On Nov. 5, voters will decide on a general bond package that will create jobs and invest in public infrastructure.
One critical bond would provide $14 million in funds for our National Guard armories. It would allow important maintenance, repair, capital improvement, modernization and energy efficiency projects to move forward.
Maine’s armories, officially known as National Guard Readiness Centers, are where the brave men and women serving in our National Guard train for deployment and preparedness. Their important work and dedication to our state does not go unnoticed and for that, we need to ensure that they have safe, up-to-date facilities to work in. These are the service members we rely upon when we face natural disasters or need to protect our nation abroad.
Currently, more than half of the state’s 23 readiness centers are in poor condition, according to Dwaine Drummond, director of facilities and engineering for the Maine Army National Guard.
Maine’s armories are inadequate and this funding would improve their facilities and save money in the long run.
The most significant issue facing Maine’s armories is energy efficiency. Much of the operating and maintenance budget for facilities is spent on heat and utilities. Due to a lack of funding, repairs are only done when absolutely necessary. Some buildings have broken windows; others have asbestos in the floor tiles, and many are lacking insulation.
Without proper insulation, it is very costly to heat these buildings. These inefficiencies cost Maine taxpayers money and are harmful to the men and women who train in them.
Investing in Maine’s armories also means investing in our economy. Restoring the armories would create construction jobs and bring money to the state.
This year, the state’s Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management had a total budget of $6.3 million, and $3.3 million of that went to the Army and Air National Guards, according to Deputy Commissioner Daniel Goodheart. The $6.3 million is down $3 million from five years ago. This lost funding would have gone to critical maintenance repairs. So this bond would go a long way.
The men and women who work and train in these facilities deserve better conditions. The Army National Guard protects our state abroad and at home. Having up-to-date facilities will mean that the guardsmen and women who defend our state are better prepared for when disaster strikes.
Supporting our armories is critical to our state’s protection and will save taxpayers money in the long run.
Rep. John Schneck, D-Bangor, is serving his first term in the Maine Legislature. Schneck is a Vietnam War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy. He serves on the Legislature’s Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee.