The Legislature recently debated a bill that would address fairness around excise taxes collected by communities. The bill establishes a study group to review and analyze current law regarding the location of payment of motor vehicle excise tax by public utilities as compared to other corporations.

Current law allows an owner of a public utility to pay excise tax for its motor vehicles to the place where it is registered or where its main office is located rather than where the vehicles are actually based.

One of those public utilities is Central Maine Power Co., which has service centers in several communities in Maine, and each of those centers has vehicles that are permanently based in these towns. CMP keeps about 35 vehicles in my town of Fairfield, yet these vehicles are registered in Augusta, where CMP’s corporate headquarters are located. In fact, the city of Augusta benefits from the excise tax of every CMP vehicle in the state, even though they are based, parked and deployed from other communities.

By requiring CMP to register its vehicles in the town in which they are housed, new revenue would be brought into Fairfield, as well as other towns around the state. The profits from the excise tax would be spent on paving roads and strengthening Fairfield’s infrastructure, roads that these vehicles use all the time.

Given that ratepayers in the utility’s service area pays the taxes, the money from the excise tax should benefit communities where the utility’s vehicles are housed. To do so is a matter of fairness.

Rep. Karen Kusiak, D-FairfieldHouse District 84