2017-02-17 / Opinion

When Was the Last Time … ?

BY GARY SULEY
Oped

When was the last time your elected Town of Brunswick Select Person or your elected Town of Brunswick School Board member contact you? For me, the only time in 25+ years that either of these people have even attempted to communicate with me has been when they were seeking election/re-election. And 99 percent of the time this was through a flyer or postcard mailer asking me to vote for them. Once elected, my representatives just do what they want without asking me what I think. How can this be considered “representation”?

Have you agreed with every decision that the Town Council and the School Board has made? Over the years we have seen our taxes increase every year, we have torn down, given away, and abandoned school after school. We have seen our Police get a new station and the city trade a school for a new town hall.

Two former school buildings have been refurbished and reused (but not by the school department) and one was torn down (old High School) and a new elementary school was built on that site. Now the School Board wants tear down an existing school building (Jordan Acres) and build a new school, not repair an existing school (Brunswick Junior High School), but in 2 years tear it down and build a new junior high school.

Has your elected School Board Representative contacted you to see if you are ready, willing and able to afford all these changes? Has your Town Council Representative contacted you to see if you are ready willing and able to pay for all these projects? If you haven’t been contacted/ asked about this do you feel that you might be being taken advantage of ? I personally do. Let me tell you why ... because if all the above mentioned projects are approved, my property taxes are going to be increasing to the tune of 8-14 percent! I don’t know about you, but I don’t have “an extra $300- $1500” to give to the city for these projects. Be aware that This will be on top of the money the Town will need to close the landfill, the money needed by the Public Works Department for sewers and water treatment upgrades and for a new fire station and the list goes on.

You might ask, why am I singling out the School Board and the Town Council. The School Board must report to the Town a Council. The Town Council must approve the School Board budget. To that I would suggest these two Departments have not taken due-diligence to addressing their issues. This leads back to my opening question, “when was the last time your Town Councilor or School Board Representative contacted you about your ability/willingness to support these issues? Currently, the School Board has several other options they should consider before they seek a bond to the tune of $28,000,000-$60,000,000.

The State of Maine offers “assistance” to School Boards in the form of grants that help fund new schools. The Brunswick School Board has opted not to pursue these funds. Their own Facilities Manager has offered the Hawthorne School for use as a school. The closed Jordan Acres Elementary School can be refurbished and reused and an existing Junior HS could be remodeled and used. But the School Board needs new.

It appears to me that the citizens of Brunswick are being sold out by the School Board and forgotten by the Town Council. We, the citizens of Brunswick are made financially responsible for the actions of these two groups. As citizens of the Town of Brunswick, we have to provide the funds necessary to carry out the projects that keep our town operating. I feel that the citizens of Brunswick need to tell our Representatives that we are not a never ending source for funds for irresponsible management. Tell the Town Council to not approve the School Board Request for a Bond, and tell your School Board that they need to look closer at their resources and take the responsibility for using what they have in a more responsible manner.

Gary Suley lives in Brunswick.

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