Thank you for your e-mails and comments regarding the funding of much-needed renovations to four Portland elementary schools.
There is unanimous agreement on the City Council that we need to move forward with the 8-year, $64 million renovation plan for Longfellow, Lyseth, Presumpscot, and Reiche schools. Every councilor understands that when we invest in our kids and our schools, we are investing in a stronger city and a brighter future for everyone who lives here.
The question left to resolve is “how” we best finance the project. The City Council has thoroughly debated two paths.
One path would ask Portland voters to approve the sale of $64 million in city bonds and pay back those bonds by raising the local property tax.
The second path, the 32+32 plan, would seek voter approval to issue $32 million in city bonds while applying for $32 million in state funds. If less than $32 million in state funds are awarded, a second city bond would be sent to the voters for any remaining balance.
Each of these paths will get us to the same end: $64 million in financing to renovate four elementary schools in eight years.
For me the key considerations in making this choice include feasibility; cost to taxpayers; impacts on our ability to fund the 20-year, $320 million all-school construction plan; and the overall effects on Portland’s affordability.
I strongly favor the 32+32 plan because it assures the same outcome with the potential for lower costs and greater long term flexibility. But I also trust Portland voters. And that is why I will be voting to send both the $64 million bond and the 32+32 option to the ballot so Portland voters can decide our path forward.
The amendment to put both options in the hands of the voters will be on the agenda when the council returns to this issue on April 5th. The public hearing and council vote will likely be scheduled for the April 24th council meeting.
We are all agreed on what needs to be done, how much we need to invest, and the construction timeline to which we must adhere. Now it’s time to let Portland voters choose how to achieve our shared goal.
I appreciate the time you took to contact me. As always, your thoughts have informed mine. Please don’t hesitate to be back in touch on this or any other issue of interest or concern to you and your family.