2016-04-01 / Letters

Where has all the business gone?

To the editor:

If that sounds like the word from a song in the 1960s, it was meant to.

Thanks to the hard work of “Protect South Portland” and other so-called “civic minded individuals,” South Portland has lost another employer. In order to save precious green space at Hamlin School, Martins Point moved to Scarborough. Now due to the “Regulation Manipulation and Red Tape,” NGL has given up the fight to relocate at Rigby Yard. All I can think of is a Bible verse, Daniel 5:5, about handwriting on the wall. When are we going to wake up to the fact that when business moves out of South Portland our property taxes will rise?

If you look at your latest property tax bill you will see that the pie, also known as your tax dollar, is divided as follows: 30.44 percent city, 65.50 percent school and 4.06 percent county. Over the years the school and county have gone up at the expense of the city. Over half of city employees are in the school system yet they get two-thirds of the money. Federal and state regulations determine the amount they are allocated. The city with the fire, police, public works and park systems get one-third. To add insult to injury the city has no control over the school department even though it is listed as a department of the city.

The school budget is going up by 3.7 percent, if voted in. The superintendent says that is really only 2.7 percent, because the feds pay the other 1 percent. As much as I hate to say it, “We are the feds.” The city budget will most likely increase by the same amount; 32 cents per $1,000 comes to $62 increase on a homeowner of a $200,000 property. Now if you are a two-income family with kids in the school system, that is a bargain. If you are on Social Security without kids or even grandkids in the school system, it is not. Social Security, because it is indexed to the CPI, has not been given an increase this year. They did not give an increase in 2010 or 2011 either. The school system didn’t adjust, or possibly even consider those collecting, their increases in those years. The cost of living in Maine is high regardless of any other factor. We are at the “End of the Highway” as far as delivery of goods are concerned, so milk, bread, gas etc. is going to be higher.

How about a year without an increase? Let the residents of South Portland have a “Whew” just once. Oh, and forget about moving to Scarborough, their school system costs more than ours. Our school systems are racing us to the poor house.

Michael R. Pock South Portland

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