Monday, May 20, 2013

Tonight’s Cape Brunswick Town Council Meeting

There’s a regularly scheduled meeting of the Town Council tonight at Maine Street Station.

We thought you might enjoy taking a look at the ‘information packet’ for the meeting provided for councilors and anyone else who has interest.

You can find the document here.

There are three items in the packet we wish to bring to your attention.

The first is the Richardson resolution, which we told you about yesterday in this post.  We’ll have much more to say on the subject in future columns, including the fact that our own Prince of Distraction is pandering to the Daily Kos crowd with this offering.

For now, we just wish to point out that when the initiative passed, in June 2004, Brunswick schools were spending about $7,800 per student per year.  Now they’re proposing to spend nearly twice that amount in the coming school year.  Coughing up 55% in state funds back then was a hell of lot easier then than it is now.

And, at that time, the Medicaid (Maine Care) caseload was 255,000.  It peaked at 360,000 plus in 2011, and now stands around 330,000, though there is Legislative pressure to enroll another 70,000 people in the program.  The growth in enrolment and costs adds about $200 million in General Fund expenditures alone, and about 3 times that when federal funding is included.

Think this puts any pressure on the State budget and tax revenue, especially in an economy and tax and spending profile that is amongst the worst in the nation?

The second item is disposition of the Federal Street Rec Center, which you can read about on page 3 of the packet document linked above, under New Business Agenda Item 50.  The agenda reads, in part, as follows:

This item is sponsored by Chair Wilson, Councilor Watson, Councilor Tucker, Councilor Favreau, and Councilor Knight. The Council will be considering a resolution that will authorize the Town Manager to sign a purchase and sales agreement with the Brunswick Development Corporation for the sale of the property at 30 Federal Street. The resolution stipulates that the sales price is to be no less than $200,000. The resolution further stipulates that the sales proceeds are to be applied to the 2013-14 budget, specifically to assist the School Department budget.

Backup materials for this item begin at Page 9 of the packet.


A few thoughts on this item:

  • A prime in town location with a still very useful buidling is worth only $200,000?  One might think the bare property alone is worth that or more, but Sally Sellit would have to be the judge of that.
  • Bare property is, in all likelihood what it will become if the sale goes through, in keeping with our town’s penchant for tearing things down when we don’t ‘cherish’ them anymore, or allowing others to do the same after we transfer ownership for a bargain basement price.
  • We note that CEI is starting to use language like “50 new jobs” if the sale goes through.  We’re pretty sure that means that 50 people who now work elsewhere, will work out of the facility in Brunswick.  We don’t expect them to generate 50 new jobs on top of the payroll they already have.
  • Note that as referred to in earlier budget discussions, the municipal side of our government now sees themselves as sugar daddies for the School Department.  Hey, what’s a charitable donation of $200 grand or so to the schools?  They’re really struggling over there, only increasing their spending at more than 6% per year per student, and nobody can get by on that sort of barebones allowance.  Just ask Rich Ellis and others.  Besides, we don’t have any streets to fix, or brick sidewalk trip-holes to repair.
  • The good news is that if CEI takes over the property, it will continue to be non-taxable, so we keep the property tax rolls from growing out of hand.


  • But there is a moral dilemma involved.  One side of the schoolie contingent would dearly love to get their hands on that $200 grand so they can do whatever with it.  The other side of the schoolie contingent is verklempt over the possibility of not having access to the Rec Center and its programs right smack dab exactly where it is.  They’ve even created a web page and petition to make their case.  Of interest is that they say the property is appraised at $465,000; who knows how much Sally could get for it, especially since we have ‘the best schools.’
  • Stand by; this could result in some delicious internecine warfare between various factions of the BCU/schoolie demographic, including those with aspirations for higher office.
  • At the very least, though, note how stewardship of town assets continues to be one of the defining characteristics of Cape Brunswick leadership.  Our history in such matters is long and undistinguished.

The third item is the packet provided details of possible budget reductions.  You’ll find the details beginning on page 31 of the downloaded packet pdf file.

A quick glance should create two impressions.  The first is that both the town and the school department are upping their game when it comes to sandbagging residents on the budget process.  There are, to say the least, some very curious points made, like eliminating ‘debt service for Hawthorne School.’  Was this just an “inadvertent error,” or an intentional plant, or did Vinny have a sit-down wid Tony to rearrange da payments?

The second is the cost of some of the ‘positions’ that were proposed to be added, but are now being put on public display to demonstrate serious fiscal prudence.  Keep in mind that the schools operate for about 185 days a year, or as most of us would think of it, 9 months.

A number of positions shown are in the $70.000 to $80,000 plus range for those months.  A half time elementary school teacher shows as $36,000, or a FTE value of $72,000.  We would suggest that these compensation rates exceed, on a weekly basis, that of most of the senior managers of municipal government.


Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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