Democrats on Maine’s legislative council recently approved a proposal which would repeal Maine’s current law limiting town municipal spending.
The current law establishes a limit on how much can be levied in property tax by any town in a given year.
If any town wishes to increase their spending through the property tax levy beyond the limit set forth by law, then that increase must be approved by a vote of the people.
The current Maine law, known as the “Limitation on Municipal Property Tax Levy“, was initially established in 2005 in order to curb rampant spending and high taxes.
“LD 1 limits the growth of the State’s General Fund appropriations, county assessments, and local property taxes to rates reflective of Maine’s income and population growth. It ties school spending to the level of student enrollment. Governing bodies may surpass the limits, but only through an explicit, public vote,” a 2006 report on the law said.
The law allows for yearly budget increases, but ties the increase to the average increase in household income and property value.
In the November 9th meeting of Maine’s Legislative council, Democratic leaders approved a proposal from Sen. Teresa Pierce (D-Cumberland), which means the full legislature will debate the bill when it reconvenes in January.
Pierce’s bill would repeal LD 1, allowing municipalities to increase spending without consulting taxpayers.
The proposal passed with a vote of 6-3, garnering unanimous Democrat support, and united opposition from Republicans.
The proposal was put forward at the request of Anne Gass, a member of the Gray town council.
In recent years, Gray has sought to exceed the budget cap set forth in LD 1, but the people have voted down these attempts.
Before a 2022 vote to override the LD 1 cap, the town claimed that an override would not increase property taxes.
“When it comes to LD1, there is no direct correlation between increased taxes and passing the override,” the town claimed on its website.
Rep. Amy Arata (R-New Gloucester), a member of the legislative council, vehemently opposed the proposal.
“Voters in Gray have rejected the overspending twice in recent years, so now they are going to be punished by having their voices silenced,” said Rep. Arata.