March 29, 2020

SAD 29 to oppose TABOR referendum

HOULTON – Members of the SAD 29 board decided last week not to support the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, a referendum that Maine residents will consider Nov. 7.

The district, comprising Houlton, Hammond, Littleton and Monticello, heard a presentation on TABOR during the board’s monthly meeting.

“We adopted a resolution not to support TABOR,” Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick said Tuesday. “The decision was unanimous.”

The question on the Nov. 7 ballot will ask if voters want to limit increases in state and local government spending and require voter approval for all tax and fee increases.

Modeled after a Colorado initiative, TABOR would limit the growth of spending at the state, county, municipal and school district levels to the annual rate of inflation and population growth.

Communities could override TABOR-imposed limits on revenue increases. According to the TABOR proposal, revenue increases would have to be supported by two-thirds of the members of the legislative body of a quasi-municipal agency or a local district, then be approved by a majority of the voters in that jurisdiction.

Supporters of the proposal maintain that TABOR allows for reasonable growth of government at all levels while also creating a stable tax and regulatory climate.

Opponents strongly disagree.

Some school districts and municipal boards throughout the state have taken a stand against the initiative, stating that it would hurt local school districts and hamstring municipal efforts to provide services and sustain infrastructure.

On Tuesday, Fitzpatrick pegged TABOR as “worse” than the 1 percent tax cap referendum that was rejected by voters two years ago.

If it had been implemented, the “Palesky” tax cap would have scaled back assessed property values to their 1996-97 level and capped property taxes at $10 per $1,000 of valuation.

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