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Bangor tax questions
One recent morning, I was enjoying one of the simple pleasures in life, having a cup of coffee and reading the Bangor Daily News. My feeling of pleasantness quickly dissolved when I read the article with our city assessor referring to the local property owners being responsible for more of the tax burden.
I understand that the COVID situation has caused a great disruption in the revenue stream related to our city’s operation. I am curious if the city officials have given any thought to the many property owners who are retired with no ability to adjust income. I have to ask where these individuals can go for relief of the increase in property tax. Anyone got the answer?
I am also curious if our city leaders have ever addressed the possibility of the review of tax-exempt property in our fair city. It seems to me that during these trying times our churches and medical facilities and the many other tax-exempt facilities should be standing up for the citizens that provide the income for them to operate.
My suggestion is that the tax-exempt property be assessed and that a percentage of the assessed value be paid as a courtesy to the city for all that has been given to them in the past and in the upcoming years. Tax-exemption in my mind has outlived its usefulness and it is time for all to stand up for the health of our society and pay for the things that our city provides us.
It is not always right that it appears city leaders’ first thought is to keep dipping their hands in the homeowners pocket whenever something doesn’t go quite right. These times call for proactive actions. Be innovative and stretch the norms of the past.
In Washington and Hancock counties it is not easy to travel for regular appointments and the great advantage of telehealth has been demonstrated during the pandemic. This does not replace face-to-face services when feasible, but greatly expands the availability of mental health services in our area.
As state and national public health emergency declarations end, psychologists and their patients have concerns that the current telehealth expansions will expire, and many insurance providers will terminate this important coverage. Telehealth boosts patient access to mental healthcare, which will help Maine meet increased mental health needs prevalent in society today. Allowing coverage and reimbursement of video and audio-only (telephone) telehealth services provides important overall healthcare and addresses the inequity problem that lower income families and older patients face, especially if transportation issues are a barrier to accessing in-person services.
I urge support for L.D. 791 that requires that reimbursement rates for telehealth services by private insurers must be at the same rate as for in-person services.
Tragic and terrifying
According to a recent poll, 15 percent of Americans believe that our government, media, and financial institutions are controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles who lead a global sex trafficking operation. That’s about 30 million people. Twenty-five percent of Americans, and 53 percent of Republicans believe that the presidential election was stolen from Donald Trump. Fifteen percent believe that true patriots may need to resort to violence to set things right.
This is both tragic and terrifying. The QAnon controversy is tearing families apart. But the impact on our country is even worse. How can we continue as a democracy if a substantial number of citizens no longer trust certified election results and are willing to resort to violence?
This calls for more than people shaking their heads and referring umpteen times a day to the “Big Lie”. A more substantive response is needed. I propose that current Maine Secretary of State Shenna Bellows and former Secretary of State Matt Dunlap reach out to each of the 16 Republican County Chairs, and offer to meet with Republicans in their county who believe that the election was stolen. They should listen seriously to every concern and address each one — either on the spot, or after some research.
While they would know exactly how the Maine elections were handled, they wouldn’t necessarily have quick answers for every state’s process. If they do this and feel it was time well spent, they should take the next step and recommend to election officials in the other 49 states that they do the same. It’s not a cure, but at least it’s a start.