ELLSWORTH — News about the candidates for Congress, governor, state House and Senate, county government and municipal office may dominate the airwaves and the printed page, but there are other decisions to be made on Nov. 2.
Three referendum questions also will be decided: a citizen initiative and two bond issues.
The citizen initiative, Question 1, asks if voters would “allow a casino with table games and slot machines” at a site in Oxford County. A portion of the profits would, under law, go to certain state, local and tribal programs.
Supporters see it as a job creator, a source of tax revenue and an economic boon for a blighted region. Opponents contend that the “new” money the casino would bring in might well be existing money spent on gambling instead of groceries.
Question 2 asks voters if they favor a $5,000,000 bond issue to increase access to dental care in Maine. Of that amount, $3,500,000 would be used for a community-based teaching dental clinic affiliated with or operated by a college of dental medicine. That sum would be matched by $3,500,000 in other funds.
The remaining $1,500,000 in the bond would be used to create or upgrade community-based health and dental care clinics across the state.
Supporters say Maine, in terms of dental care, is an underserved area. The bond would fund access to dental care and the creation of a teaching clinic.
Opponents contend that, though the need is real, the bond is not the best way to address the problem. Opponents note that Maine already has major financial problems and is not in a position to borrow more money.
Question 3, also a bond issue, asks voters if they favor a $9,750,000 bond issue to invest in land conservation and working waterfront preservation and to preserve state parks to be matched by $9,250,000 in federal and other funds.
Proponents say investment in Maine’s natural resources and working waterfronts is good for the state’s tourist industry and fisheries. Proponents note that the great majority of funding will come from federal and outside funding, not from Maine coffers.
Opponents see government acquisition of land and the consequent removal of that land from the tax roll as having the potential to erode the real estate tax base. Opponents also question the wisdom of government acquisition of private land.