WATERVILLE — Mayor Paul LePage bid the city of Waterville farewell Tuesday night, just hours before he was to be inaugurated Maine governor.
LePage had just presided over his final City Council meeting, saying he would submit his letter of resignation to City Manager Michael Roy, effective midnight Tuesday.
“The reason it’s midnight is I always like to go to the last minute,” LePage said, to laughter.
About 40 city officials, councilors, department heads and friends attended the meeting.
“It’s been a pleasure to serve the city of Waterville,” LePage said. “It’s bittersweet, leaving.”
After receiving a standing ovation, LePage reflected on his seven years as mayor and as a city councilor before that.
“I think we’ve done a lot of good; I wish we could have done more,” he said.
He then cautioned taxpayers to be frugal after he is gone.
“I really urge the citizens of Waterville not to go crazy on spending in the next couple of years,” he said. “I say this because not only is it unwise, but I will say this: Our federal government is in dire, dire debt. Our state government is in dire debt.”
The governor-elect said he and others have been working the past couple of weeks to develop a supplemental budget and there is no way to make it work without major cuts.
“There are deficits everywhere,” he said. “Red ink everywhere. If you are not cautious, you will be facing red ink in the city of Waterville.”
In his parting comments, LePage invited people to visit him in Augusta.
“I bid you farewell,” he said. “I’m only 20 minutes down the road. You’re all welcome to visit. We are going to have a very transparent administration and the door is always open. Thank you so much.”
Asked after the meeting if he was ready for Wednesday’s inauguration, LePage said he was – nearly.
“I’ve got to go home and write a speech,” he said.
That speech, he said, would be about everything he has been talking about for the past 16 months. LePage said the more business-friendly Maine becomes, the more tax revenue the state would collect.
“Profits, profits, profits. It’s very necessary to build our tax base in Augusta.”
City Manager Michael Roy said later that Tuesday night marked a big transition for the city.
“Paul has been a very, very active mayor and when I first came here, he was chief administrative officer and he very willingly allowed me to do my job as the administrator back then,” he said.
Councilor Charles “Fred” Stubbert, D-Ward 1, replaced LePage as the councilor representing Ward 1 when LePage became mayor in 2003.
He said the city will miss him.
“Paul’s the kind of guy who knows the material before he takes a position,” Stubbert said. “He researches issues very thoroughly and he was great to work with because he was always prepared. Not too many politicians do that.”