In a close vote, the Scarborough Town Council has endorsed the Taxpayer’s Bill of Rights, a referendum question on the ballot this November.

The Sept. 6 vote was 4-3 in favor of the initiative, known as TABOR. It would cap tax increases by limiting government spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth. Any budget increase over what TABOR allows would require a two-thirds majority of any government body, and citizen approval.

Councilors Robert Patch, Sylvia Most, Jeff Messer and Chairman Steve Ross all supported TABOR. Councilors Carol Rancourt, Shawn Babine and Patrick O’Reilly voted against the endorsement.

“Fundamentally, I cannot vote for this bill,” said Babine. He added that the required two-thirds majority was one of the parts he couldn’t agree with.

The two-thirds majority was also a concern for Most, though she did vote in favor of the endorsement.

“If the two-thirds majority should become a problem, it is a statute and we can lobby to have it amended,” said Most.

State Rep. Harold Clough, R-Scarborough, told the council that TABOR is a necessary fix to a large problem.

“I’m sure you’re all aware that in the state of Maine our expenses are going up faster than our incomes. We must prioritize our money to pay the bills we must pay,” said Clough.

He said most expenses, such as gas prices, are something that people can’t do anything about. “I just don’t think that’s fair.”

Michael Duddy, legal counsel for Mary Adams, the prime mover for the citizen initiative, said people who worry that TABOR would force massive budget cuts have nothing to fear.

“No piece of this legislation will force a town to cut its budget,” said Duddy. He added that it is the fundamental right of the people to take control of their taxes and spending.

Scarborough resident Roy Lenardson told the council to beware a “financial tsunami” that would hit Maine without TABOR. The problem, according to Lenardson, is a declining northern population that could soon view towns like Scarborough as “cash cows.”

“TABOR is very important to Scarborough,” said Lenardson. “If we don’t do this now, large transfers will be taken out of communities like Scarborough to support a failing north.”

Messer argued that most of the opposition to TABOR is based on fear and misinformation. “Making people scared and confused is a classic political tactic,” said Messer. “This is a responsible program. Government spending is growing at an unsustainable rate.”

Rancourt spoke out against the initiative, saying that it would do the most harm to vulnerable groups such as senior citizens.

“TABOR takes the responsibility for each individual town out of its hands and into the hands of someone else,” said Rancourt. “Simplistic formulas don’t work. We need to role up our sleeves and do the work on our selves and have our elected representatives do the work.”