LEWISTON — The School Committee and City Council met with local legislators Monday night to pinpoint issues they would like to see addressed by the Legislature.

Sen. Nate Libby and Rep. James Handy, both of Democrats from Lewiston, attended.

Libby recapped legislative accomplishments from the past two years, including increasing a tax credit for low-income seniors and renters from $900 to $1,200 last spring.

Legislation backed by both associations included lower the age children are required to attend school from 7 to 6; increasing starting teacher salaries in Lewiston from $36,300 to $40,000; and, following a court case in Kentucky that ruled school bus videos as public record, ensuring bus videos had privacy protections similar to a student’s academic record.

Superintendent of Schools Bill Webster raised such issues as antiquated and distracting fire drill laws, time-consuming Maine Educational Assessment tests, and a lack of funds for school health centers.

Issues presented by the City Council included adopting a 1 percent sales tax in Lewiston to bring in $3.7 million more; addressing additional enforcement issues raised by recreational use marijuana; increasing funding for the Androscoggin County Jail; tackling the opioid epidemic; and addressing rampant and sometimes unseen poverty that affects the city.

Mark Cayer, a former three-term city councilor and current chairman of the School Committee, said poverty hinders many planned developments for the city, like economic development.

Large employers won’t come to Lewiston because of the low tax assessment, and despite the potential addition to the workforce immigrants could add, the community in large part is not job-ready, Cayer said.

“We place them in high poverty areas, and they’re stuck there,” he said. “Then we’re poisoning them with lead as well,” he said, referencing the ongoing lead issues the city faces.

“Our schools are inflicted with a high number of students who are not ready to learn because of generational poverty,” Cayer said.

“It seems so big you don’t know what direction to go in, but I decided my direction is to keep banging the drum and try to bring other community members into the picture and start making a meaningful impact on poverty,” he said.

Mayor Shane Bouchard expressed interest in repealing an ordinance that only taxes nonprofits that are worth $1 million or more. Bouchard said 33 percent of Lewiston’s land is owned by nonprofits.

“Some of these nonprofits pay their CEOs $400,000. I think they can afford to pay something besides a stormwater runoff fee. Lewiston deserves that,” he said.

And although the council members applauded the Legislature for addressing lead remediation in Lewiston and Auburn, a document released by the council outlining potential legislative issues estimated the total cost of bringing multifamily housing stock to lead-safe standards would be in the $60 million to $70 million range, an amount the council estimated would lead to landlords abandoning properties at the city’s expense.

Bouchard also expressed interest in changing the Lewiston Auburn Lead Grant Program to include properties in flood zones.

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