Thursday, June 23, 2016

Post-script on the Crumbling Cookie….

We posted this item two days ago.


Take a look at the details provided below, and ask yourself how the new Metro Breez compares to the Downeaster in providing ‘public service.’  Check the fares, the schedule options, etc.


Anybody wanna bet that Brunswick, and especially the “All Aboard Brunswick” ensemble, won’t go to the mat to see that the service DOES NOT EXTEND TO BRUNSWICK?  Their options for Razzle-Dazzle will be a bit more limited than in the past, we think, though they could contract with MSMT to come up with a new song and dance routine to fool the jury.

You should begin your study here:

Here’s a preview:


That’s right, the public can ride from Freeport to Portland, including the PTC, for anywhere from $3.00 to $1.35.

You’ll find the route map and schedule here: 

Take a look at these schedule options, and compare them to the Downeaster.  The train, of course, is not capable of taking you anywhere convenient in Portland; it can only take you to the train/bus depot at the Thompson’s Point area (“A” in the below.)


And our betters and elected officials want us to believe the Downeaster is a wonder?  It may turn out Brunswick area residents would be well advised to drive to Freeport and take the Metro south, whether to enjoy various points between Bean Town and Portland, or to connect to buses (or trains) to the Boston area, or both.

Talk about long shots!  This may be your last chance to get rich!

Now that we think of it, Brunswick could become a bookie’s paradise.   Besides the wager just mentioned, there’s the equally sure bet that the revaluation now underway won’t end up raising your property tax bill.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Could the cookie be crumbling?


Yes, you’re correct.  Your correspondent has been derelict in keeping up a decent posting tempo.

Such is the curse of being an aged observer of issues and events which hold less and less interest as the years advance.  Not to mention a growing sense of futility as to the value of posting opinions on these items.

Oh well, enough whining for now.


We’re here tonight to pass along the latest step forward in public transit, which if local authorities have any sense, should be a cause for concern.  Especially as it relates to Brunswick.

We refer to this fresh article in The Forecaster:

If you want a perfect example of the difference between passenger rail and passenger coach service, especially as to how long and how much it takes to get service underway, it’s all right there in plain sight.  Especially if you’ve followed our reports and comments over the years.

We couldn't help but think of this item we penned elsewhere in May:

The First Law of Public Surface Transportation:

There is nothing passenger rail can do that contemporary Motor Coaches can't
do more immediately, more economically, more flexibly, more cleanly,
more efficiently, more effectively, more safely, more reliably, with vastly superior
point to point service, and with little or no front end investment, no need
for new infrastructure, and no need for government

Take a look at the number of stops, the frequency of trips, and the costs mentioned in the article.


Then consider this passage:

"METRO General Manager Greg Jordan said Brunswick may be added to the service by next summer, with discussions taking place over the next year. METRO had extended the offer to Brunswick in 2014, but the Town Council and Town Manager had concerns about the cost."

Concerns about cost?  Oh sure!  What about the 80-100K we put into ‘Departure Center’ operations for the Downeaster?  And the various hidden costs associated with TIFs, Brunswick Taxi, and who knows what all, including the failure by JHR to build out the Station complex?

The real concern the council and TM should have, we might suggest, is the embarrassment this commuter bus service will expose them to for joining the ‘All Aboard Brunswick’ foamers in going ga-ga over the Downeaster, which has failed to deliver on even one projected benefit to our local economy.  Unless you're a retired Ambassador and his wife.


When some actual ridership and public response data for the Metro begin to accumulate and surface, we expect there to be a good deal of growth in the egg-wash business in town.

Maybe someone will build a face-cleansing business over at “Brunswick Landing.”  Or make use of the vacant space in the Maine Street Station.  Once locals become fans of convenient buses, should service be extended here, that space should be a fine location for a “Facial Spa.” 

Proximity to the Brunswick Town Hall should provide a steady supply of ‘walk-in’ customers.

PS:  If you happened to attend the special performance at MSMT last night featuring their performance interns in a production called “A Grand Night for Singing,” you enjoyed a very special treat.  They were all brilliant, and the special ticket prices made the show all the more incredible.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Finally, Brunswick officials do SOMETHING to cut expenditures…..

Well, that’s not exactly what we mean.


Once we explain, you may not be so impressed.  And you may ask how much they’re cutting expenses by, and why.

We’re one of those ‘responsible’ citizens who years ago decided we didn’t want our property taxes impounded with our mortgage payments, because doing so numbed us to the annual increase in the levy.  Between the insurance increase and the tax increase, blended into a monthly mortgage payment, it was far too easy to shrug and say ‘so what else is new?’

More than that, when we get our property tax bill, we pay the first installment on time, and the second installment ahead of time so we can deduct the total amount in the current tax year.  The town gets to book our second payment ($4,000 plus) months ahead of the due date, and we get no consideration for paying early.  Several readers will call us an idiot for doing so, and you’re probably right.

At the very least, we think our early payment yields enough return to the town to pay for a few postage stamps and similar office overhead.

Which probably has you wondering why we’re here.


Here’s why.  The Side household has two vehicles; one is a 2012, and the other is a 2015.  As Chance would have it, both were bought and registered in June.  So responsible citizens that we are, we were mindful of the need to have both inspected this month, and to visit the Town Hall to cough up our excise tax and registration fees so we could get our ‘stickers’ for another 12 months.

We began our mail box vigil for the letters of notice from the town that we were due to re-register, but they didn’t show as they did in the past.  Like Pavlov’s dogs, we had been trained to expect them after years and years of such notices.  We even stopped by the Town Hall yesterday to vote, but didn’t think to inquire about the notice, believing that our trusty town officials would see that we are legal, and that they collect their revenue on a timely basis.


We happened to be looking for some town budget data today, and found our way to the Brunswick Finance Department page, where we found this notice:


Effective July 1, 2015, the Town of Brunswick discontinued mailing automobile re-registration-by-mail notices.
Please call the Tax Office at (207) 725-6657 for more information.


Maybe we missed the letter telling us, after decades of registering at the Town Hall, that this change was taking place so we were prepared.  Note, of course, that our vehicles need renewal in June, and this policy changed on July 1st.  Last year, we paid combined excise taxes of $1,000, which is not a trivial amount.

Old as we are, we understand we can be forgetful; and we often forget what we were supposed to remember.  We’re also old enough to know that from time to time we get bamboozled by various officials proclaiming how hard they work to reduce expenses, when in fact what they are doing is changing procedures to increase revenues.  A few months back, as we were renewing our dog licenses, we watched another resident pay a $25 penalty for being a few days late on renewing hers.

We hope you’ll excuse us if we’re leaning towards a penny wise, pound foolish view of town finances at the moment, and suggesting there might be a penchant for nibbling around the edges to sqeeze a few more shekels from us.  We plan to look into that.

For the time being, be forewarned that if  you’ve grown accustomed to getting a notice from the town to renew your vehicle registration, you are now officially SOL.

You’re on your own, as the old saying goes.  But hey, a stamp here, a stamp there, next thing you know, your property taxes are going up by a dollar less than they would have, and late registration revenue, and related tickets, are on the increase.

It’s all good, right?

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