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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