SOUTH PORTLAND (AP) – Police, firefighters and emergency responders said Tuesday that the proposed Taxpayer Bill of Rights which Maine will voters will consider in November could threaten public safety.

Officials representing public safety workers said spending caps resulting from TABOR would slash essential services at a time of increasing need.

TABOR would limit government spending to the rate of inflation plus population growth in order to curb tax increases. Towns could exceed the limits if two-thirds of the voters agree.

Robert Schwartz of the Maine Chiefs of Police Association said the proposed law imposes an arbitrary formula on municipal budgets.

at a time that public safety needs are changing. He pointed to Bangor, where the population has remained fairly stable. But the city now has a casino that draws thousands of people, increasing public safety needs, he said.

Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion says the formula fails to address the reality of a rapidly increasing jail population in his and other counties. Schwartz, Dion and others held a news conference in South Portland.

TABOR supporters said their proposal allows reasonable growth of government at all levels, while creating a predictable tax and regulatory climate.

Campaign spokesman Roy Lenardson said the proposal seeks to transfer power from elected officials alone to elected officials and voters.

Campaign leader Mary Adams also dismissed opponents’ claims, saying TABOR allows for budget increases every year through population and inflation growth rates.

AP-ES-08-22-06 1543EDT



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