Jan. 1 Letters to the Editor

Posted Dec. 31, 2009, at 4:48 p.m.

Wheeler not leaning

Assuming the majority of Bangor residents get their information about city government from the BDN, I must illuminate a statement in the Dec. 28 story about the city council’s budget workshop.

The story said I am “leaning toward a property tax increase” to address the $3.5 million decrease in revenue in the next fiscal year. At that meeting I asked the Finance Director how much property tax increase would be necessary to offset that shortfall. Her answer was $1.40 per thousand in valuation. That is unacceptable to the entire council.

I asked the question to illustrate the magnitude of our challenge in maintaining essential services, adequate school funding and avoiding drastic cuts in personnel. I did, later in the meeting, say that at this time I could see no way to avoid a property tax increase of some amount. But this was not a commitment to support one until we have exhausted all other means to reduce expenses.

I have no doubt the council will pass a resolve to request a “zero increase” in property taxes, as we did last year. But the state’s reductions in revenue sharing, general assistance reimbursement and education funding are so large that there will have to be a painful decision as to whether we reduce services, cut jobs, raise property taxes, or some combination of all these options. None of us wants to do any of these things, but we will apparently have no choice.

I am not “leaning” toward any specific option until we have the final budget projections before us.

Hal Wheeler

Bangor

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Antitrust protection

I am writing to urge our delegation to pass health insurance reform that will give more people access to affordable insurance and care.

The legislation should hold insurance companies to the same antitrust laws as other companies. Right now, insurance companies are exempt from laws designed to prevent monopolies and price gouging. The House bill would fix this, and so should the final bill.

Take the profit motive out of health insurance, and make the priority access to good, affordable coverage and care. If my husband and I — two healthy, middle-age people — have to pay Blue Cross Blue Shield a total of almost $20,000 a year each in combined premium and deductible just to get $1 of health care benefit, something’s terribly wrong.

Sarah Ruef-Lindquist

Camden

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Politicians and money

It’s pretty gutsy for Rep. Stacey Fitts to write as he did (“Costs of home-grown power,” BDN Op-ED, Dec. 29).

Rep. Fitts was a vocal proponent of the now notoriously problematic Vinalhaven wind project that would likely not be problematic if there had been Dixmont type restrictions in place.

Amazingly, this representative decries Dixmont’s move to protect itself from an industry and a state government that has no interest in the same. Is this not what effective democratic government is supposed to do?

That they have thrown a wrench in his and Big Wind’s plans to squeeze taxpayers across the country has evidently hit a nerve. The accelerating development of wind turbines on Maine’s mountains is driven by the hunger for federal subsidies without which the businesses and politicians so vigorously advocating wind power would instantly lose interest in being green.

As a participant on the Governor’s Task Force on Wind Power, Rep. Fitts helped develop legislation designed to eliminate the greatest obstacle to siting large industrial scale wind complexes: the people of Maine. It’s no wonder then that he is so put out with the people of Dixmont.

Be careful when you stand between a politician and his money.

Alan Michka

Lexington Township

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More efficiency, please

In these times of financial difficulty, I feel compelled to comment about some of the budgeting priorities of the state of Maine. Specifically, when I make my weekly trips to the Career Center looking for a job and see more than a handful of state employees sitting around doing nothing, I start to think about how much money those employees are making. It makes me think about how much taxpayer money is being wasted to pay for a state-employed chair-tester.

To make matters worse, these same state employees are often unable to assist job seekers in any substantial way. So my question to the state is, Why are you wasting our tax dollars paying people to do nothing? Why are these same people often unable to assist job seekers with finding work? I think it’s time the state does what the rest of us have had to do during this economic downturn. Become more efficient. Stop wasting our tax dollars to pay for bureaucrats who do nothing. We no longer have the money to pay for them.

P.J. Yost

Bangor

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