Monday, March 2, 2015

LOYALTY OR COMMUNITY? ---- by Larry Fillmore


This is the situation that faces each and every member of the Town Council.  Councilors are elected by the people to make major decisions that affect the community.  The people are relying on each councilor to vote what is best for the community and not a hidden agenda of their own.  In a perfect world, this is the way it is supposed to work.

Previous councils have proven that councilors voted to support loyalty instead of doing what is best for the community and the people who elected them.  Loyalty is a strong emotion that cannot be easily dismissed.  

Aside from a few councilors on the present Town Council, this is an excellent council who has managed to put the community first on the majority of votes.  However, there is an area that has been a political nightmare for everyone and that is the Police Department budget.  Previous councils and this council are extremely reluctant to make any cuts to the Police Department for whatever reason.  Councils have no remorse cutting every other department on the municipal side.

An option that no council or councilors has looked into is the possibility of outsourcing the Police Department to the County.  This is an option other towns have taken to save money and it has worked very well, such as Standish.  So the real question is why has our Town Council NOT looked into this as an alternative solution?  Not looking into ALL options is truly an injustice to the people and to our community.

Lisbon currently pays more than $500,000.00 tax dollars to the County for services.  The taxpayers are supporting a redundant service by paying close to an additional $300,000.00 for the operation of the Communication Center which can be provided by the County.  The town would have to pay for ONLY the service it uses above the current County tax.  Androscoggin County Dispatch receives directly all 911 calls and can dispatch Police, Fire and Medical from that location instead of having to relay the information to our Communication Center to dispatch First Responders.  This puts our lives at risk and for what?  This is another area where loyalty comes before the best interest of the community.

Now let’s look at the roll the Town Manager plays in this.  The Town Manager works DIRECTLY for the Town Council and must take direction from the Town Council.  Mrs. Barnes is doing an excellent job cleaning up the mess left by the previous Town Manager Stephen Eldridge.  Our current Town Manager is working well with the Town Council on matters pertaining to the municipal side.

In this budget season, it is critical that the Town Council and our Councilors, forget loyalty, and explore all options which are in the best interest of this community and the taxpayers.

Larry Fillmore