While there will be a number of questions facing voters statewide on Tuesday, Nov. 7, residents of the towns that make up RSU 40 will face another pressing, difficult decision.
After months of discussion, hearings, and meetings, it’s time for the residents of Waldoboro, Warren, Friendship, Union, and Washington to officially decide the fate of the proposed $81 million capital improvement bond.
A knee-jerk reaction to the figure is understandable. The first time the idea was floated to the district’s board of directors in May, our reporter was asked to double-, then triple-check the figure to ensure there wasn’t a missing decimal point. After reviewing the extensive list of what the money would be used for – additions, heating, septic, water treatment replacements, etc. at schools across RSU 40 – we finally believed it wasn’t a mistake.
That said, we also feel for the residents of these towns, especially our neighbors in Waldoboro. Town officials have been rightly concerned about the impact the bond’s approval would have on the municipal budget. According to a document provided by the district, if the bond is approved, it could cause tax increases of $359 per $100,000 of valuation at its peak, quite the chunk of change!
In addition the bond is projected to accumulate over $49 million in interest over its 25-year span, when calculated using current interest rates. Students attending RSU 40 schools today are likely to have children of their own going through the same schools before the bond is paid off.
It’s been said that the reason this proposal’s price tag is so high is due to years of trying to get the annual operating budget – and its impact on residents – as low as possible. But now, this amount seems unbelievable, and it doesn’t address the yearly annual maintenance that will need to be completed to ensure the same situation doesn’t arise again.
There is some very necessary work that needs to be completed, a belief shared by many of those who have participated in the public walkthroughs of the buildings. Even while speaking against the details of this particular proposal, residents have expressed they understand the need for work on district schools.
But the figure being proposed is a lot – truly, a lot – to ask of the residents and businesses in these five towns.
In the event the bond doesn’t go through, we hope the administration can reconvene and work with municipalities to find a solution that is acceptable and affordable for all.
We are in shock about the tragedy in Lewiston and sympathize with those affected. Maine is a close-knit community, and it’s impossible to find someone in this state who hasn’t been impacted by the horrific shooting. Our thoughts are with the families and friends of victims and survivors.