JAY — If the governor's proposal to raise the eligibility age for the state “circuit breaker” program is approved, 169 Jay households would not get a combined $51,678, Town Manager Ruth Cushman said.
If Gov. Paul LePage’s budget proposal is approved, it would be for people 65 and older who meet the income guidelines, she said. That would mean 53 households would get a combined $19,874 through the Maine Residents Property Tax & Refund Program, also known as the circuit breaker program.
If the governor’s proposal to eliminate the Homestead Exemption for property owners under the age of 65 is approved, owners of property that is their primary residence in town would not see a reduction of about $137 factored into their tax bills, Cushman said. Jay's tax rate is $13.75 per $1,000 of property.
“For some people that is a dramatic change,” she said.
If Gov. LePage’s proposal to eliminate state revenue sharing to towns is approved, Jay would lose $275,231, based on the current budget, she said. If the state was fully funding the state revenue sharing formula of 5 percent, Jay would have received $404,000.
Though the town is facing less of an affect under the governor’s proposal than other towns, the biggest impact to Jay is if his proposal to eliminate the Business Equipment Tax Exemption Program and maintain Business Equipment Tax Reimbursement program goes through.
Verso Paper Corp., which has paper mills in Jay and Bucksport, is facing an approximate increase of $4 to $5 million in the first 18 months between the two mills, she said.
“Jay is only as healthy as Verso is. We would hate to see Verso put at a disadvantage from corporate on investment at this mill. Maine is touting itself as being business friendly and this certainly is not a business friendly move,” she said. “The municipality is facing a lot of uncertainty. We don‘t know what is going to happen but it must be worse for this business.”
Cushman said she doesn’t know what affect the RSU 73 budget will have on the town. The governor is also proposing to fund education at the current year’s level over the next two years.
The state would be better off to raise the sales tax than continue to put more burden on property taxpayers, she said. Maine’s sales tax is 5 percent.
“The majority of the people that I have listened to feel that a 1-cent increase on the sales tax is not unreasonable,” Cushman said. “If you look at the New England average we are low.”