Belgrade voters should understand that your Select Board voted unanimously on Article 41 to only offer $19,900 and informed these organizations last budget season. We know the town’s overall budget needs and have listened to the taxpayers about keeping taxes down. The board understands there will be yet another increase in the school budget this year. We are looking out for the taxpayer now and in the long term.
The town and its residents have supported and continue to support protecting and preserving all the waterbodies in Belgrade, which are owned by the state of Maine. We have a shoreland zoning ordinance and the voters approve amendments to improve that. We raise tax dollars to pay our code enforcement officer to enforce that ordinance. We have a Planning Board. The state and federal government also work toward protecting water quality. All residents care about the quality of the lakes, but that does not mean that forced donation to a non-profit, non-charitable group by taxation is the right thing to do.
Most know that for many years, economic conditions have been very difficult. here are many of our neighbors who struggle to pay their property taxes. Last year, the town sent out 113 lien notices and foreclosed on two properties. In my travels around Belgrade I have spoken with many residents and observed just how financially poor many are.
When someone uses fear mongering to get money I would be cautious. Milfoil has been in Maine since the 1960s and Belgrade Stream has been infested for decades and property still sells for big dollars. I own 1,600 feet on Belgrade Stream, and I can’t even get that devalued and there is plenty of milfoil. Article 41 is good and it helps them.
Ernest “Ernie” Rice
(Editor’s note: The writer is a Belgrade selectman.)