Saturday, April 19, 2014
By Joe Lawlor email@example.com
Many people contributed to worthy causes in 2013. Here's six key philanthropists who think locally and give generously here in Maine.
In this May 2012 file photo, Bill Creighton speaks at Waynflete School in Portland. Creighton donates about 75 percent of his income to charity. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer
Bill Creighton of Freeport said he’s motivated to give because he believes that people like him pay too little in taxes. He said the lesson hit home several years ago, when he sold 1.2 acres he owned on Deer Isle – including a sliver of waterfront land – for a six-figure sum. He had bought 36 acres on Deer Isle for $30,000 in 1972.
When Creighton did his taxes the next year, he was “astonished” to find out that he didn’t owe any taxes, despite making a substantial profit from the sale.
“I did absolutely nothing to improve that property,” he said. “Why shouldn’t I at least be paying taxes on it the same as someone who has been going to work every day to earn a living?”
He said he bases his giving on the amount of taxes he should be paying – in his view, 75 percent of his income. He typically donates about $250,000 per year to various nonprofit groups.
He donates to Maine Citizens for Clean Elections, Maine Initiatives, the Preble Street Resource Center and the Maine Center for Economic Policy, and others.
“Mostly what I’m interested in is how to change the system,” said Creighton, who is a political activist and chairman of the social justice nonprofit United for a Fair Economy.
The billionaire investor Warren Buffett has made many of the same points as Creighton, famously pointing out that his tax rate was less than his administrative assistant’s.
Creighton said he has done many jobs over the years, including as a carpenter and a registered nurse, but he has had the luxury of moving from job to job because of the income from family trusts. His family owned a chemical manufacturing business in Massachusetts.
“I’ve never had to struggle. I’ve never had to work a job I didn’t enjoy,” he said.
He lives in a 2,000-square-foot house, renting out half of it at below-market rates, he said. “I live on about $30,000 per year and donate the rest.”
Author Stephen King and his wife, Tabitha, donated $3 million to help renovate and expand the Bangor Public Library. Mike Segar/Reuters
Stephen and Tabitha King gave $3 million to the Bangor Public Library this year for renovations and expansions, part of a $9 million effort to overhaul the library.
Tabitha King was on the library’s board for many years, and the Kings were known to hang out at the library.
Barbara McDade, the library’s director, said the Kings don’t act like celebrities, even though they’re internationally famous.
“They’re just real down-home people,” she said. “They’ve always been ready to help out.”
The 100-year-old library needs a new roof, which is copper and beyond repair. The Kings announced the $3 million as a matching grant, providing the other $6 million could be raised through other sources.
Bangor voters approved a $3 million bond this summer, and other funding sources leave the library with only about $400,000 left to raise to reach the $9 million goal.
The library was used as a fictional setting in Stephen King’s bestseller “It,” as a hideout for an evil clown.
The Kings’ staff said the couple were unavailable for an interview.
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