I thank those people who were present or viewed the merger debate in Lewiston on Thursday, Sept. 14, but feel a need to clarify a comment I made that, on the surface, is factually incorrect and requires more explanation than I could offer in the 60 seconds given.

Eugene Geiger indicated a new school in Auburn would be 100 percent paid for by the state and I countered with 90 percent and the remaining 10 percent being city debt. While it is true the state pays 100 percent, that amount is limited to certain items and conditions, and when a community wishes to add on other items, that debt is carried by the community. High schools tend to see more of these add-ons due to local needs and wishes.

To give some comparison, Lewiston in FY18 has school debt of almost $82 million, but only $75 million will be reimbursed by the state. Thus, Lewiston is responsible for 7 percent of that debt, as well as any administrative requirements to process and maintain the bond.

Given the desires expressed by the community and school planners, it is highly likely that some share of the debt will be carried by Auburn taxpayers directly through property taxes, while the remainder will be carried by all Mainers through income and sales taxes collected.

Saying the money “comes from the state” does not mean it is free.

I apologize if my words were misleading or incorrect.

Robert Reed, Lewiston

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