I once again note the continuing code of silence surrounding the issue of Waterville’s tax-exempt load. No plan from civic leaders or the Morning Sentinel in particular to even mention this issue. Just more gushing about Colby’s plan to redevelop downtown in its own likeness.

Here are the facts: The city has 13 square miles. When roads and sidewalks are excluded, fully one-third of the city is tax-exempt. This situation is bad economics for us and grossly unfair to those who must pay to make up the lost revenue.

Orono is home to the state university and only a few square miles larger. The University of Maine pays the town of Orono $655,471 per year in lieu of taxes. It is in UMaine’s budget.

While I have no expectation of our largest non-payers doing the same, there are potential solutions and they are all at the legislative level. But nothing can begin without a public conversation to identify the issues and what approaches might work.

The current code of silence is a wall preventing us from even looking at the largest of our problems. It is, of course, still the 800-pound gorilla in the room.

Stephen Aucoin


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