I was very pleased to read former Mayor Anne Pringle’s April 2 Maine Voices commentary. Her questions to city government on resource expenditures for homeless housing and associated costs, in the full scope, are issues our Portland leaders seem to want to avoid.

I know because I’ve asked similar questions. My questions concerned total costs contributed by local taxpayers on all social services expenditures within all departments. I have been asking city administrators, council members and this paper with no response, unless silence is considered a response.

I am not advocating for more or less spending, just a total accounting for the full amount in Portland’s budget and how this compares to a few state and regional municipalities of similar demographics. This is only data collection with public review to assess what is the Portland taxpayers’ “fair share” for social services costs as compared to similar communities.

I don’t know how current city councilors make their decisions: personal preferences, emotions, campaign promises, the loudest voices or sidewalk conversations – all subjective or anecdotal. The last city councilor I knew who was interested in making decisions with research and data analysis as a strong determinant was Jon Hinck.

Does Portland need a citizen committee chaired by Ms. Pringle to start collecting and analyzing data to get overdue answers to her questions?

Robert Kahn


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