BREWER – The City Council unanimously opposed the Taxpayer Bill of Rights during a meeting Tuesday night, signing a two-page resolve criticizing the measure.
Mainers will vote Nov. 7 on TABOR, which would limit future growth in government spending at the state, municipal and school district levels to increases in inflation and population growth.
“We do need some type of change in taxes in this state, but this isn’t the way to do it,” Councilor Michael Celli said at the meeting.
The Taxpayer Bill of Rights is designed to limit increases in state and local government spending. Its formula uses the U.S. rate of inflation plus an area’s change in population to calculate the allowed increase. To override these limits requires a two-step process: First, two-thirds of a governing body (for example, the Legislature or town council) must approve the change. Then, a majority of voters must approve it at the next general or special election.
A few city councilors voiced their opinions about TABOR.
“It flabbergasts me that this boils down to minority-rule. The constitution guarantees majority rule,” Councilor Manley DeBeck said. “It doesn’t allow flexibility and has nothing to do with the real world.”
TABOR would restrict funding to the Brewer school system, municipal system and ultimately make the citizens pay, out of pocket, for everything from school bus rides for their children to trash pickup, councilors said.
“The Palesky tax cap was a bad idea, this is just a nightmare,” DeBeck said. “It takes away home-rule.”
Specifically, in the resolve, councilors stated that they don’t like the “one-size-fits-all solution.” It prevents voters from making decisions in the best interest of their community.
“TABOR failed somewhere else and we’re trying to adopt it,” Celli said. “We should sit down and come up with our own [solution].”
The Brewer resolve on TABOR ends by stating the “City Council strongly opposes passage of the proposed state law … and asks the citizens of Brewer to join with them in voting against this unnecessary, ill-conceived and destructive legislation.”
“I can’t let this bill take away our rights in this city,” Gail Kelly, mayor of Brewer, said. “I think that we already do an incredible job.”
The text of the TABOR legislation can be found on the secretary of state’s Web site at: www.maine.gov/sos/cec/elec/pets02/legbillr.htm.