I wish that political commentaries by local “activists” would get their facts straight before they complain about municipal budgets. Jim Fossel’s rant that “Tax reform must cut spending” (column, May 7) simply was evidence that he knows little about municipal budgets.

As a very conservative Republican who has been on our Randolph Budget Committee for 30 years, I found that his typical Democrat-bashing approach had little substance in his suggestions about cutting spending at the municipal level. I have no idea whether other members are Republicans or Democrats; it doesn’t matter.

When one recognizes that almost 90 percent of Maine’s 487 towns and cities have less than 5,000 population, we’re doing our best to keep costs down. Does he really think that Maine towns go on “spending sprees”? If revenue sharing gets increased back to where it was formerly, most towns will use it wisely for basic services. More than 90 percent of Randolph’s budget, like other towns, is fixed or non-negotiable. Town Meeting votes govern most town budgets, so we are constantly being responsible to taxpayers. Without proper revenue sharing coming in, the only other main revenue stream is taxes.

If citizens expect snowplowing, decent paved streets, streetlights, sewer systems, fire protection, minimal police protection, ambulance, trash pickup, and other typical services, then we have to pay for those with available revenues. Most towns are not “growing their budgets” — we’re trying to keep our heads above water.

With more money, then we might pave one more street or think about fixing or replacing our 30-year-old fire truck or 100-year-old sewer lines, hardly a spending spree or being irresponsible. We have no fancy schemes and any further cutting is just chewing on bare bones.

Pete Coughlan


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