since K.A.R.E. is a joint venture of all three towns - could it be that neither East Millinocket nor Medway bought into Preo's "tale of woe"?  Why then did our four councilors?

Now we come to last Thursday's (7/23/09) council meeting.  In revisiting the loan approval (passed at the 7/9/09 meeting there is a notation that "Brown's" has 7 mortgages/liens filed in Penobscot County Registry of Deeds and 7 security interests/liens filed with the ME State Sec. of State UCC Office.  All of this information was noted, as supplied by the town attorney Dean Beaupain.  Still 4 councilors proceeded to approve the loan when they could have rescinded their approval.

Carrying on - Channel 2 presented a segment on their Friday (7/24/09) evening news program.  Of course this was only after their loan had been approved. In an interview Ron Preo stated "Brown's" is in debt for $600.000 and has to lay off ALL of its workers.  And in a Bangor Daily News article dated 7/25-26/09, co-owner Ron Preo states that his company has $35,000 in lien debts.  Quite a success story!

In this same B.D.N. article Nick Sambides Jr. stated the company had a $207,000 payroll as of late 2007.  I have done some quick math calculations, and have determined the following.  If Brown/Preo were employing 10 people at $400 per week, their weekly payroll would be $4,000; and multiplied by 52 weeks would come to $208,000 per yearly payroll.  Also, had they only employed 8 people at $500 per week their weekly payroll would be $4,000 and would come to $208,000 per yearly payroll.  Both scenarios come close to the $207,000. Of course, I have to agree that anything is better than being unemployed.

And yet, Ron Preo stated at a P.B.S. special held at Northern Timberland Cruisers that they were paying their employees more than the mill.  He has also alluded to employing up to 14 people.  Somehow none of these figures agree with the information Preo has put out there.

I'm told that "Brown's" took a hard hit when their deal with Sky Burrill's Majesty Hardwood Floors fell through and that they may also have underbid on the Twin Pines project.  Even should either story be true, does that mean this town must pay for Brown's Custom Builder's bad business decisions.  I really don't think so.

Now I have been accused of being negative and against progress in our area.  I contend neither accusation is true; but rather I have tried to encourage the council to be cautious with the little finances our town still has.  I think this is called "fiscal responsibility".  Likewise, our local radio station has come under attack  for reading some of my articles.  I am only too happy to work with Jim Talbott in an effort to educate the public as to what happens on the council level.  There are few media outlets who are willing to print the truth but I have found both the radio station and Magic City News to be willing to print BOTH sides of the story should others wish to be heard.  Thank GOD for freedom of speech and the press.

 Enough! Please review all of what I have outlined to you and then tell me if you had been on the council, would YOU have loaned this company another $20,000 of our hard earned "taxpayer's" money especially based on the information that would have been available to you?

Again I say "shame" on those councilors who let their personal feelings influence their vote.  Did you really think another $20,000, with little or no collateral, would keep this business afloat?

I also congratulate the three councilors who put personal feelings aside and exercised their better judgement and voted "NO" to this loan.

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