On Nov. 7, Winslow will be voting on a school bond that could have a profound effect on our community for years to come. I would like to take a few moments to discuss some of the issues involved. But first, let me state that the following opinions are mine alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of other council members.

There are two outcomes that I hope take place after the votes have been counted. First, it is imperative that we have a good turnout. This is an important decision, one that should be made by as many residents as possible. I look forward to Winslow leading Maine in voter turnout.

Secondly, I think we all hope that the margin of victory, either for or against, is sufficient to leave no doubt as to the next step. In short, the council needs to see a clear path forward.

Regardless of the outcome, I can assure you that the council and the school board will work hand in hand to carry out the wishes of the voters. If the bond fails, we will immediately begin to explore all options for an alternative plan. If the bond passes, we are prepared to do everything within our power to lessen the impact on property taxes, just as we have always done.

I believe the actions that take place in Augusta will impact your tax bill far greater than the bond in question. I think it is safe to say that the property tax increase last year could have been avoided if your elected officials in Augusta had been more prudent with the state budget. Their failure to restore state revenue sharing to the mandated 5 percent, along with the reduction in the compensation for the Homestead Exemption, created a hole in our budget too big to fill without a property tax increase.

To be perfectly clear, I am not placing blame on any one party, or with either branch of the state government. In this case there truly is enough blame for all to share.

In closing, I would like to make a very important observation. I have found people to be very passionate about this issue. That is a good thing. However, it can, and has, led to some hard feelings. There are many valid points on both sides of this bond question, whether it is the desire to provide the next generation with a quality education or the concern over rising property taxes. When people are looking for a community to call home, a quality school system, along with a reasonable mill rate, both play major roles in the decision.

At the public informational meeting on Oct. 3, I noticed how the young adults in attendance were watching, listening, and learning. Perhaps we can use this issue as a civics lesson. Let us demonstrate to them how a representative democracy works.

While we are at it, we can also show them what civil discourse looks like.

Steven C. Russell is chairman of Winslow Town Council.

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