Increasingly, concerns arise with this legislative session about proposals to raise taxes on Mainers. One of the most egregious efforts resides in L.D. 1254, an effort to burden Mainers with local-option taxes under the cloak of helping rural parts of the state.

This misguided and harmful change would force the hotels and restaurants to suffer yet another increase in the tax rate. Not all that long ago, such increases were to be temporary, and in even closer memory, this governor said there would be no new taxes. Yet Mainers eating and traveling within the state account for, respectively, 70 percent of meals consumed in Maine restaurants and over 30 percent of nights in Maine lodging establishments. At our family business, visitors still complain about the last increase.

And this effort to help rural Maine is deceptive. While 75 percent of the funds raised would be returned to the town or city that raises them, the other 25 percent would go to the Maine Rural Development Authority – but this funding can only be used for redevelopment of industrial and manufacturing sites. It is not a windfall to rural Maine.

Additionally, with towns like Ogunquit and cities like Portland already collecting millions in parking and cruise ship docking fees, this will only serve to create greater disparity in the “have” and “have-not” communities. Study after study on local option taxes as far back as the 1970s has shown that such mismanagement of tax policy makes wealthy towns and cities wealthier and poor ones poorer.

Local-option tax, seasonal gas tax, increased lodging tax – what’s next for visitors and residents? A local sales tax, too? Mainers expected something different from this legislative session, but they are just getting more of the same: taxes.

Allyson Cavaretta


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