POLAND — Selectperson Joe Cimino said a bill in the state Legislature proposing a 12-cents-per-gallon excise tax on water that has been extracted from the ground would have a negative and lasting impact on Poland, the home of Poland Spring Water Co.

Speaking at Tuesday night’s Select Board meeting, Cimino said he will testify against the bill, HP 0797, which was filed March 5 by state Rep. Lori Gramlich, D-Old Orchard Beach.

Poland Spring Water Co., a subsidiary of Nestle Waters North America, is a large employer in the region.

The bill’s summary states, “This bill creates an excise tax of 12¢ per gallon on the extraction of groundwater or surface water for commercial bottling for sale.”

The bill states 65 percent of the tax revenue would be used to expand and improve high-speed broadband access. The rest would provide tuition grants for up to two years for postsecondary education.

Nikki Pratt, the town’s executive assistant, said Poland Spring Water Co. is a large taxpayer and employer, and undoubtedly any impact on the company would also have an impact on the community.

“We need to speak for ourselves on this one,” Cimino said.

Walter Gallagher, chairman of the Select Board, suggested Town Manager Matthew Garside attend the hearing with Cimino to offer the municipality’s side of the argument.

Tax Foundation, an independent Washington-based think tank that collects data and publishes research studies on federal and state tax policies, published a report March 18 stating: “Three previous bills in Maine’s Legislature attempted to impose similar excise taxes at various rates and for various purposes; all were rejected.

In 2009, HP 191 was proposed to tax water at one cent per gallon; in 2015, HP 127 would also have imposed a water extraction tax of one cent per gallon; and in 2017, HP 356 aimed to tax water at a rate of one cent per 25 gallons extracted.

“Poland Spring is the only company in Maine that would be subjected to such taxation.”

In other matters at the meeting, Claire Walker, a Ricker Memorial Library trustee, said the library will survey residents at the polls and at the town meeting next month on whether the library should be renovated, expanded or left as is.

Walker said the building is 75 years old and patrons’ needs are changing.

A candidates’ night for those seeking town offices has been scheduled for 7 p.m. on March 28 at the Town Office conference room.

Vying for two selectpersons seats for three years: Arthur Berry, Stephen Robinson, Stanley Tetenman and Bruce Uldall.

Melanie Harvey is unopposed for a three-year term on the Regional School Unit 16 board of directors.

Claire Dick and Claire Walker are running unopposed for two three- year posts on the library board of trustees.

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