Lewiston council opposes LePage budget

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LEWISTON — City councilors Tuesday came out formally against a proposed state budget they say shifts the tax burden onto Maine’s cities and towns.

Councilors unanimously approved a resolve opposing the budget proposal put forward by Gov. Paul LePage last week.

Among other cuts, it calls for suspending state revenue sharing for two years, as well as cuts to the state’s circuit breaker program and the Homestead Exemption program. It also examines the way the state calculates motor vehicle excise.

According to Tuesday’s resolution, proposed changes to personal property taxes, excise taxes, state revenue sharing and Homestead reimbursements will cut revenues to the city by $4.4 million in the 2013-14 fiscal year and $5.3 million the following year.

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The city can respond by raising taxes — an additional $357 for a $150,000 home in fiscal year 2013-14 — or cutting services. The city would need to eliminate all capital improvements and reduce city staff, according to the resolve.

Councilors approved the measure without comments from them or from Mayor Bob Macdonald.

Only former Mayor Larry Gilbert spoke on the matter.

“They are shifting the burden to the municipalities,” Gilbert said. “They’re cutting income taxes, which are more fair than property taxes that are on people on a fixed income. I think it’s very unfair, and I deplore the governor shifting that burden on us — especially since he is a former mayor. He should know better.”

staylor@sunjournal.com

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