Saturday, December 7, 2013
Rep. Ann Dorney
On Nov. 5, Mainers go to the polls to vote on five bond proposals approved by the Legislature earlier this year. These bonds would provide more than $149 million for our state’s aging transportation infrastructure, higher-education system and National Guard facilities.
Question 1 on the ballot would approve funds to support the men and women who volunteer to protect our state and the nation as members of the Maine National Guard. Currently, 17 facilities, operated and maintained through a combination of federal and state funds, support the mission of the Maine National Guard. These facilities allow monthly training operations, store essential equipment and are used as a site for emergency response operations during a natural or man-made disaster. It’s important that these facilities are in serviceable condition, and many of them are not. At a minimum, we have a responsibility to ensure that these facilities do not present a risk to the health of the men and women who volunteer to protect us. In some cases, asbestos floor tiles need to be removed or covered to prevent harmful exposure. Some facilities lack proper fire alarms that could save lives in the event of a fire. The armory bond would provide $2 million for maintenance and repair projects, such as replacing old windows or electrical outlets, $6 million for larger capital repairs and $3 million for modernization and energy efficiency improvements. These repairs would provide the state a return on investment through energy savings alone. For example, some of the buildings lack proper insulation and are heated with aging technologies. Annual heating costs for these facilities could be reduced by tens of thousands of dollars per year by modernizing heating systems, insulating old buildings or even replacing old energy-inefficient windows. The return on these dollars would be even greater because it would enable the state to leverage matching funds from the federal government. The bond also would provide $3 million for the purchase of training grounds for our service members. Currently, the Guard lacks sufficient space to meet the varied missions for which it must prepare. This forces many soldiers to travel long distances to get the training necessary to prepare for the response to an emergency situation or deployment overseas. Overall, the bond would provide $14 million in support of our National Guard service members. Approval of this bond would help ensure that the Maine National Guard is prepared to answer the call when crisis strikes tomorrow. That is why I encourage Mainers to let their voices be heard on this important bond question by voting on Nov. 5. Rep. Ann Dorney is serving her first term in the Maine House of Representatives. She represents Madison, Norridgewock and Solon and serves on the Joint Standing Committee on Health and Human Services.