Letters to the Editor

Taxes – local government does it backwards

By Dale Landrith, Sr.

    As a new year approaches a business owner must prepare a budget for their business.
    Decisions must be made as to how many workers will be employed, what compensation can be afforded for those employed, will new equipment be needed, and if the business is sales oriented, how much inventory will be needed.

    However, a successful business owner cannot begin the budget with these thoughts. Where does the process begin? The first decision must be to determine the amount of revenue (sales) that will be created. The revenue must exceed the expenditures or the business will eventually fail.Individuals also must in some form go through the same process. Before purchasing a home, car, or even type of food, one must determine if there are enough funds to pay for the expense. This is again called budgeting.
    How does the process work when our local towns and school districts prepare their budgets? Local governments analyze their expenses first. They analyze the payroll, heating, electricity, fuel, debt repayment, equipment costs, maintenance, and so on.
    The analysis is done on the basis of whether they will spend more or less on each item in the budget in the coming year.
    After compiling all of the numbers, a budget of total expenditures is complete. Only then do they consider income. Income in this case is called taxes. If the “necessary” expenditures exceed the amount of taxes collected in the previous year, then a property tax increase is indicated.
    Using this method the local governments avoid the negative implications of running out of money and shift the burden to individuals and businesses.Individual households and businesses must adjust their budgets to pay the required increased property taxes. In the last few years statistics tell us that the disposable income of individuals and the profitability of small businesses have actually decreased.
    While it is admitted that local taxation is not the only cause of these decreases, it is certainly a significant contributor. What is the result of continually rising property taxes? The owner in the lower taxed town has a higher value of their real estate and thus greater wealth.
    What would be the impact of towns and school districts being required to change their approach to budgeting? The assessors in each municipality would provide estimated property tax revenue based upon existing rates and values. Budgets would then conform to these amounts.
    As assessed values of a town’s real estate increases, there would be a corresponding increase in the amount of revenue available.
    There would be an immediate stabilization of property taxes and a huge incentive for the town government to make decisions based upon increasing property values and general wealth as the source of increased income.While the details of this approach are admittedly simplistic, the concept of simply raising taxes to accommodate new spending is not the correct choice.
    The general population is aging. Retirees are finding it more and more difficult to pay property taxes and are being forced by economics to make difficult choices as to where they are able to live. Solutions to ever-increasing property taxes need to be foun; and having local government learning to live within its means is a good place to start.
    Dale Landrith Sr. is a member of a Midcoast-based group of concerned citizens who meet regularly to discuss issues of public interest. Their award-winning column “Another View” appears regularly in the Courier-Gazette in Rockland as well as other regional papers.


An open letter to the USM president

To the Editor:
    It is from Utah that I am writing to you to ask you to do everything possible to save the USM French major. My husband and I lived in Maine, both north and south, for many years. We spent 20 years in southern Maine and I had the opportunity to teach a good number of French courses at USM and to know Nancy Erikson.
    I will not repeat the many good reasons to keep French at the University, you already know them. But I do want to express my dismay at the decision to cut the French major from the programs offered at the University.
    We are now residing in Salt Lake City, Utah. In the whole state there are 14 elementary schools that offer French dual immersion programs, two of which are in Salt Lake City. The teaching of French begins in the first grade. Other dual language immersion schools teach Chinese, Portuguese, Spanish, German.
    Utah values languages. This is a very progressive state in regard to the world of business. Utah has been attracting more and more businesses like Goldman Sachs. Knowing at least one other language is an asset.
    Maine is the ideal place to build a strong French program at all levels of education. Maine should be the leader in the study of French; its rich past and its proximity with the province of Québec provide a strong foundation to encourage, develop the teaching of this language. Isn’t it ironic that Utah is far ahead of Maine in that field?
    For several years, I taught Adult French Education in Portland. My students came from all walks of life and backgrounds. There is a great interest among the population of Maine to learn French, to know it so as to have meaningful contacts with French-speaking people, to discover its culture and enjoy it, and for business.
    In conclusion, I renew my plea to you to find a way to keep the French program at USM and help Nancy Erikson make it stronger.

Marie-Josèphe Silver
Salt Lake City


UM appreciates support

To the Editor:
    On behalf of the Board of Trustees and the entire University of Maine System, we want to thank the voters for approving funding to build a new animal and plant disease and insect control lab for Maine. The new facility will enable us to provide better public health services to Maine families as well as carry out research critical for Maine’s agricultural and other natural resourced-based industries.
    For a century the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension has been putting university research to work in homes, businesses, farms and communities across Maine. We are proud of this legacy of service and are grateful to everyone who cast a vote in support of our work on behalf of the people of our Maine.

Susan Hunter, president  University of Maine
James H. Page, chancellor University of Maine System


Classic entertainment at Center Theatre

To the Editor;
    Center Theatre recently presented a big-screen showing of the historic 1925 silent movie classic “Phantom of the Opera” with an original piano accompaniment played by its composer, Doug Protsik of Woolwich.
    The event was wonderfully entertaining. With a cast headed by old-time great Lon Chaney, “the man of 1,000 faces,” the film provided chills and shock moments enough to impress the most jaded viewer. It was easy to forget I was watching a movie that first appeared some 89 years ago.
    As impressive as the action on-screen was the dazzling piano artistry of Doug Protsik. Doug has revived the lost art of the pre-talkies accompanist, laying down notes that enhance and amplify the visual images. He spices his musical wizardry with witty and informed commentary that adds to the enjoyment of the event.
    The theatre has scheduled Doug for two more performances in the coming weeks, offering the Buster Keaton comedy “The General” on Saturday, Nov. 29. Call the theatre or visit the website for details.

    David Dean


Update on Black Frog a/k/a Puckerbrush

To the Editor:
    My wife, Robyn, and I recently purchased the business and building in Greenville known as The Black Frog. Robyn and I live in Alna (between White-field and Wiscasset).
    We have been coming to Greenville for several years. We are excited to have the opportunity to live and work full-time in the area in the foreseeable future.
    When we purchased the business, it was already closed. After evaluating our options we decided it was best for the long run to keep it closed and take the building down and build new.
    The current plans are to begin taking it down and rebuilding the summer of 2015 with an estimated completion in the summer of 2016.
    We have also decided to change the name to Puckerbrush. Why Puckerbrush? Well, all of the more majestic or elegant names like “Timbers,” “Birches” and “Red Maple” are taken.
    I always felt that whenever I am out in the puckerbrush, I am away from the rat race. That is how I feel when I am in the Greenville area and want that feeling for our place.
    The new building will occupy the same footprint as the current building. It will have a bar, dining room and outside dinning on the barge. The building will be “contemporary rustic” with lots of wood and glass.
    It will be energy efficient and we will be seeking LEED certification. We have engaged a design agency, Ervin Architecture of Bangor. We will feature a wood-fired grill and a wood-fired oven with an open concept kitchen.
    Our goal is to have a place that is beautiful, warm, friendly and away from the rat race. Robyn and I have never been in the restaurant business. We are kind of “foodies” and like to enjoy great dining experiences, good food, great atmosphere and awesome service. We want to bring that to our place here. Therefore, we will be hiring professionals to assist us in carrying out our vision.
    Even though we are “foodies” we are not food snobs. Would food snobs have poutine on the menu?
    We plan to use locally-sourced products as much as possible. Our menu will offer fresh produce and meats. We don’t expect to have a large menu but do plan to have several daily specials.
    We do have a Facebook page for Puckerbrush where we will post updates on our progress. On Dec. 4, Keenan Auctions is conducting an auction at the current building location.
    We appreciate everyone’s patience during this transition period.

Dave and Robyn Clark

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