BENTON — When it comes to managing the town’s finances, the three men running for an open seat on the town’s board of selectmen have different priorities.

The men running for the seat vacated by Ryan Liberty in August are Cecil Bryar, a 58-year-old former auto technician; Daniel Chamberlain, a 46-year-old supermarket manager; and Robert Morrissette, a 78-year old retired business owner.

There are more than two years left on the three-year term.

Bryar said he is running for office because he is sick and tired of seeing what the Republican Party has done in Maine. “I want to change it,” he said.

Bryar said he would work to lower property taxes by the unusual method of petitioning the state.

“When you’re a selectman, you represent the people,” he said. “The selectman has some of the power to go to the state and say ‘drop our taxes.’ What if one selectman got all the communities, all of the selectmen, to sign a statement and told the state to drop property taxes?”

While property taxes are set by individual municipalities rather than the state, the state does have an impact on the town’s overall revenue picture, including with state revenue sharing and requirements that can cost towns time and money to meet.

Bryar said that, if elected, “I’d like to say that I helped keep the bills straightened out and, if I can accomplish it, I’d like to see the property taxes dropped.”

Chamberlain said he is running because he is concerned about changes he’s experienced during a lifetime in Benton, including the loss of a business tax base that has put more of a burden on individual property owners.

Chamberlain said that he would like to reassess town spending to make sure that the town isn’t overpaying for services.

As examples, he pointed to relationships that the town has with Clinton and Fairfield for waste disposal and fire protection services.

“We need those services but let’s take a look at what we should actually be paying,” he said.

Chamberlain said that he would also like to consider cutting funding to charitable causes that the town supports.

“Some I agree with and some I don’t,” he said.

Chamberlain said he would like to add to the tax base by attracting businesses to the town.

“I’m not sure how, but it’s something I want to look into,” he said.

Morrissette said he was running to make the board more visible and open to public participation.

“When I was on the planning board I encouraged people to attend the meetings and take part and express their opinions,” he said. “The present board for the last seven or eight years has discouraged all of that.”

He said that the town has suffered under the current board, which he said has guided the town from a position of financial security to weakness.

“Under the present leadership, the town had to borrow money to operate in the year 2012. It’s the first time the town has had to borrow money in over 20 years. It needs scrutiny,” he said. “To me, that’s not good leadership and I would like to be in a position to express my opinion.”

Morrissette said that the board is too focused on keeping taxes low in the face of a broader financial picture.

“The people in there are so inexperienced that their main goal is to hold taxes down to the very, very bare minimum, which is a great goal but you still have to have money to operate on,” he said.

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287

[email protected]

 

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