To the Editor:
A “Viewpoint” piece by Rob Jordan in the Aug. 31 Islander suggests that creating a Bar Harbor Port Authority would allow Bar Harbor taxpayers to avoid having to pay for development of the former ferry terminal site. However, financing the purchase and development of the site boils down to two possible methods, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
If the town of Bar Harbor issues a bond for financing the purchase and development of the site, local taxpayers would retain control of what gets built and how it operates. The fee payments on the bond would be paid from the fees derived from the pier users. Those fees, and any profits from them, would remain under Bar Harbor control, to use as the town sees fit.
However, if cruise ship traffic or pier usage fees go down, or if bond interest rates go up, Bar Harbor taxpayers would have to meet those bond payments.
If a Bar Harbor Port Authority is created and issues a bond for financing the purchase and development of the site, the state would gain total control of what gets built and how it operates, as well as the size of the bond that is issued. The fee payments on the bond would be paid from pier user fees, but if they were insufficient to cover the bond fees, the taxpayers of the entire state would cover them, making the taxpayers of Bar Harbor less financially liable. Most importantly, any profits from the use of the pier would go into the state treasury, not into the local budget of Bar Harbor.
Those differences seem substantial. Neither choice is risk-free to the taxpayers of Bar Harbor.
I think that the main effect of creating a Bar Harbor Port Authority would be a loss of local control over what is built and what operates at that site. That does not seem wise for Bar Harbor voters to approve, no matter which side of this matter they currently are on.
Gary W. Conrad