It’s time to pay attention to what the politicians at all levels of government are doing. I have the strangest feeling that local, state and federal budgets will be depleting what little money we have left in our wallets.

I will start at the federal level because they deal with trillions, which makes millions seem insignificant. Of course, the sad part with the federal government is that it is operating practically on a month-to-month budget because members of Congress cannot come together to solve our nation’s financial problems. We did avoid, if one wants to call it that, the so-called fiscal cliff but the bungee cord that saved us is about to snap.

We are now facing a fiscal cliff that is trillions of dollars high. It is a national debt of $16,445,844,756,120 and growing every second, and the United States hasn’t paid one penny toward it.

All we are doing is paying more and more interest while going deeper into debt and unless spending is seriously curtailed in Washington, Congress will once again attempt to raise the debt limit or the United States will not be able to pay its bills. That is, unless they print more money, which could add to inflation.

On a simple level, it would be like us making 58 cents and spending a dollar. Obviously, we would never get ahead. Soon the largest tax increase in American history could hit us in the form of ObamaCare, which I will not call the Affordable Health Care Act because it’s going to rob Peter to pay Paul. Paul will be happy but I guarantee you Peter will not be. I won’t even go into what it would take to finally have a national budget.

I consider the Town of Windham and RSU-14 School (Windham and Raymond) budgets to be tied together with the state of Maine budget. I say that because the present proposal for the upcoming state budget makes serious cuts in state subsidies to municipal and school budgets. Actually it’s hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies. Now this is just the governor’s proposal and I am certain what comes out of the state legislature will have a much different face on it.

Maine has a serious budget shortfall even before one considers the $500 million or so that the state owes to Maine’s hospitals. I wouldn’t even want to know what would happen if we operated our finances like that and unfortunately, some people do.

It will be one of those years where the state officials blame the local officials for raising taxes and the local officials will do the same to the state officials. In either case, one or the other is going to propose a very significant tax increase on us. It’s too early to even guess how the state and local budgets will be finalized, but this is a year where everyone should pay close attention.

We also will get hit by a double whammy because prices on everything seemingly increase on a weekly basis. What gets me is that shopping is exactly like paying for government. We continuously get less while paying more. And, for Windham, I predict it is time to get ready for some serious sticker shock on our property tax bills and it wouldn’t surprise me to see some kind of increases in fees and taxes at the state level as well.

In Windham, I sense an increase of somewhere between $2 to $5 in the property tax rate if things continue the same way in Augusta. I know fully well that cuts will be announced in things like school sports programs and the town library will only be open two days a week. That’s the politics of getting people riled up to support an increase in local spending. And Windham is a town with a population of 17,000 and it only has a part-time town office. Where oh where does all the money go? I’ll save that for future columns.

Lane Hiltunen, of Windham, wonders when we will no longer afford to live in Maine.


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