HOULTON, Maine — Town officials on Tuesday evening made their feelings about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights, or TABOR II, very clear — they oppose it, fearing that passage of the measure in part would undermine and add expense to an already well-established budget process.
TABOR II is a referendum proposal on November’s ballot that seeks to put limits on tax increases and state and local government spending. The proposal would require voter approval of any increases in government spending beyond the rates of inflation and population growth.
It is Question 4 on the Nov. 3 ballot.
The proposal is similar to a ballot initiative that failed at the polls in 2006.
Supporters insist that TABOR II would rein in government spending and save taxpayers money in the long term. Opponents counter that the restrictions would force drastic cuts to education, public safety, health care and other social services.
Town councilors voted 5-0 in favor of a resolution opposing TABOR II.
“Many towns have passed resolutions in opposition to it,” Town Manager Douglas Hazlett said Tuesday evening. “I don’t think it is the right policy for the state.”
Right now, the town passes its budget after a detailed analysis by residents and town officials. A public hearing is held before the budget is voted on. Hazlett pointed out that if TABOR II passes, it would mandate that the vote would have to go out to referendum. If the referendum vote fails to approve the budget approved at the public hearing, then the process starts over.
“I think it is a slap in the face to our [municipal] charter,” he said. “We have a more-than-ample budget process. The referendum would add expenses and time to putting the budget together.”
Councilor John Fitzpatrick agreed, as did Councilor Sue Tortello, who urged voters to get informed about the issue before Election Day.