April 08, 2020

Pittsfield council expected to take position on Taxpayer Bill of Rights

PITTSFIELD – Town councilors are expected to vote Tuesday night on a resolution opposing the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, which will be on the November ballot.

TABOR is being hotly debated, with supporters saying it will help control state and local spending and result in tax decreases, and opponents maintaining that it will result in a devastation of local services and a loss of local control.

TABOR puts a cap, based on the cost of living index and population growth, on a community’s or school district’s budget.

“As we know, several years ago the town decided to perform a comprehensive review of the budget with the goal in mind of decreasing the budget and reducing the town’s share of taxes,” Town Manager Kathryn Ruth said. “That goal was achieved.”

From 2002 to 2005, Pittsfield councilors cut $143,731 from the budget. If TABOR had been in effect in 2005, the town would have had to cut another 2.15 percent of the budget or seek voter approval.

For the past three years, the town’s budget has not increased. Ruth said that without losing services, the budget can be cut no further.

“Increases in fuel, diesel, gas, electricity and other essential services are now forcing increases in budget lines,” she said.

The council will consider a resolution Tuesday that states: “The TABOR budget restriction formula is particularly irrational and unfair with respect to Maine’s towns and cities such as Pittsfield, that serve as service centers, which tend to be experiencing flat demographic changes but ever-increasing demands for region-wide governmental services.” It also states that population growth is a poor indicator of the services demanded of a community such as Pittsfield, which serves as a major center for jobs and services for the surrounding region.

In other business, 10 resolutions are on the agenda, most of them dealing with various licenses and permits.

New liquor and special amusement permits are being sought by Town Tavern on Route 100 South, and permits up for renewal include liquor and special amusements for Hocus Pocus Cafe on Main Street.

The council also will vote on bond financing for a $300,000 water and sewer project and accept payment of liens on a tax-acquired property on Mill Street.

All meetings begin at 7:30 p.m. in the council chambers of the municipal building.

Correction: This article ran on page C3 in the State edition.

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