Government should not be picking winners and losers. In providing a tax break to one of the many law firms that call Portland home, the Portland City Council is doing just that.

Maine’s largest law firm should not be the beneficiary of a tax break at the expense of all the other 23,000 property taxpayers in Portland. Little known fact is $75,000 in spending or taxing in Portland is equal to one penny on the tax rate.

One penny on the tax rate is $10 for every $100,000 of property value. This tax break gives Pierce Atwood the equivalent of 1.8 cents off its tax bill.

Doesn’t seem like much, but the cost to every other taxpayer on Portland to give this law firm a break on their taxes will be $18 per every $100,000 of their property value. Every Portland homeowner will be giving Pierce Atwood a $36 gift every year for the next 20 years. Your editorial on this tax boondoggle that has been proposed was apparently written by Pierce Atwood’s PR firm and ignores several nagging points.

Pierce Atwood is not going to leave the city center and is not going to become a “mall firm.” That would not be good for associate recruiting. “Hey, $100,000 new hire, you will be excited to know we are right next to Maine’s largest mall and you can pop over to the Country Kitchen and the shoe stores on your lunch break.” Right.

The purpose of tax increment financing is to redevelop blighted areas and/or bring new jobs that would help expand our total tax base. Moving Pierce Atwood from one part of Portland to another will achieve neither of these goals.

Bottom line is that Pierce Atwood is going to move to a location in Portland, most likely this location, and it is going to rent the parking spaces on the waterfront from the city (which is a whole other issue) whether we show it the money or not.

So we do not need to subsidize the move. The council needs to soundly reject this plan and work to bring business to Portland, not just
shuffle it around the peninsula.

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