On Aug. 4, the RSU 16 board held a public “listening session” to give citizens and Budget committee members from each of the three towns a chance to offer ideas as they reassess their next proposed budget.
I commend the Minot, Poland and Mechanic Falls’ school board. Unlike previous meetings, it was the first time that many in the audience walked away feeling that they had been heard. It also allowed some rationalization for previous decisions in a well-facilitated meeting.
Most people left with better knowledge of the impacts of a true “zero tax increase” versus a “zero increase” budget. Citizens are either not aware of, or confusing the two, and there are significant financial impacts of both. I don’t think it had been clearly understood previously.
Most of those in attendance at the Aug. 4 meeting are supporters of the current or an increased budget. People who feel they do not support the current budget were not present and should have been there to receive some valuable information.
Exerting frustration on a ballot behind the curtain is not the answer.
I would hope that the public wouldn't base a vote on the hearsay of others. They should continue to attend the meetings, regardless of how discouraging they may be.
I would highly recommend some due diligence by the voters as this process continues, because many folks are not getting the accurate information needed for an informed vote.
John Hawley, Town Manager