Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Monday, August 08, 2005

Municipal Map

This map from the cover of the MMA's Townsman shows which towns they project will provide property tax reductions or increases this year following the passage of LD1 and the budget.

Municipalities in blue are projected to have lower property taxes, red marks increases and white areas will likely stay the same.

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What this does not reflect is that the Circuit Breaker program was doubled this year (and we are working to triple it) which means that any homeowner whose property tax bill is over 4% of their annual income can be reimbursed up to $2000 (from $1000 last year). If LD 1595 passes in a special session, it will go up to $3000. Plus, LD 1595 fully funds the homestead exemption.

My main point however is that the work is far from over in making Maine's tax structure more fair and stable. I was intrigued by the article in today's paper by Paul Carrier in that he never mentioned that there is work still being done - and he knows better.


Posted by Jon at MCLF

8/08/2005 12:39:00 PM


The map doesn't really tell the story. I want aggregate numbers.

Does anyone think that overall we will really pay less in property taxes this year, even when the increase in the circuitbreaker is considered? I don't. All LD 1 did was result in increased spending. 

Posted by George

8/08/2005 10:41:00 PM


George, it totally depends on the municipality and the individual person.

The circuit breaker applies to the individual, as it is tied to your income. Thus the people who most need help get it.

If the tax reform package (LD 1595) passes in a special session this fall, EVERYONE's property taxes will be reduced, as the homestead exemption increase will be fully funded. How is it funded you might ask? Closing sales tax loopholes and increasing the lodging tax by a penny. The loopholes to be closed would mostly impact the wealthy and tourists. The lodging tax would of course mostly impact tourists. The net effect would be for us to have lower property taxes and most people would also have lower income taxes.


Posted by Jon at MCLF

8/09/2005 10:34:00 AM


I am not interested in individual municipalities -- I am talking about the big picture. The bottom line to me is this: Will the total amount paid in property taxes paid this year, less the Circuitbreaker, be less than it was less than the amount paid in property taxes last year, less the circuitbreaker? Unless the answer to that question is Yes -- LD 1 is a failure.

The reality is that most of the so-called tax relief went to increased spending at the local level.

As for your idea of "tax reform" -- no thanks. I am interested in tax reductions not tax shifts.

Posted by George

8/09/2005 06:58:00 PM


Well George, the reason for any lack of property tax reductions at the local levels is because of LOCAL decisions, often by CITIZEN VOTE to spend money to support their community.

So are you saying that if the voters of a town vote to increase their taxes for something, it's a failure of the government? Hate to tell you this, but you, I, and all your neighbors ARE the government. We are all part of a community that pools its money and jointly makes decisions on how to spend it; and it seems like many in the community disagree with you on priorities. They understand that in many cases, investing in the community benefits everyone more than cutting taxes would.

So if you want reduced taxes, where do you plan on cutting spending? Give me specifics and total dollar amounts, none of this bogus "cut 10% across the board" bullcrap. And don't forget that much of the property tax bills are locally levied, so you will have to specify communities when you do this.

Not so easy is it? Especially when local people vote for a tax increase on themselves.

Posted by jon at mclf

8/10/2005 10:52:00 AM


You are correct that the spending decisions are made locally. My objection is with the often repeated claims that LD 1 was about tax relief -- it wasn't. It was about increasing spending. If the Govenor and Legislature wanted to make more money available for increase spending at the local level, they should have said so instead of pretending that LD 1 was about tax relief.

As for spending cuts -- I would start by rolling back Medicaid elegibility and benefits so that they were in line with what is offered by most other states. We have expanded the program beyond what we can afford.

One of the biggest problems with our government is that all too often the level of government that makes the spending decision does not have to raise the money to fund the spending. We need to drastically cut back the fund transfers between levels of government to increase accountability. At the local level, this would likely mean that new sources of revenue would be needed. But we could cut the state budget by nearly 50% if we ended the practice of the state being the tax collector and transfer agent for local governments. 

Posted by George

8/10/2005 02:28:00 PM


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8/17/2005 04:19:00 PM



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