BRUNSWICK, Maine — A day after the Maine House of Representatives passed a bill to expand the Midcoast Regional Redevelopment Authority board by two seats, to be designated by the towns of Brunswick and Topsham, the Senate voted the bill down.
Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, who sponsored the bill, said Thursday she hopes it will now be sent to a committee for the two legislative bodies to “reach some sort of accord.”
LD 1479 would add two seats to the 11-member board of trustees of the MRRA — the entity charged with redeveloping the former Brunswick Naval Air Station — with one seat to be appointed by Brunswick officials and the other by Topsham officials.
Daughtry said Wednesday that adding the two locally appointed seats would ensure that the communities that spend the most on services to the former base and that pay the most in property taxes have a direct voice on the board.
“The perfect equation for economic development is to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and that it’s a team effort. This makes sure Brunswick and Topsham have a voice,” Daughtry said. “The goal here is to bring peace to the valley … Our futures are intimately intertwined. We need to have everyone have a seat on the board and stop the tensions and the feuds.
The bill, which split the all-Democrat Brunswick delegation, was opposed most vocally by Sen. Stan Gerzofsky during a May 13 public hearing before the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development. It was also opposed by the Department of Economic and Community Development, whose commissioner, George Gervais, sits on the MRRA board.
On Wednesday, the House voted 88-55 to support the bill, but the Senate voted 30-5 on Thursday against it.
Gerzofsky said Thursday that the bill is “very bad public policy,” and alleged that the debate is now personal.
“I think politics played more of a role in the House, and that was too bad,” Gerzofsky said. “In the Senate it was more about policy — it was a policy-driven debate, and policy-driven vote … in the Senate we’re a little bit more deliberative, but also, we have more people who have served and who have watched the redevelopment effort over the years.”
But Daughtry said there was no debate in the Senate, and argued that the current configuration involves “taxation without representation” by the host communities.
“We won on policy in the House,” she said.