AUGUSTA – A coalition of mayors gathered at the State House on Wednesday to press lawmakers to approve measures to support infrastructure projects and improved Internet broadband service while preventing Republican Gov. Paul LePage from wiping out municipal revenue sharing.

The Mayors’ Coalition – which is made up of a dozen communities, including Portland, Augusta and Bangor – is supporting several measures before lawmakers this session, including bonds to fund road and bridge improvements and a proposal to have the state, rather than local school districts, directly fund charter schools.

But perhaps the group’s biggest challenge this year is stopping LePage’s effort to eliminate revenue sharing, which the mayors contend will drive up local property taxes. Gardiner Mayor Thomas Harnett said that recent revenue sharing cuts have already had a “debilitating” impact on his community and others.

LePage’s administration argues that revenue sharing hasn’t actually resulted in lower property taxes, as promised, and wants to provide more targeted tax relief to homeowners.

Jonathan LaBonte, director of the Governor’s Office of Policy and Management and the mayor of Auburn, said Wednesday that revenue sharing is partially to blame for the lack of political will at the local level to find efficiencies and limit spending.

Although Auburn is part of the Mayors’ Coalition, LaBonte said he disagrees with some of its ideas and didn’t join the other mayors when they presented their agenda Wednesday.


The coalition is also cool to LePage’s idea to allow municipalities to tax nonprofit organizations, even though several mayors acknowledged that their communities would benefit from the proposal. But they said that if the governor’s effort to eliminate revenue sharing is successful, the state must offer a way for the communities to collect more revenue.

“We need resources to run the communities,” said Rick McCarthy, a lobbyist for the coalition. “If the proposal to eliminate revenue sharing goes forward, then there needs to be actions taken – like the nonprofit tax – to allow us to keep local property taxes low.”

The group also said that filling the state’s $119 million infrastructure funding gap is vital to creating a robust economy. Among the measures it’s pushing is one from Democratic Rep. Andrew McLean that would authorize a $190 million bond for highway, bridge, ports, passenger railroads and other improvements.

“In order to keep this state an interesting investment opportunity for people outside the state, it’s really essential that we address our infrastructure needs,” said Dave Rollins, mayor of Augusta.

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