Friday, December 13, 2013
South Portland city councilors are taking on the governor -- and they're not alone.
Sen. Dick Woodbury and Sen. Rebecca Millett
The council on Monday will vote on a resolve to oppose the state's two-year budget, which Gov. Paul LePage is proposing to balance by slashing funds to cities and towns.
On Tuesday, the Gorham Town Council will decide whether to send a letter to its delegation "expressing very serious concern" about the proposed budget, which would suspend municipal revenue-sharing for two years, shift tractor-trailer excise taxes from local government to the state and stop refunding towns and cities for exempt equipment taxes.
Since LePage announced his budget proposal, municipal officials have taken out their calculators and broken down the impact that each of the cuts would have on their communities.
Now, they're turning to their legislators for help protecting the programs that are most critical to them.
In the bedroom town of Cape Elizabeth, losing revenue from excise and business equipment taxes wouldn't make much of a dent. But $640,000 of shared revenue from the state funded 8 percent of the town's budget this year, said Town Manager Mike McGovern.
Town and school officials met with Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, on Monday to talk about their state budget concerns.
McGovern said she and other legislators have been "very sympathetic" to their worries about losing revenue-sharing.
Independent Sen. Dick Woodbury will hold a series of forums for residents to tell him about their priorities, starting with his hometown of Yarmouth on Monday and making his way to Cumberland, Falmouth, Gray and North Yarmouth throughout the week.
While most towns are at least talking to legislators to get on message, South Portland would take it a step further by making a statement as a city.
The two-page resolve lists the impact on South Portland of each of LePage's proposed cuts for a total reduction in revenue of $2 million next fiscal year and $2.8 million the year after.
If the gap were funded solely by a property tax increase, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay $166 more in 2015 than this year.
Cutting spending instead would "undermine the city's ability to provide public services," the resolve says.
South Portland City Manager Jim Gailey didn't return a phone call Friday, nor did Adrienne Bennett, spokeswoman for LePage.
Staff Writer Leslie Bridgers can be contacted at: 791-6364 or at