t’s time to shrink government at all levels including Windham, Cumberland County, the state of Maine and especially in the District of Columbia.

Actually it’s sad to say that our nation’s capital was once known as the murder capital of the entire planet, which kind of gives me the feeling that’s why our country has the problems that we face today.

Perhaps one the biggest jokes was the Paperwork Reduction Act where the federal Office of Management and Budget created the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to reduce paperwork for both the government and public. This sounds good but one of the first things created was more paperwork as all federal agencies had to obtain a control number for each new form and then submit paperwork to authorize that form and then resubmit paperwork every three years to continue the use of that form. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I don’t want to dwell on Washington but just take a look at the present cost of oil including gasoline, diesel fuel and home-heating oil. The U.S. Department of Energy was formed after President Jimmy Carter signed the legislation on Aug. 8, 1977 because there was an oil crisis.

I have two suggestions for shrinking the size of state government in Maine. The Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority needs to be combined immediately. It is now obvious that the board that oversees the MTA failed to control the frivolous spending of hundreds of thousands of dollars by the director and maybe even the staff. Some say that there will be a problem with obtaining bonds for road and bridge repair and to me that’s the best part of the consolidation. Road and bridge repairs should be an integral part of the MDOT budget instead of putting a financial gorilla on the wallets of our children.

It is also time to shrink the size of the Maine Legislature but I don’t go for doing away with the Senate. Checks and balances are needed in order to prevent one group from overwhelming us with their wants instead of needs.

It’s also time to look at consolidating law enforcement at all levels in Maine. We have so much duplication of effort under the disguise of local control that is costing all taxpayers millions of dollars. We have multiple police chiefs, dispatch centers and patrol coverage of the same areas, which is absolutely stupid. Will consolidation remove a large number of law enforcement officers from employment? My answer might surprise you because I believe all consolidation would remove is a whole lot of chiefs and leave the Indians to do what they do best. Of course, it wouldn’t be easy phasing in retirements and so forth, but it could be accomplished. Why is it necessary to have local police, county sheriffs and state police?

When it comes to Windham, I see some departments that are run effectively while others need vast improvement. We should combine the Public Works Department with the Parks and Recreation Department, which is something many communities do now. I also believe that it is time to combine some services like fire and rescue with all neighboring communities to eliminate many of the more expensive positions like chiefs. Many services (school buses and road repair) could be done by subcontracting the work to private companies. The same could be done for snow removal. I also believe that much more could be saved by consolidating more schools into the present school unit system but just make sure the upper echelon is removed instead of transferred to another position with the same salary.

We who live in Windham are facing a property tax hike under the proposed school and municipal budgets. There is no doubt that many citizens in Windham are facing problems trying to make ends meet. Next year there will be an increase in the Medicare B fees so people living on Social Security will be receiving less money and yet there are proposed salary increases for teachers. Doing away with car inspections (only 15 states do it) and having a multiple-year period of time on vehicle registrations would help the average citizen survive financially.

Lane Hiltunen doesn’t know how much longer he will live in Windham.


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