Jonathan Crimmins

Jonathan Crimmins

That is one of my oldest sons most repeated expressions. I must hear it from him several times a week. Something is funny, he says it. Something is tragic, he says it. Something odd? You bet, he says it. Every so often, I find myself saying it.

By the time you read my column next week we will know the outcome of the school budget vote. We will also know the results of the new school bond referendum vote.

In years past there would be a group that advocated for the passage of the budget as a “common sense” or “reasonable relief” to school needs. Conversely, there would always be a small, vocal group that opposed increased spending as being too high for the average property owner. This year the norms have been thrown out of the window.

Whatever the reason, a third group has emerged to put a wrinkle in the school budget drama. This new group, lead by a former School Board official, wants the voters of Brunswick to vote “No” on the budget because it is not high enough. Not satisfied with the nearly $16,000 per student budget that is proposed, this new group wants the budget returned to its original number of about $38 million.

As my son would say, “you don’t see that everyday.”

I cannot remember another instance in Brunswick where two sides arguing for different outcomes were arguing for the same election vote. On one hand, some in town asking all of us to vote “No” due to the financial ramifications for those paying property taxes. On the other, some are arguing that we should be all in on spending and vote “No” for a better way.

If this were Metropolis you might say we had entered into Bizarro World.

As it stands right now, the budget that we are voting on this June represents part of a 3 percent increase over last year. This is only for the school budget and the municipal budget. This in no way includes the $40 million price tag that will be part of the new school bond, should that pass at the polls. It has been stated in prior stories that the increase for the new school alone will be about 4 percent.

The increase for the new school would be considered a new normal. It would be with us until we paid off the bond. Additionally, any bonding for the Junior High School, which we have been told is paramount, would be added on top of this bond. For more than a generation, we will be paying for this proposed school.

This makes the dichotomy between both groups that want us to vote “No” so unique. For one there is no ceiling. For the other, no floor. Yet both want the same immediate decision.

One could ask the question as to what end we find ourselves if we vote “No”? At what point will enough money in the budget be truly enough? For those who are advocating a “No” vote to increase school spending, I imagine that they could justify an almost unlimited money stream for the school department. A $40 million budget? A $50 million budget? Within a few short years we will be there.

And what of those who asked us to vote “No” out of a feeling of responsibility? If they have not moved they will keep up the chorus of concern. Concern that others out there, not living in a gilded age, will be able to stay in town.

Brunswick has always been a place where young and old could live side by side. Where those who were wealthy, modest or of limited means could all share the community. Let’s hope that continues and we can all enjoy the fruits of our labors.

At some point even a small level of restraint will need to be empowered. Maybe it will be the Town Council? Maybe it will be everyday citizens? Whenever that day comes, hopefully there will be people in town to see it.

By next Wednesday some of us will be shedding tears of joy and some of us will be shedding tears of remorse. The only real winner will be whoever manufactured the tissues we are all drying our eyes with.

That’s my two cents…

Jonathan Crimmins can be reached at j_ [email protected]

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