Bonding for infrastructure improvements is a routine maneuver.

Maine voters have consistently approved bonds for transportation projects, for example, to amortize costs associated with these improvements and secure federal matching funds.

Question 3 on this year’s ballot is no different. It asks voters to approve borrowing $3.4 million – a paltry sum, compared to past bond issues – for water projects, and open up a princely 5-to-1 federal match for every dollar, a total of about $17 million.

Infrastructure investments are nearly always worth the price; given these bond funds are earmarked specifically for wastewater and public drinking water initiatives, there’s little argument against them. Securing clean water and treating dirty water are important. So is maintaining the pipes, pumps and treatment centers that are integral to the process.

We endorse a “yes” vote on Question 3, to approve the $3.4 million in borrowing.

This is a qualified endorsement, however, because of current events.

The bond market has been in upheaval. The state has had trouble finding takers for its transportation bonds, the city of Lewiston has shelved bond plans and entities such as MaineHousing have had to raise interest rates.

It’s a tumultuous time. We hope decision-makers act judiciously with this water bond. We suggest patience with the market; hopefully, it will settle and make for a better borrowing atmosphere.

Also, we’re befuddled as to why this is even a bond issue in the first place. While we understand the system – these new funds would bolster existing revolving loan funds the state maintains – the basics, to us, don’t change.

The state wants us to borrow $3.4 million. Do we have to?

In the grand scheme of the state’s budget billions, $3.4 million is teensy. Could this money have been found in existing lines, perhaps through cuts or efficiencies, rather than resorting to tried-and-true bonding?

While we have no quarrel with Question 3, it occurs to us that depending on credit has inspired a plethora of problems in this nation, because using credit turned routine.

Finding $3.4 million in the state could have been done. In the future, it’s perhaps wiser to pursue funds from within first, instead of the bond market.


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