From the beginning announcements of Colby’s intention to remake part of downtown Waterville, I was not the only person who believed they would get what they wanted and on their terms. While this will have a benefit for the downtown, I and many others saw the motivation clearly. Colby had to do this. It is an investment in their future enrollment. It is not a payback. The tax yield on their current projects will come to about $100,000. If the projected boutique hotel is added, we will be up to perhaps $160,000.

Recently, Colby President David Greene acknowledged that many people here see this institution, a very successful business, as the rich folks on the hill calling the shots. People are right. They know that money is power: political, economic and social.

I see this as neither a gift or repayment. If Colby, and Thomas as well, were serious, they might follow the lead of the University of Maine at Orono. Every year, as part of their standing budget, the university pays Orono $655,000. I see this as their statement that they are part of the community.

But even if there is no direct payment, all (yes, all) tax-exempt entitiess have the political power to effect changes in Augusta that would move toward making this city financially whole. Not only full revenue sharing, but also a change in the distribution formula that takes into account the square miles you have and what percent of that is exempt by state law.

I am tired of Waterville being cast in the role of the beggar. I am tired of playing Blanche Dubois, the tragic heroine in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” When asked how she survived, with no job or means of income. she replied: “I have always depended upon the kindness of strangers.”

Stephen Aucoin


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