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Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor Discuss Region Master Plan

In a recent story, by Boothbay Register journalist, Joseph Charpentier, titled JEDC broadens discussion on master plan, Wendy Wolf, co-chair of the JECD is reported as describing the discussion as "as a long overdue, interesting discussion on economic development and where the two towns stand on it:"

As always, first on the agenda are financial matters of great concern to the JECD. It is mentioned that representatives of Southport and Edgecomb sit in on the meetings, hinting with an uncharacteristic subtlety that Southport and Edgecomb ought to be paying the JECD for their services, which consists of holding interesting discussions and hiring consultants and promoting Boothbay Harbor as a "Festival of Lights" in conjunction with the lighting event at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. Last year the taxpayers of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor paid $79000.00 to the JECD which bought a regional report produced by Camoin Associates. The interesting discussion makes no mention of the report. The interesting discussion, as reported in a "just the facts" accounting in the Boothbay Register, reveals that the JECD board has no idea how to use the report as the basis for forming a plan. The master plan is spoken of as though it were complete, only missing specific details and substance. One thing is certain. What the  JECD board lacks in visionary imagination, it compensates for with its a will to power and ability to procure public funding.

After the financial matters,  the discussion revolved around three main questions, in need some answers:
  • Financing and what kind of entity is to be financed
  •  Who will do the work implementing the plan?
  • What are the specifics of the plan?
Boothbay Harbor member Mike Tomko agreed that there seems to be an interest in future collaboration between the two towns, but felt confused about how they could create an entity responsible for something when no one seems to know what it is. Will the entity be responsible for BREDCO, a town planner, or a contractual agreement? Tomko suggested that this has to be decided by the townspeople, via their selectmen.

Ken Ray, a private member of the JECD development group, suggested reviving the non-profit Boothbay Region Economic Development Corporation so that the group could get funding from a source different than municipal taxpayers. Public-private non-profits, such as the Maine Technology Institute, derive their funding from "any source" inclusive of taxpayers and non-profit giving.

Camoin Associates recommends that the entity best suited to handle the responsibilities and resources to implement the Action Plan is a quasi-municipal, non-profit economic development corporation. This entity would serve as the economic development arm of the participating municipalities tasked with progressing the objectives in the Action Plan Matrix. This entity will be referred to throughout the Action Plan Matrix as the Boothbay Region Economic Development Corporation (BREDCO), indicating the specific objectives that would require leadership from this organization. Camoin Report, Action Plan Matrix, Pg 8
Camoin Associate is New York firm hired by a small group of peers and paid with Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor taxpayer money to produce a report which recommends using taxation as a means to finance a 150,000.000 annual budget, half of which will be the director's salary, who will be the only employee. How is it that a private enterprise firm from outside the Boothbay Region is advising taxation on Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor residents? The report offers such advice as :
 Method 2: Per capita or per person – This method distributes the cost per person under the assumption that the more people a town has, the more the town should pay, regardless of a town’s ability to pay the fee.  
 Method 5: External funding – This method would seek out contributions from the private sector, non-profit organizations, and foundations. This method is unlikely to provide 100% sustainable funding to the organizations, but could make up partial contributions to the budget from year to year. 
Camoin Report, Action Plan Matrix, Pg 9

That's right! It says the town should be charged per person, regardless of whether or not the town can afford to pay the fee. although every person will not benefit. The summary can be made that Camoin Associates believes that given the choice the people will not support this and so they must be made to support it by mandate.

 Method number five is the more appropriate method for this organization to finance its agenda but is viewed by Camoin Associates as being too difficult a means of raising funds. However, if  BREDCO can pass as a public-private organization, taxing the inhabitants of the municipality is seen as a much easier means of procuring funding, which is why the interesting discussion needs to ask how legal is BREDCO as a public-private corporation pursuant to the Maine Constitution,? We are on the slippery slope.

The Boothbay Region Economic Development Corporation filings show one instance of filing articles of incorporation, in 1994, filed under Title 13-B: MAINE NONPROFIT CORPORATION ACT§403. Articles of incorporation. An attached affidavit states that membership in the corporation shall be open on a fee basis to all individuals and corporations, mirroring the structure of the Chamber of Commerce. The focus of the Chamber of Commerce, the JECD, and Paul Coulombe has been to promote the region as a tourism destination. The only sensible reason for another non-profit economic development corporation is to support the region's year-round businesses.

The Camoin Report is written as if the consultants have no idea that there is already an existing corporation going by the name of Boothbay Region Economic Development Corporation when it recommends that an identical company be created and states that it will require a two-year budget to do so:
Looking Ahead – Communication  Share and Communicate: After completing the JEDC Economic Development Plan, sharing and communicating the goals and strategies will be paramount to building support for general economic development activities on the peninsula and goals specific to the Economic Development Plan, including the creation of a non-profit economic development entity. Securing the financial resources to create the BREDCO entity could take one to two years based on budgeting cycles. During this time the JEDC can continue to progress action items with immediate priority and those that are already underway. Camoin Report, pg 10

Neither Boothbay nor Boothbay Harbor has municipal charters and so the question arises as to whom has the legal municipal authority to enter into contractual agreements with a separate entity. A municipal charter would establish an agent with acting authority to enter into legal agreements, as well as parameters for the functions of the board of selectmen. Further research is needed into the parameters of legal authority as provided under general Maine municipal law, and the nature of authority granted to quasi-municipalities (regional organizations). The Home Rule Amendment confers municipal economic development authority, for the purpose of constructing industrial buildings, financed by public bonds, only when approved by the inhabitants of the municipality. Economic development authority is granted only to municipalities by the Home Rule Amendment, and not to the State, or other public entity, as Marshall J Tinkle noted in his reference book on the Maine Constitution.

According to Marshall J Tinkle, previous to 1962's Maine Municipal Industrial Buildings Bonds Referendum, legislation calling for bonds to be issued for industrial purposes was declared unconstitutional because it was not for a public use.
As noted in the literature, the amendment (Home Rule, Section 2) makes it clear that general obligations may now be used to assist private industry for certain purposes" this section applies only to general obligations of municipalities and not to forms of financing that do not create municipal debt or liability" The Maine Constitution:A Reference manual by Marshall J Tinkle
Tinkle was making the point that the Home Rule Amendment does not confer economic development authority on the state, nor does it create it for a regional entity (my point) unless the debt created can be associated with a municipal debt. The question to ask is  "Does a quasi-municipal, non-profit economic development corporation" qualify as a municipal debt?, bearing in mind that the Home Rule Amendment limits the parameters of economic development to the construction of industrial buildings. A place to start is by examing what was put into place in 2015 in the "Industry Partnerships" statute, as well as the statutes governing municipalities, bearing in mind that the Home Rule Amendment was added to the Constitution in 1969, providing the public bond municipal referendums, which Longley's board targeted for elimination, in 1976:
2: eliminate the requirement for a local referendum on municipal bond issues . The 1976 Governor’s Task Force for Economic Redevelopment , Recommended Legislation for an Economic Development Program -110th Congress
During the LePage administration,  §3304 Industry Partnerships Program was passed. Its purpose is state management of relationships between private industries in the state of Maine. It is the state of the art evolution of economic policy put into place under the Longley administration when the Legislature deemed that "centrally managing the economy is an essential government function which must be done by public-private relationships, a fundamental difference from the Maine Constitution's political ideology.

Boothbay Town Manager, Dan Bryer, questioned who would do the work implicating that in the past it was realized that BREDCO could not act independently to implement the master plan and so the conversation died. No one said why BREDCO could not stand on its own. The Camoin Report does not include a discussion about the legal aspects specific to forming a public-private municipal corporation in the state of Maine. BREDCO was formed as a non-profit corporation but the client of Camoin Associates is a public-private "ad-hoc volunteer group". The latter description is what I was told is the proper way to speak of the JECD, by Wendy Wolf, spokesperson for the JECD, after I  mistakenly referred to the JECD  as an agency.

Patricia Royal, Executive Director of the Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce responded by opining that the region does not need any more non-profit organizations.

The Boothbay Harbor Region Chamber of Commerce is a private non-profit organization, with purposes consistent with economic development. The Chamber was formed in 1962, seven years before the Home Rule Amendment was added to the Maine Constitution in 1969. If the economy of the Boothbay Region is to be centrally managed, which is what the idea that the JECD is formulated around, it is true that one doesn't need any more non-profit organizations with such a mission since the region already has the Chamber. Multiple central managers defeat the concept of central management.

The Boothbay Chamber of Commerce was formed in 1958, but the Boothbay Town Report states that it was formed in 1962, the same year the Boothbay Harbor Chamber was formed, which is now called the Boothbay Region Chamber of Commerce. 

In between the lines of the reporting about the goings on of the JECD meetings, A tug of war between the authority of the Chamber and that of the JECD is emerging. There is no constitutional question around the past structure and financing of the Chamber as there is around the existence of the financing of the JECD. If the JECD were to merge into the Chamber by transferring the JECD's questionable public financing to the Chamber, the Chamber would no longer be consistent with the terms of its founding charter. It would be a public-private organization, instead of a private non-profit organization, unless it was set up as a contractual agreement arrangement, but the Home Rule Amendment provides only for municipal economic development authority pertaining to the construction of industrial buildings. Once again, the questions becomes, what is the legal source of the authority for the JECD to be functioning as an economic development planning board?

The Home Rule Amendment provides to the inhabitants of the municipality, authority to amend the municipal charter and to approve public referendums for economic development purposes.

The Maine Constitutiono
Municipal Home Rule
Section 1. Power of municipalities to amend their charters. The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or general law, which are local and municipal in character. The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.
Section 2. Construction of buildings for industrial use. For the purposes of fostering, encouraging and assisting the physical location, settlement and resettlement of industrial and manufacturing enterprises within the physical boundaries of any municipality, the registered voters of that municipality may, by majority vote, authorize the issuance of notes or bonds in the name of the municipality for the purpose of purchasing land and interests therein or constructing buildings for industrial use, to be leased or sold by the municipality to any responsible industrial firm or corporation.

Prior to 1969, economic development could only be done through a private agency and thus the Chamber of Commerce was formed as a private entity serving its own membership. The courts ruled that governmental involvement in economic development violated Section Eight, governing equal taxation, of the Maine Constitution. Article IX Section 8: Taxation, was relocated to Section 2 of the Home Rule section of the Constitution in the 1973 codification:
This provision was added to the Constitution as section 8A of Article IX in 1962 (Amend.LXXXVII) and was relocated under the 1973 codification. Its original placement highlighted the intent to restrict the scope of Article IX, section 8, which mandates that all taxes be apportioned and assessed equally. If general obligation bonds were used so that a particular industry got back tax revenue in the form of aid, this could be equivalent to an unequal tax rate and hence in derogation of section 8. The Maine Constitution: A Reference manual by Marshall J Tinkle
The Home Rule Amendment allows for taxation to be used to assist private economic development but only within the municipality and not without the consent of inhabitants of the municipality. It is philosophically significant that the Home Rule Amendment provides decision making authority to all inhabitants and not merely property-owning taxpayers. or in terms of contemporary local dynamics, not only non-taxpaying, super funded, lawyered-up nonprofits

Head of the chamber, Patricia Royal, said the Chamber has office space, suggesting that the full-time staff be located at the chamber, but not mentioning the issue of who would pay for the staff. The Chamber was formed, in 1962, as a private organization, funded by and serving its private members while the JECD is funded by the taxpayers of the municipalities of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor. The preferred entity recommended by Camoin Associates is a quasi-municipal entity. The Chamber started as a private non-profit organization. If the Chamber were to merge with the JECD is could become a publicly-privately funded quasi, inconsistent with its founding charter,

Wendy Wolf, co-chair of the JECD development group said the problem with the staff member being located at the Chamber is that the boards of Boothbay and Boothbay Harbor wouldn't want to pay for it, implying that the expenditure would be decided by the JECD board, rather than by public referendum, and identifying that the board has no problem with hiring consultants from outside our area but, according to the spokesperson, Wendy Wolf, would not consider paying for economic development services rooted in our local community.

The meeting closed with Tom Woodin saying the JECD will have  $36,700 – $16,700 from Boothbay Harbor and $20,000 from Boothbay. From the budgets recently passed, there will be an additional $50,000 going to the JEDC and with $19,500 committed to the consulting firm, Green Tree Events, the JEDC will have $67,200 for spending. Not bad for a group that has no stated vision or plan, outside of the status quo, promoting the tourism industry on the Peninsula, which is the domain of the Chamber, and is also that of the private developer, Paul Coulombe.

Member Andy Hamblett said:"We could not have done the work that Camoin did ... that Green Tree did and we hired somebody to do it, So, at some point, we need to take some assets and have somebody provide leadership and do we really have to worry about where that comes from?"

At least if the assets were used to provide leadership from our own community, one local job would be created, That's a start!

If a local person, with living ties to the history of a place, were leading, the mistake of recommending the creation of a corporation of the same name and structure as an existing corporation, The Boothbay Region Economic Development Corporation.would not occur. Instead, the recommendation would be to revive (or not) said corporation, but only after a study was made on why that corporation fizzled in the first place, identifying the causes and pitching a reason why reviving the corporation would succeed where it had failed in the past. This could be achieved by interviewing local people who were involved in the last BREDCO, or who know some of its histories. It would not have to be as expensive as hiring outside consultants at top dollar.  There are quite a few local historians in the area with stories to tell.


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