Wednesday, October 7, 2015

"The Powers That Be In Lisbon" Quashed Any Tax Reduction For Next Year.

Last night's Town Council Meeting brought out the true "powers that be" in Lisbon. There was a successful concerted effort  to quash the Council's money saving proposal to eliminate Lisbon's dispatching center and go with Androscoggin County Dispatch.

Public Safety Officers came forward  one at a time to spout the same three or four talking points. This routine was broken occasionally by a smattering of civilians that would face business loss if the dispatching went to the County.  It was blatantly obvious that this assault on the Council came from a single source.  Some of the speakers even mentioned they got a call about the possible dispatch closure.

It appeared Chief Brooks was behind this charade.  A couple of the speakers even made reference to the Chief and stopped their speech to asked the Chief questions. When Chief Brooks spoke his disdain for closing the dispatch center bordered on insubordination.  He openly argued against what his superiors were proposing and basically told everyone why they were wrong and he was right.

The following fallacious talking points were hammered time after time again in an effort to miss lead the Council and public into thinking the points were valid.

  • The officers tried to make the case that the 9 11 system was irrelevant. They tried to argue "most people call the non- emergency number when they need emergency help".This is pure nonsense, why would anyone call a non-emergency number when they can just dial the 3 digits that are synonymous with an emergency? Those that made this argument were trying to cover up the FACT that when there is an emergency call it is NOW answered by Androscoggin dispatch and has to go through an additional time consuming step to get back to Lisbon Dispatching before it goes out to our Police Officers. 

  • Another officer threatened the public with no emergency service if we went with the County's  high speed Internet and the Internet service went down.  This is ridiculous the County has backups in place for just such an occasion.  This was scare mongering plain and simple.

  • Some brought up the groups third and possibly most insidious argument that we cant trust Androscoggin Commissioners.  The argument goes like this. "Because we are suing the Commissioners on an unrelated matter they are somehow untrustworthy and cant be trusted to carry out any contract."  We lost three lawsuits that I know of in the last few years. Two to Larry Fillmore and one to the low bidder on the gym, does that mean WE can't be trusted anymore?

  • Another person, affiliated with Lisbon Public Safety, actually argued that because Lisbon Police and Dispatching are so effective, criminals bypass Lisbon and only ply their trade in neighboring communities.   When I heard this the first thing that came to my mind was "Why did it take an outside police agency to discover the drug ring operating on 196 a couple years ago?"  I guess those criminals didn't get the message about bypassing Lisbon.

No one mentioned one of the main reasons for reducing taxes in Lisbon and that is the added business and real estate gains we would see if our taxes were lowered. I am surprised our economic development director didn't bring up these points.  I guess she was also bullied into silence.

It is a shame Lisbon was forced into dropping a plan that would, in Chief Brooks estimate, reduce next years taxes by around $60 dollars.  If the plans opponents recognize this large a savings you can be assured the actual savings would have be much more. Its also a shame that our Council and Town Manager have to play second fiddle to the real power in Lisbon.

If we are going to get any tax reduction next year it won't  be coming from the Public Safety Department.  We will probably see another battle between the Council and School Department over the reduced pot of available tax dollars.

Remember the loud voices against dispatch consolidation are coming from those with  financial interests in keeping the status quo. not from the taxpayers.

Joe Hill

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