The building boom that is happening in Westbrook is too much too quick. The fallout from this building boom is going to trickle down to taxpayers in the need for school upgrades such as at Saccarappa, the middle school, Congin and Canal, as well as services and infrastructure. These upgrades for the schools are going to be in the high millions, surpassing what we just approved for the new Public Services facility.
With these ever-increasing property taxes we are all going to feel the effects of this, especially for seniors on a fixed income and others on a limited income, as our taxes reach a new high. I believe these school upgrade costs should not be rushed to referendum until the city explores all avenues for financial assistance, i.e. the state Department of Education. The following information is about student cost per pupil as listed on the www.governing.com/state-education-spending-per-pupil-data-html. And, it posts the cost per Maine student to be $12,648 after adjusted for inflation. There are other sites on this cost and vary only by a few hundred dollars. It’s something to think about relative to a building boom.
I wonder why the Planning Board has not levied an impact fee on Mr. Risbara, who is building this large development. When any contractor is building multiple houses in Westbrook, in my opinion, they should be paying an impact fee. After all, we are going to feel the full effect of this as taxpayers and they should pay their share. The Blue Spruce development, in my opinion, will be a small city, as Mr. Risbara wants to expand this into more acreage he has purchased. I am sure he is very happy making his trips to the bank and reading his profit sheet.
And, don’t forget, the golf course across the street has been purchased by another investor and who knows what they will want. The city has other small developments that have sprung up as well that have added costs to the city.
We as taxpayers should not shoulder all the expense of housing being built by contractors in Westbrook and feel the effects on our property taxes. They need to show good faith and help the taxpayers of Westbrook and accept an impact fee.
There’s also talk that Catholic Charities will be relocating some 500 people to southern Maine, including to Westbrook. Whatever happened to having sponsors for these people and just not dumping them on the doorsteps of local taxpayers? This is yet another impact on our schools, and the General Assistance money we now spend is a staggering amount. We get 70 percent back from the state, but administration costs are on local taxpayers’ shoulders and two city employees are involved with General Assistance. There needs to be a limit on what a city can spend depending on population, wealth and growth costs. Some cities have a Workfare program that allows those capable to work for pay, but the Westbrook city administrator and community center director say it is too costly to implement. To my knowledge, Portland, South Portland and Lewiston have this program. Months ago, one immigrant said in a Sunday Portland paper that he was grateful to Portland for allowing him to work and give back something in exchange for General Assistance. This program encourages individuals to fit into a workplace.