Taxpayers should have the loudest voice in Portland’s budgeting. However, we don’t show up to be heard. Last year, 4,038 voted on the proposed school budget, with 890 voting “no.” The prior year’s turnout was 1,479, with 558 “no” votes. Were there blizzards or ice storms? No. It was something worse: apathy. By comparison, about 17,000 (one-third of registered voters) voted last November.

The simple reality is that every unused ballot is a “yes” vote for a larger property tax bill!

A June 12 plurality of “no” votes would force the school board to reduce spending and require another vote. But we can’t expect that outcome if we don’t bother to vote on a budget representing 31 percent of the city’s 2019 combined budget and half of the proposed tax levy.

Although residents vote only on the school budget, our “no” votes will deliver a message, loudly and clearly, that citywide spending is unacceptable. Our “no” votes will substantiate that a $12 million budgeted increase in city spending – $5 million of which is on the ballot – is being challenged. Our “no” votes will jump-start credible action from city officials, but only when this budget gets the ax – preferably by a large margin. Our “no” votes will stipulate that we want to end the spending addictions of our city leadership.

Most Portland retirees and wage earners are being burdened with increased costs for health insurance, prescriptions, heating oil, natural gas and more. They need relief. Our “no” votes will force a lower rate to something less than the projected $22.48 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Despite hyperbole from certain city officials, the proposed $110.6 million school budget is not bare-boned. The next rendition needs to be reasonable, with property owners as a priority.

Please place this letter on your fridge as a reminder to defeat this proposed budget on June 12.

Stephen Kirby

Portland