Category Archives: Opinion

What does that tax rate include?

|Peter Bragdon, NG Budget Committee Vice-chair/ Acting Chair|
* Editors’ note: We reached out to Peter for a clarification of the increase in the tax rate for this year. Here’s his response.

As most of you are aware, last year was a challenging year for the town budget process and the tax rate went up.  Was it 6.9% or 20+%?

Without having the exact number in front of me, I am confident in stating the town’s portion of the tax bill went up a little over 20%.  Your tax bill as a whole saw an increase of 6.9% Why the difference?  The majority of your tax bill goes to the school system, over 70% in fact. A little over 20% goes to the town and small portion goes to the county, around 4%.  When you average the increases of the school department, the town and the county together, that is where the 6.9% increase came from.  Still, a 20% increase on the town portion was significant.  Apply a 20% increase to your household budget all at once; it’s not something that is recommended.  It is certainly not something that can happen again this year, or at least in my opinion it shouldn’t. 

For every $1,000 value of your house you pay $16.90 in taxes.  An average $250,000 house will pay $4,225 this year as opposed to $3,950 last year and $3,365 5 years ago, yielding an increase on that same house of $860 since tax year 2013.

Indigenous Peoples Day

|Debra Smith|
Last April, Governor Mills signed into law a bill changing the name of the holiday known as Columbus Day to Indigenous Peoples Day, in recognition of the native people who resided in Maine and across the continent before Europeans’ arrival. Maine joins many other states in making this change. Read about the enactment of this law here.

As a New Gloucester resident for nearly 40 years, and a descendent of one of the families who lived in the Blockhouse, I believe this change is important. The Gloucester (MA) residents who laid claim to New Gloucester under a grant from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in the mid-1700’s saw the Abnaki people who dwelled here as “savages.” In their view, the native people impeded their goal to establish farms, a church and community to support their families as available land further south in Massachusetts coastal communities became scarce. This was happening in the towns around us as well: Gray was New Boston, Raymond was New Beverly and Windham, New Marblehead. It’s important to recognize that the history of people’s occupation of this beautiful place reaches back more than ten thousand years.

In my opinion: Following the rules…

| by Peter Bragdon |

I wanted to take the time to follow up on last night’s selectmen’s meeting when I spoke to them about following the rules, aka the Fire and Rescue Ordinance.

When I address the selectmen I try not to be negative.  I agree with a lot they are doing and see good progress. Last night unfortunately wasn’t so positive.

In 2003 an ordinance was adopted to govern our Fire and Rescue Department. There was a recent attempt to change Fire and Rescue to the Public Safety Department. This measure failed at the June special town meeting.  

In my opinion, by this measure failing it voids the job descriptions the management developed as the Public Safety Department. These were accepted with the intent that the new ordinance would pass. The department recently used these new descriptions to hire a Deputy Chief out of Lewiston. Still a clear violation of either the old or new job description as it says officers must have a maximum 15-minute response time to the center of town, which I was told is the Church Rd/Chandler Mill intersection.

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In my Opinion: The importance of property tax relief for seniors

Laura Jane Sturgis

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I was in favor of the tax relief program for seniors in our town and was very disappointed when it was defeated by only four votes.  There are many seniors, I am sure, who live in our town and struggle with paying their real estate taxes.  While they live in their own home, circumstances in their lives have limited their savings, including living on a fixed income.  If they are teachers and widowed, they receive not a penny from their spouse’s social security.  Often they still have mortgage payments to meet as well as the upkeep on their homes.  I highly doubt that people who have plenty of assets would be applying for the tax relief.  At the meeting, I noticed that many of the people who attended and voted against the article were people who are financially very comfortable.  There was an income, age and residence requirement stipulated in the proposal.  It gave reasonable perimeters that seniors had to meet. 

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In my Opinion: Property tax assistance should be for low income people of all ages

Carl Wilcox

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Before I left to go to the June special town meeting, my wife told me I would be treated as an ogre for speaking against the Property Tax Assistance Ordinance that would have helped residents at least 70 years old who have household incomes of no more than $40,000 and have lived in town for at least 10 years.

It failed by a vote of 25-21. 

And sure enough I was portrayed at the meeting and in a newspaper article afterwards as a heartless person after old people.  My issue is not with helping old people, but instead that poor people, regardless of age, should be considered for property tax relief.

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On senior tax relief and public safety: the importance of process and communication

From the Editors

(4 of 4)

The desire of the Board of Selectmen to provide some property tax relief to New Gloucester seniors was commendable, but the way that this came together was unfortunate, resulting in a failed vote at the recent special town meeting on June 19.  This was the second time a tax relief proposal had come before the voters, the first having been withdrawn by the Selectmen at the regular town meeting in May.  An ordinance combining the town’s fire and rescue departments into one public safety department and clarifying its organization and status might make sense, but it also failed.

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The Final Summary…

Peter Bradgon, Candidate for Selectman

Tuesday you will have the opportunity to elect two new members to the board of selectmen. This day could change the board significantly. I have tried my best to reach out to the townspeople with my view points and what I would do as selectman. I have compiled a summary outline of the areas I want to work on. Please note, I really care about New Gloucester; I have no intentions of changing what we have as a town or our government. We should always be looking at ways we can do better. 

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Your Past Doesn’t Define You or Your Future

Peter Bragdon  Candidate for Selectman

As I have promoted communication and transparency throughout this road to the election, I want to touch on recent tactics by others to cause alarm about my blunders in life.   I wanted to take time to explain that what happened 10 years ago doesn’t define me today or my future.

I realized after many surgeries and being prescribed my first opiate at age 14 I was dependent. Well, actually I was addicted to my prescribed dose of 240mg of oxycodone daily.   At the time the pain pills defined me.  It defined me as a not-so-good person.  I realized that after making awful mistakes, pills were awful for me.  I stopped the pills myself.  I eventually replaced the pills with alcohol. I drank my pain away.   Obviously this ruled my life. It made me make decisions and take actions that I am ashamed off.  

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A Selectman is More than a Policymaker

Peter Bragdon – Candidate for Selectman

In my opinion, town selectmen are more than just policymakers. They set the tone in town. As selectman, I feel I could offer a positive vibe for our community.

I also feel that selectmen visibility and casual accessibility should be increased, and I promise to show up around town! I understand that everyone is very busy. I also understand that it is not a requirement as a selectman to do any more than the administration stuff.  But with that said, among the five elected officials there could be more presence at community events.

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Reasons and Timeline for a Town Charter

Third in a series of articles about town charters by John Salisbury

Why should the Town of New Gloucester approve a Charter Commission to draft a town charter?

The most compelling reason is “local control.”  Many have probably heard this term bantered about.  Local control is to a great extent a mirage for towns that have not adopted a municipal charter.  This is because towns that do not have a charter only have limited options provided by the state statutes for determining their town governing and management structure. 

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