Halting the projects puts people out of work in Skowhegan, Bath, Belfast, Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Livermore Falls, Monmouth, Norway, Rockland, Unity and Winthrop

By Ramona du Houx

July 20, 2012

Rep. Jeff McCabe, D-Skowhegan, is pressing Governor Paul LePage to release pre-approved bond money the town of Skowhegan was granted to renovate its downtown. Now the project is stalled and workers are not employed.

“The governor is ignoring the will of the people and holding our local economy hostage,” said McCabe, who sent a letter to governor urging him to release the money. “These shovel-ready projects put money into the hands of local contractors and will help employ people in our area.”

LePage put the brakes on the project, which started more than a year ago, when he announced last month that he would delay authorizing the $3.5 million in funds from for the Communities for Maine’s Future bond, which was passed by the Legislature in 2009 and approved by a majority of voters in Nov. 2010.

Governor Paul LePage responded in a note.

McCabe received the governor’s hand-written response dated July 14 recommending the town, “sell bonds to complete the project and the state could provide the funds at some later time.”

“He’s asking the taxpayers of Skowhegan to float the state a loan for a commitment the state has already made with no timeline to pay us back,” said McCabe.

In 2010, the town of Skowhegan signed contracts with the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and began to proceed renovating its downtown. The town has spent nearly $40,000 dollars and has entered into contracts and agreements to secure funding for its portion of the project.

Other communities that are also slated to receive funds to support job creation from the grant include, Bath, Belfast, Dover-Foxcroft, Eastport, Livermore Falls, Monmouth, Norway, Rockland, Unity and Winthrop.

“It is senseless choices like these that have put Maine’s economy in a back slide,” said McCabe. “The small businesses and middle class families in Skowhegan and towns like ours across the state are counting on their Main Streets. We should be supporting our local economies not stunting them.”

Since the governor and the Republicans took office in 2010, Maine’s economy has shrunk.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Maine’s economy was the only one in New England to shrink last year and one of only handful nationwide.