Having lived in Minot almost all my life, I am frustrated with consolidation. This year's school budget is what happens when "we the people" lose direct control.
The "people" have said "no" to Regional School Unit 16's budget three times. Why can't a superintendent earning more than $100,000, or a principal earning more than $80,000, empathize with community residents who struggle to pay for groceries, gas, heating oil and mortgages? As General Assistance director for Minot, I see their struggles every day.
According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, the average income for Androscoggin County in 2011 was $35,455. Many seniors are trying to live on $10,000 to $20,000. Families have gone from two incomes to one because of lost jobs.
Property taxes aren't just on homes. There are farmers, excavators, loggers and residents with open land tracts. Their taxes per acre add up fast.
School administrators still want salary increases. The superintendent said at the last budget meeting that Auburn teachers earn $10,000 more per year than RSU 16 teachers. According to the Maine Department of Education, Auburn's average teacher salary last year was $44,799.94. The RSU 16 teacher salary averaged $46,098.73. That doesn't include benefits.
While we try hard to control municipal budgets, we hear school officials say they have no choice but to increase spending or cut sports. Sports keep our children active and in good health, instead of watching TV.
The people are not asking for cuts; they are asking for no increases and to not spend what they cannot afford.
Eda P. Tripp, Minot
Selectman and General Assistance director