LINCOLN, Maine — Residents who were against spending $2.4 million or $1.5 million on a new Public Works Department garage because they don’t want to see taxes rise likely will be disappointed no matter what happens, Town Councilor Shaun Drinkwater said Friday.
Since the state has cut down on revenue-sharing and other programs that funnel money to municipalities over the last several years — a pattern Drinkwater believes is likely to continue — taxes likely will rise in any event, and the town’s need for a new garage won’t disappear, he said.
In fact, a delay in building the garage or building one unable to handle more than the town’s present needs, given the likelihood that the state will turn over maintenance of Lincoln’s state roads to Lincoln within a few years, probably will lead to higher costs later, Drinkwater said.
“I don’t want my taxes to go up any more than anybody else does,” said Drinkwater, who owns several local businesses and is chairman of the council’s building committee. “But if I have to pay a few more dollars for a new garage, I will. We have awesome services, I think, from town workers, and I don’t want to lose them.”
Still, in following a council request, Drinkwater and his committee have pared down the design to fit an estimated bottom-line cost of about $970,000, he said. That design features four bays, including a wash bay and lubrication pit, plus office, break room and parts storage areas.
The original design cost $2.4 million, but a virtual taxpayer revolt against the price and its impact on taxes led by a half-dozen of the town’s leading business owners convinced council members that less garage would be preferable.
They said business profits, property values and government services have declined, taxes have risen and the town’s population has remained static. Councilors also rejected a $1.5 million garage plan on Oct. 27.
The committee, which met Wednesday, probably will continue work on the garage and reduce the design further, given some members’ desire to see the garage come in at about $675,000, Drinkwater said. Committee members hope to meet sometime after Thanksgiving, but no date has been set.
The present design of four bays “will work right now, but if two years down the road the state says OK, you have to take over the state roads [maintenance] and we have to get more people and equipment, then we will have a really tight fit there,” Drinkwater said.