GARDINER, Maine — Maine cities and towns are looking for some help and for more money from state government. They're hoping the Legislature will restore money to the revenue sharing program, which has been steadily cut back over the past twelve years.
Cities like Gardiner have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in state funding every year and say that has put more and more pressure on local property taxes to pay for local roads, schools, and all the other costs of running the communities.
Gov. Janet Mills has proposed to increase revenue sharing by 18 million dollars next year. But some lawmakers and local officials want to see it restored to the old level, which would cost more than 100 million dollars, according to the Maine Municipal Association.
"It's not that it would make so much difference to city hall, but it would make a difference to the people that live and work in municipalities around the state," said Gardiner City Manager Christine Landes. "It would reduce their mill rate, make it easier to afford taxes, maybe promote a little growth."
Rep. Tom Harnett (D-Gardiner) is sponsoring a bill that would restore revenue sharing to the old five percent level it was at in 2006, when it was fully funded.
"The impact has been profound. There are so many people concerned about ever-rising property taxes and fearful of losing their homes -- homes in some cases in their families for generations," said Harnett.
The Legislature's taxation committee heard four bills for raising revenue sharing on Tuesday afternoon. Three of these bills would restore revenue sharing to the old five percent level. Another would amend Maine's constitution to require funding at that level.
Senate Republican leader Dana Dow told NEWS CENTER Maine he would love to see revenue sharing restored but wonders where the money would come from.