AUGUSTA – State Rep. Heidi Brooks, D-Lewiston, has penned a bill that would allow cities and towns to levy a local sales tax on certain goods and services.

Brooks, a freshman lawmaker, said she is responding to concerns she heard while campaigning for office last fall and an answer to her city’s ongoing struggles with the state over its revenue-sharing program.

“Gov. Paul LePage proposed a budget last year that cut revenue sharing, and towns and cities across Maine were left wondering what to do,” Brooks said in a prepared statement. “As a regional service center to many, Lewiston needs to take control of our budget and guard against major shifts that hurt property taxpayers.”

LePage’s current budget proposal would include flat-funding for municipalities in 2015 and 2016 but eliminates the program in 2017.

According to the Maine Municipal Association, the governor’s last proposal to eliminate revenue sharing would have shifted roughly $420 million onto local governments.

Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett told the Sun Journal that since 2009 city staff has been reduced from 369 to 331 employees, city services were reduced and still the city had to increase the property tax rate from $24.90 per $1,000 of assessed value to $26.60 per $1,000 of assessed value.

“I know that the City Council has made serious cuts to the budget and that we have very few options left to make up for any loss of revenue,” Brooks said. “I’m concerned about the property taxpayer and those needing city services. I’m going to fight for this.”

Brooks also submitted legislation to improve the absentee voting process, expand health care access and to streamline the business regulations around microbreweries.

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