Maine communities face the prospect of property tax increases unless the Legislature acts to protect revenue sharing.

Revenue sharing is a longstanding practice that provides towns and cities a small percentage of income and sales tax collected by the state in order to help municipalities keep property taxes down.

The state has a responsibility to provide municipalities $61 million in 2015. To do so, we must pass a measure to provide $40 million, as was agreed to in the two-year budget, or revenue sharing will fall to $21 million.

This would be a devastating reduction for our communities that rely on this funding for vital services such as education, public safety and public works. When our local economies are struggling to recover from one of the worst recessions in decades, spending cuts of this magnitude are simply unacceptable.

Scott Morelli, the city manager in my hometown of Gardiner, says that the city would lose $263,000. To make up for the loss, the city could raise property taxes by $107 on the typical Gardiner homeowner or lay off important town staff, such as police and firefighters.

Municipal budgets are stretched thin after taking yet another budget cut last year. Gardiner already is working with neighboring towns to absorb these cuts by consolidating services and sharing resources.

I understand that the residents of my district cannot afford to pay higher and higher property taxes as the state passes costs on to towns and cities. During these trying fiscal times, the people of Maine depend, now more than ever, upon the essential services our towns and cities provide.

We need to hold the line for our communities. A vote against revenue sharing is a vote to increase the tax burden on Maine communities and taxpayers.

Rep. Gay Grant, D-GardinerDistrict 59 (Gardiner-Randolph)

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