April 07, 2020
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Houlton council to hear presentation on TABOR

HOULTON – When town councilors convene for one of their last meetings before elections, they will hear a presentation about a measure that could affect both the town and the state if it is implemented – the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

Town Manager Douglas Hazlett said Tuesday evening that he would offer a presentation on TABOR during the next council meeting, which is scheduled for Oct. 23.

The question on the Nov. 7 ballot will ask whether 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 say TABOR allows for sensible growth of government at all levels while also fashioning a stable tax and regulatory climate.

Some school districts, including SAD 29 in Houlton, and some municipal boards throughout the state have taken a stand against the initiative, saying that it would hurt local school districts and hamstring municipal efforts to provide services and sustain infrastructure.

“I want the proposal to be 100 percent objective. That is what I have waited for awhile so that I can present it factually,” Hazlett said. “I have waited until information from both sides of the issue got out so that I could get a better understanding of it.”

The issue, Hazlett said Tuesday evening, is “complicated.”

“This is not a simple issue,” he said. “There are several things that we as a town have to look at and consider when we discuss TABOR. Unfortunately, it has become very political.”

The Oct. 23 meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m.


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