HOLDEN – After calling the Taxpayer Bill of Rights initiative facing voters in November confusing – and with town leaders admitting that they themselves couldn’t say how the seven-page formula would affect the town – the Town Council on Monday decided to let residents educate themselves on the issue.
“It’s the most confusing thing I’ve ever read,” Chairwoman Ellen Campbell said to start the TABOR discussion.
Town Manager Larry Varisco said he tried to put together some numbers using the formula, but was unable to.
“I just realized, I don’t understand TABOR,” he said.
Figures from the Maine Municipal Association, which opposes the measure, were distributed during the Town Council meeting.
TABOR is designed to limit increases in state and local government spending by linking them to the rate of inflation plus an area’s growth in population.
To override these limits is a two-step process: First two-thirds of a governing body, such as the Legislature or a town council, must approve the increase. Then a majority of voters must approve the increase at the next general or special election.
“Every increase would have to be approved by the voters,” Councilor John Bryant stressed to the board on Monday.
In addition to the proposed legislation being confusing, several town councilors said they were concerned about the loss of local control.
“I think taking away local control is a huge mistake,” Campbell said.
The more information available to residents, the better, Councilor Robert Harvey said Monday.
“I know area councils are passing resolves against” the measure, he said, saying he wouldn’t support a Holden resolve.
“My personal thoughts would be we provide any and all information for or against” the initiative to residents, Harvey suggested.
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.