Fear and panic settled upon our community, especially among our most vulnerable, those on low and fixed incomes and those with high medical bills, upon receiving the new revaluation. Property taxes increased anywhere from 20 percent to doubling for some Waterville residents, even without home improvements. The new projected mil rate of $24.5 per $1,000 of property value places Waterville as one of the highest taxed cities in Maine, with a trajectory of becoming the highest.

Councilors were bombarded with phone calls and emails from their constituents begging them to reopen the budget. Residents filled the council chamber, pleading with their councilors to further scrutinize the budget. Stories of residents simply not knowing how they were going to pay their medical bills, utilities, prescriptions and food expenses filled city hall. Concerns of decreased property values, along with stagnated growth, permeates the city.

Residents are expected to cut our family budgets, rather than have the city focus on greater departmental efficiencies. One councilor stated, “I’m pretty sure that people are also going to have to move, and that makes me sad.” Councilors, forcing people out of the city is unnecessary and uncompassionate, but it will occur if the budget is not reopened.

I applaud Mayor Nick Isgro, and Councilors Steve Soule and Sydney Mayhew for listening to their constituents and for understanding basic economics. You cannot spend your way out of bankruptcy. It’s time for our city to begin living within our means and accept our demographics. We’re asking the city to make the tougher budgeting decisions that reflect the will of the people and our shrinking family budgets.

Which councilors are prepared to deliver fines, interest payments, property liens or foreclosures on residents who cannot afford these tax increases? Fortunately, a citizens’ petition is circulating to force the city to re-open the budget.

Gary Maheux

Waterville