AUBURN – The City Council and School Committee officially oppose the Palesky tax cap and have signed a joint resolution that condemns the proposal that goes to voters Nov. 2.

Auburn’s two most influential boards adopted the one-page resolution unanimously Monday. In it they said the tax cap would have “long-term, negative impacts on the quality of life in Auburn, our public schools, our ability to protect the public’s safety” by slashing tax revenue the city would be allowed to collect.

Under the proposal, property taxes would be capped at 1 percent.

Auburn officials said such a cap would cost the city $27 million, or about 70 percent of revenues. It’s money that Auburn couldn’t afford to lose, they said.

“There’s no question, if this were to pass there’d be an impact,” said Mayor Normand Guay. “I personally think it would be a severe impact.”

City officials have not outlined specific cuts they would make if the tax cap passed. Since all council and school committee seats are open for election this year, Guay said any cuts would be up to incoming members.

But he said the city would likely have to charge fees in order to maintain services.

“I don’t know any way you could do it without imposing fees,” he said Tuesday.

This year, Auburn has a $58.7 million budget, including $29.7 million set aside for schools. Just over $37 million of the total comes from property taxes.

The city’s tax rate is now $29.38 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Under the proposal, that tax rate could not be more than $10 for every $1,000 of value.

“I don’t think this is what voters want,” said School Committee Chairwoman Kathy Constantine.

She supported the resolution, she said, because she felt residents already forced property tax relief when they voted for June’s Question 1A, which requires the state to pay 55 percent of school funding. At an Auburn budget hearing before that vote this summer, she said citizens were happy with the current budget. Some, she said, wanted to fund more services.

“I didn’t hear one single person say we have to drop the tax rate to 10 mills,” she said.

Auburn is one of several municipalities to officially oppose the tax cap. Some, such as Farmington and Harrison, have signed similar resolutions.

Others, such as Lewiston, have publicly calculated the tax cap’s impact on local services.



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