AUGUSTA — Proposed state legislation could cost Portland hundreds of thousands of dollars in annual revenues by changing where utility companies pay excise taxes on their vehicles from corporate headquarters to the municipalities where they are kept.

Officials from Farmington and Fairfield testified at a hearing Monday that the money would rightly be used to offset the cost of the wear and tear those vehicles have on the roads they travel. The same bill was proposed and rejected in the last two sessions of the state Legislature. Last year it was part of a spat between officials of the city of Augusta and Central Maine Power Co., which pays about $283,000 a year in excise taxes on its entire 489-vehicle fleet to Augusta, where its headquarters is located, as is required by current law.

Officials from municipalities where CMP or other utilities keep some of their vehicle fleets overnight argued Monday excise taxes are meant to help pay for the upkeep of local roads. They said the current system of having utilities pay excise taxes to the municipality where their headquarters is located unfairly deprives them of excise revenues from utility company vehicles, often heavy bucket trucks, kept in their towns and thus contributing to the wear and tear of local roads.

“This is an issue of fairness,” Fairfield Town Manager Josh Reny said. Reny testified in favor of the bill.

A CMP location in Fairfield houses 38 trucks, which Reny said could provide the town between $20,000 and $30,000 in annual revenues.

“This would very much help our municipality,” he said. “And taking off my town manager’s hat, as a private citizen I’d still support this. It makes sense from a public policy standpoint.”

Buckland said CMP parks only 24 percent of its vehicles in Augusta and 76 percent elsewhere across the state, yet pays 100 percent of the excise taxes on those vehicles exclusively to Augusta.

RoJean Tulk, director of government relations for FairPoint Communications, spoke against the proposed bill but said if it’s going to pass, it should be amended so utilities would have a choice to either pay excise taxes to the municipality where their vehicles are kept or where their headquarters is located.

She said FairPoint pays registration and excise fees totaling $270,000 annually to the city of Portland, the site of its headquarters in Maine, on its fleet of about 400 vehicles. About 80, or 20 percent, of them are kept in Portland with the rest spread through 12 other communities.

She said having to register and pay excise taxes in 13 instead of one municipality would create administrative burdens and add to FairPoint’s cost of doing business with those costs – which she said she didn’t have an estimate of – potentially being passed on to its customers.

Sen. Earle McCormick, R-West Gardiner, senate chairman of the Taxation Committee, said no work sessions had yet been scheduled on the bill, but he expected it to be taken up in a couple of weeks.