AUBURN – Unveiling his framework of new volunteer boards and committees Monday night, Mayor John Jenkins said he needs volunteers now.
“What I want is for people to find something up here that interests them,” Jenkins said. “But this is all part of our effort to open government, to make it more transparent to everyone and let them all see what’s going on.”
Jenkins called for five community service teams to study problems ranging from planning to land use to tax stabilization. Each group would be populated by volunteers from across Auburn, Jenkins told Ward 4 residents attending Monday’s neighborhood meeting at the Great Falls School.
Jenkins told Ward 5 residents earlier this month that he would create special committees, and asked for volunteers. He went so far as to hand out yellow registration sheets at that meeting, and hoped folks would fill them out and return them to Auburn Hall.
“But we handed out tons of the yellow sheets, and only got one back,” Jenkins said.
Monday night, Jenkins said he wasn’t taking any chances. He brought five sign-up posters for would-be volunteers. There were a few takers by the end of the meeting. About 45 people attended to meet the mayor and question city officials.
Taxes and Auburn’s property revaluation were one big concern. Derek Dube of 24 Fairway Drive said anything the council does might come too late for him.
“My property taxes went up 45 percent last year, and I just don’t see how,” he said. Dube said he was trying to sell his home quickly, to an out-of-state-buyer, before the city raises taxes again.
Councilors said they’d like to schedule a workshop to review Jenkins’ tax reform suggestions.
“You have some ideas that I like and others that I don’t, but I think it’s worth talking about it at public meeting,” said city Councilor Eric Samson.
Jenkins’ plan would put a 3 percent ceiling on city spending and ask legislators to let cities tax capital gains on homes. Property taxes would stay the same from year to year regardless of changes in the real estate market. The city would only get more property tax revenues when homes sell.
Rough roads were another big concern Monday. Residents of Garden Circle, off Hardscrabble Road, and Danville Corner Road complained the roads were in desperate need of work.
“I’ve been there since 1941, and I remember when Danville Corner Road was gravel,” said Danville Corner Road resident Mike Gerry. “It was better gravel than it is now.”
Public Works Director Bob Belz said both streets are due for road reclamation work, but it’s an expensive and slow process. That didn’t satisfy Garden Circle resident Mike Cloutier.
“I just think, I’ve paid taxes for 20 years and I’d like to have someone look at it and tell when it can finally be done,” Cloutier said.
Jenkins’ series of neighborhood ward meetings continues next month in Ward 3. He’ll host the meeting at 7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the Auburn Public Library.