thumbs down

THUMBS UP to a report this week that moose-car collisions are on the downswing, despite at least four such crashes this week.

According to the Maine Department of Transportation, there were an average of about 674 moose-car collisions from 1995 through 2007. During the next five years, however, the average dropped to about 443, and after only 385 last year there have been just 113 this year through July 9.

Unfortunately, one of those was fatal, and another, involving David Richards of Skowhegan, in which the moose broken through the top of the vehicle, shows how truly frightening the collisions can be.

Most moose-vehicle collisions occur in late spring and early summer, when the animals are coming out of the woods to find food and escape bugs.

If a driver cannot avoid a moose in the road, the state recommends crouching down in the car and releasing the brake just before impact, so the car rises higher in the air.

But the eyes of a moose don’t reflect quite like a deer’s, so the huge animals often fade into the night when they stand on rural Maine roadways. They seem to appear without warning, making a controlled reaction difficult.

The state attributes the decrease in collisions to public outreach and an increase in hunting in Aroostook County. A biologist said the moose population in the north has reached the desired level. Let’s hope the word to be careful continues to spread to motorists.

THUMBS DOWN to a recent state report showing Mainers are getting even less property tax relief than expected after the demise of the so-called circuit breaker program.

Under the new Property Tax Fairness Credit, created in 2013, residents were expected to receive $34 million in property tax relief, as opposed to the $60 million they would have received under the circuit breaker. According to the Maine Center for Economic Policy, however, the new credit is falling short of its forecast by $9 million to $12 million.

A cap on the Property Tax Fairness Credit is largely to blame. The program could work well if it is expanded. Otherwise, a return to the circuit breaker is preferred to provide a break from regressive property taxes that often overburden low- and middle-income residents.

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