AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) – Officials from Maine’s cities and towns say their budgets can’t handle a further reduction in municipal revenue sharing.
Maine’s Appropriations Committee is considering a measure on Wednesday that would restore $40 million in municipal aid next year. The funds could be cut if lawmakers fail to find savings in the tax code.
Maine Municipal Association President Peter Nielsen says revenue sharing would fall to just $20 million next year and causing property taxes to skyrocket or some municipalities could be forced to cut essential services.
“The people of Maine expect certain things to be taken care of. They expect the roads to be plowed and sanded. That dialing 9-1-1 brings a prompt response. That elections will be held. That we help the needy,” Nielsen told the committee.
But the LePage administration is raising concerns about some of the ideas to pay for it. Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Sawin Millett says dipping into the rainy day fund, currently at about $60 million, will hurt the state’s credit ratings.
“I understand where you’re coming from. I know what you’re trying to do,” Millett told lawmakers. “I’m not speaking to your goals. I’m just speaking to my concerns about that budget stabilization fund. I want to do everything I can to protect it. I want to be here in May when we get our new rating and I don’t want to see that rating go down.”