Elected Green, Gil Harris Speaks out against LePage Budget

LePage’s Tax Proposal Penalizes Municipalities

by Gil Harris, Limerick Planning Board

Gil_Harris.jpgAs a citizen elected to a municipal office, I am very concerned with Governor LePage’s proposed budget. The proposal cuts the upper rates of the state income tax. It attempts to make up for the shortfalls created by this cut with an increased sales tax. This consumption tax will affect low and middle class citizens that spend most of their income on goods and services.

The Governor’s proposal eliminates revenue sharing with towns and cities. This would be level funded for the next fiscal year and eliminated altogether thereafter. He made the comment in his State of the State address that he could easily find 10% of waste in any organization that he could investigate.  I very much doubt that.

As a member of the Limerick Budget Committee, I can attest that every line item on the local budget is reviewed and analyzed. Every department’s budget is then presented to citizens at the town meeting for further review. Each warrant article is read, discussed and voted on. No warrant article can be increased at the Town Meeting, but budgets can be reduced after discussion and voting on the article.

Eliminating Municipal Revenue Sharing from the local budgets will require an increase in the property taxes imposed on our fellow citizens. To offset the property tax increases the budget will result in, the Governor wants to allow municipalities to tax non-profits with assets above $500,000. How many towns in Maine have such a well heeled non-profit to tax?

The increase in property taxes in most cases will be borne by the local citizens. Governor LePage stated that non-residents with vacation homes would bear the brunt of these increases. How many communities have enough vacation home owners that can be taxed to offset this loss of revenue? This tax increase on Mainers will be especially egregious on citizens in rural and small towns where the tax base is made up of hard working residents.

As a resident, tax payer, and municipal elected official in my community, I have contacted my local legislators to express my concern with the effect this budget proposal will have on property taxes.

We Greens encourage all citizens to speak up about this issue. Call your representatives. Write to your newspapers.

Speak to your friends and neighbors. This is one more attempt to reward the Governor’s wealthy allies at the expense of “we the people”.

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