Maine is a large state off the beaten path loaded with unique small towns.
Over 100 communities in Vacationland struggle daily with increasing costs to keep the lights on, doors open and to stay out of the spending red ink. To preserve the special character of each Maine town faced with the same financial challenges.
When local, county and state governmental services overlap, the small Maine town does not have the luxury of ignoring duplication.
But due to the fierce independent nature of small Maine towns, brainstorming for new ways to work together for the same end result done more efficiently can be a touchy subject. And there are road blocks to who has what role in the implementation of the new and improved approach to remove slack and meet legal mandates, obligations for safe level of services.
Take law enforcement in a typical small Maine town. Where crime is 46th lowest in the state of Maine compared to the rest of the nation. If state police budgets are strained, when county government spending is threatened with needed tax increases and local town departments continually scrabble to find additional cost saving measures, all share a similar mission to serve and protect. But within a certain size collective budget. Joining forces to avoid overlap, duplication of services is critical for the survival of the small Maine town way of life.
Not exactly titillating Maine newspaper reporting fodder to carve out an ongoing space in the newsprint or a segment on a local broadcast to cover.
Just like Maine school budgets. But crucial for improving the bottom line spending in a small Pine Tree state town. And when already being done, don’t keep it a secret for the morale of the local Maine town taxpayers. Who easily could jump to the conclusion there is waste a foot in departments where the local hire wears a gun and a badge. Or administers the reading, writing and arithmetic life skills.
What is already being done by the three layers of governmental agencies toward the goal of saving money but together providing the same or better level of service is big local news. If a headline read “Local Maine gas guzzling police cruisers turned off, left in park”. And the story went on to explain that video cameras around the small Maine town streets being monitored at HQ for anything fishy. And when a call comes in, or something looks out of place, the cruiser is dispatched. Not roaming up and down the streets the old fashion wear and tear on equipment way. But using the portal already opened and streaming on Maine town traffic light intersections.
And speeding not longer hit or miss with radar in a cruiser in the right place at the right time. Technology allowing rock solid evidence you went through an intersection at three digits caught digitally and no way to wiggle out of it on a technicality in the after the fact process. Uncovered by a local legal beagle to get you off removed and clogging over burdened court dockets. You were speeding, pay the fine, ease up on the lead foot simple.
And a series of small adjustments generated with suggestions from folks within the every town, county, state government departments sought out and implemented.
Like in the small Maine town schools, what is the bunker oil guzzling class room temperature in the dead of winter? And maybe Jimmy and Jane have to wear more than a t-shirt to avoid being too cool in school. When the temperature is 68 and not 74 degrees. And each degree racketed down translates into thousands of tax payer dollars.
Or Maine school superintendents are a shared resource, not full time. Same with town managers. Two days a week here, one day a week there. And only a phone call, email away for a question that comes up for greater efficiency. With video conferences to keep up with changes in the fast moving field of education that is no different than any industry today. That needs to be lean and mean to survive and be highly effective. Stay afloat.
Ways to save money, it’s what frugal Mainers do in their own households constantly. And should not be lost in what happens in running municipal, state, county facilities. It’s not being cheap, it’s survival and how property taxes keep from being raised higher and higher. Which chokes the economy of everyone, small business to individual alike in the small Maine town. Threatening the small Maine town way of life natives enjoy but fear losing.