Casco official reacts to LePage tax plan

By Dawn De Busk

Staff Writer

CASCO — Casco residents have been asking Town Manager Dave Morton what kind of impacts Gov. Paul LePage’s proposed tax plan might have on their lives, particularly on their property taxes.

Morton’s simple answer has been: He cannot completely predict the outcome of the proposed tax reform. Secondly, it is likely it will impact individuals differently, he said.

“I cannot tell people for certain whether what the governor is proposing will help them or not,” he said.

During the Casco Board of Selectmen meeting on Tuesday, Morton offered his take on one simmering hot topic from LePage’s State of the State address this month.

“The governor is proposing a radical change to taxes. For that I applaud him. The Maine tax structure has needed an overhaul,” Morton said.

“The Maine Governor has taken the bull by the horns, or whichever end he grabbed,” he said.

Although he did commend LePage for his objectives, Morton said he did not agree with the methods being presented.

“I am encouraging people to look at it very closely,” he said.

He also suggested people listen to the governor’s forums as he travels around the state, gathering support for his tax reform plan.

“The proposals are going to increase property taxes. It is not a reduction in taxes, but a shift in the burden,” he said.

“The only way to reduce taxes is to reduce spending,” he said.

“The increase in sales tax — I don’t see how that will offset” the proposed elimination of the state income tax, Morton said.

The loss of State Revenue Sharing fund could result in a 33-cent hike in the town’s tax rate, he said.

That property tax increase does not take into consideration less aid to School Administrative District (SAD) 61 and other factors like the loss of the General Assistance (GA) reimbursement from the state, he said.

Plus, many home-owning residents will no longer qualify for one tax deduction.

“If you look at the Homestead Exemption, currently all of us who own homes get it. Now, it is only for people who are 65 or older,” he said.

“People need to be aware of these changes on the state level, and how those affect them personally,” he said.

 

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