Voters should vote no on the Belgrade Town Meeting warrant article 9. This article proposes that the town increase the property tax burden on its residents to provide a $40,000 donation to help fund projects by several lake associations. There is no doubt that these organizations provide important services. That is not the issue. The issue is whether it is appropriate to use property taxes to provide a forced donation to non-profit, non-charitable organizations.
This is especially of concern since there is an alternative article if Article 9 is defeated. Article 41 provides for the offering of the boat registration dollars (approximately $20,000) to these organizations. The Select Board unanimously supports Article 41; in fact, the board discussed this proposal with these organizations in 2015 when preparing the 2016 budget.
A letter from these organizations attempted to indicate that if Article 9 does not pass, that soon our lakes would be infested with algae blooms and milfoil. Property values would drop. This sounds like fear mongering. Surely fundraising will continue to provide support for their very valuable projects. Since there was no mention of other towns bordering the same bodies of water providing any funding, perhaps those towns would be an additional source of donations.
Variable leaf milfoil has been here since the 1960s. It is nuisance and important to try to control. A real threat that would impact property values is Eurasian milfoil, which was discovered in Salmon Lake in 2008. The state took steps to successfully eradicate it. The issue of algae blooms will continue because of increasing development along the shores, antiquated septic systems, and improper use of fertilizers.
Fact: As reported on Belgrade Regional Conservation Alliance’s 2015 federal tax form 990, salaries, other compensation and benefits were $298,070 in 2014 and in 2015 were $354,478, an 18.9 percent increase.