April 07, 2020

Hampden council weighs concerns about TABOR

HAMPDEN – While many communities have voted on resolutions to oppose the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, Hampden councilors simply opted during Monday’s council meeting to discuss the bill, which will appear on November’s ballot.

All councilors who spoke about the bill shared concerns about its effect on the town and their level of control at the local government level.

Although pros and cons were highlighted, it seemed to be a consensus that TABOR was not for Hampden.

Town Manager Susan Lessard told the council she thought the bill would limit the services the town provides its residents, noting that if the bill passes as written, two of the most recent town referendums would have failed.

The referendum to complete the sewer project on Route 1A and the paving of gravel roads in town passed by majority, but did not receive the two-thirds vote that would be required under TABOR, she said.

“I have grave concerns about the impact on the town,” Councilor Matt Arnett said. “If Augusta or this constituency thinks they can run our town better than we can, than I totally and radically disagree with them.”

Mainers will vote in November on TABOR, which would restrict future growth in government spending at the state, municipal and school district levels to the increase in inflation and population growth.

“I do believe there are a few communities in the state who need TABOR, but Hampden is not one of them,” Mayor Rick Briggs said. “I think we have made a very conscious effort not to spend beyond our means. We may see the valuation going up, but the mill rate is going down.”

Also in the meeting, councilors announced the town is seeking two representatives for the school building committee. As the construction of a new high school looms, the committee members will discuss the possible site locations, design and structure. Each town within SAD 22 will have two town representatives on the committee, Lessard said.

Councilors said the ideal candidates would have a background in construction, building, space planning, or other related subjects. Applications are available in the town office and are due by Friday, Nov. 10.

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