This is a response to Chris Rancourt’s letter, “Raising city taxes is not a real option.” Last year’s property tax turmoil was largely the result of the first update to property valuation in 25 years. The mil rate went down and property taxes were changed for many, including some increases, as a result of the change in property valuations. The actual city budget and spending did not change much from the preceding year. Rancourt may not like the spending decisions, but spending is not out of control. The reduction in revenue sharing is the reason for the current need to increase the property taxes. This is a decision made by the state. For the 30 years prior to 2009, revenue sharing of state income and sales taxes with municipalities was 5 percent. Since 2009, the rate has decreased to 2 percent.

Waterville has done a good job of cutting spending and controlling costs. At this point, real damage will be done if the budget is not increased. The superintendent is correct. If your budget is frozen and your fixed costs (salary, insurance, utilities, etc.) increase by 6 percent, then you have to cut your discretionary spending by 6 percent.

Now is not the time to cut the school budget. We need to invest in Waterville to support the revitalization of downtown.

Rancourt chastised the school board for not moving to close the Hall School to save money. But we need to evaluate if this is the best move for the public. Closing a local school is a big deal. There will be short-term costs to the city and school system before any operational savings are seen. That decision should be made in the context of a long-term plan for the school system that has been coordinated with the school board, the city government and the public.

Scott Beale