LEWISTON — Ward 5 City Council candidate Blaine Linton is ready to start making choices for the city.

Linton, who is hoping to unseat Kristen Cloutier, said some things need to go.

“All at once, we want it all, but we don’t want our property taxes to go up,” he said. “We want better housing, we want to invest in the downtown, we want our emergency responders covered and our education covered. It’s an impossible thing to do.”

Linton compared it to a household budget: We need to find ways to increase our revenues, but we also need to reduce our costs.

“We have to cover our necessities,” he said. “The biggest necessity for me is to invest in education. I’d like to see the other things that may be beautiful and great ideas but they don’t contribute to the economy. I’d like to see those things reduced until we can afford them.”

He puts arts programs and public art in that category.

Cloutier is happy with the way councilors have handled the budget: reducing debt, trimming where possible and looking to taxes as a last resort. The goal now needs to be finding ways to do what needs to be done without hiking taxes.

“There is not a lot we can trim in the budget, so we need to start thinking creatively around economic development issues,” she said. “We need to find ways to provide jobs to people and find ways to invest in the local economy.”

She doesn’t think the city can count on help from Augusta.

“We’d love to be able to bank on revenue-sharing, but every year I get an ulcer worrying about it,” she said. “The governor says he’s going to cut it and it eventually does come through, but it’s never as much as we were promised.”

That’s why the city needs to find better ways to raise that money, either through bringing in new business or finding other revenues.

“We’ve become reliant on revenue-sharing,” she said. “In some ways it has been promised to us, but if the state is going to pull it away from us, we need to be able to find other ways to raise that money.”

One option is the paid trash collection program in which city workers collect curbside trash in special bags only. She thinks the ultimate decision should be up to voters, but the city needs to get good information out before that happens.

“I think some people have come to conclusions without having the information at this point,” she said. “That’s why it’s so important to get it out there. I think this is something we’ll be talking about for a long time before we implement anything.”

Linton said he likes the idea but not the way it’s being implemented. He said it might not be necessary if people knew that recycling actually helped the city financially.

“If I put out my recycling bin, I’m helping the city financially and I think it’s sad that people don’t realize it,” he said. “How can we send that message more directly?”

As for downtown housing, both candidates said they need to find ways to work with landlords and tenants.

“The demolitions were the right things to do at the time, up to this point,” Cloutier said. “Now we’ve done enough and we need to think about next steps.”

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Election guide

Learn about more candidates and issues in our Election 2015 guide at www.sunjournal.com/election/2015.


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