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Is the State Of Maine Attempting A Tax Swap with Maine's Home Rule?

In this  article from the Portland Press Herald , we find this sentence:
Brennan ( Mayor of Portland)  would also like to see a bill passed to allow regional tax increment financing, an incentive for economic development that returns property dollars to developers or regions without affecting state subsidies for education and the like.
I am guessing that what they mean is
"Brennan would also like to see a bill passed to allow regional tax increment financing, an incentive for economic development that returns property taxes to developers or regions without affecting state subsidies for education and the like."

In which case it looks like a direct attempt to  use linguistic cloaking to cover up what they are actually aiming to do.

Regional tax increment is a term that means using future projected property tax revenues to finance development. However it is often overlooked that with increased property tax revenue ,the need for municipal services also increases. However the increased property tax revenue is used to pay the dept, thus the need for a municipal sales tax to cover the cost of the increased municipal services that are usually paid for with property taxes. Instead of being budgeted to cover municipal services, the projected future increase in tax revenue is used as investment capital. The municipal sales tax revenue is derived from the retail sector without contributing anything to help the retail sector, in fact it hurts the retail sector as it gives  shoppers reasons to shop in another location where there is no municipal sales tax.
 
It is unclear why Brennan is encouraging the legislature to pass a bill governing the use of property tax revenues, since property taxes are clearly "local in nature and character" and so locally governed pursuant to the Home Rule Amendment of our state constitution- not by the state legislature. None the less the state legislature has repeatedly usurped the rights of local authorities ( the MRRA and the Loring Development - both chartered by the legislature as municipal corporations and both charters amended by the legislature even though the Home Rule Amendment places the authority to amend a municipal charter in the hands of the inhabitants of the municipality ). Perhaps Brennan feels he has a better chance of getting agreement by taking it to the legislature than by a vote by the inhabitants of the municipality, wherein the entire Portland retail sector would have a say in the matter.

The retail sector will be adversely affected by the creation of a municipal sales tax which becomes necessary when the use of property tax revenue is reallocated from funding municipal services to use as investment capital. Appealing to the legislature to statutorily bypass the constitution, as the legislature has done so many time before, is a betrayal of Portland's retailers and of all the inhabitants of the municipality of Portland. The power elite has been getting away with usurping local power in this state because no one challenges them. If they are not challenged this time around the micro economy will take another big hit in what is becoming a long extended battle between the micro economy and Maine State Enterprises.

The move by the municipality of Portland to use its property tax revenues as investment capital- all the while touting its horn as "Maine's economic engine" is not a violation of the Home Rule Amendment if it is a decision made by the inhabitants of Portland but if the state legislature passes a statute regulating the use of property taxes and at the same time initiating a municipal sales tax, it  implicates Maine State Enterprises in trying to do a swap out and grab property taxes for its own purposes while dumping an economic slow  down on the micro economy at the same time that the micro economy is expected to cover the cost of municipal services.

Maine State Inc. Maine's state corporate network, whose primary function is to redistribute capital to special interests, looks dangerously similar in its "investment" function as does the "property tax increment financing". In a state wherein all that is needed is the word "quasi" to merge anything- even legally mutually exclusive entities into one, this is something about which we should be wary. Portland is also a big benefactor of Maine State Inc's redistributive function and there is likely already a network of special interests involved in the attempt to take Portland's property taxes as "economic development" investment capital- at the expense of those who see little benefit from the states economic development initiatives.

Property taxes are "local and municipal in character" and so if the legislature tries a maneuver to transfer those taxes to state control, it is a hard to contest violation of the Home Rule Amendment to the State Constitution.




Article VIII.

Part Second.

Municipal Home Rule.

Section 1.  Power of municipalities to amend their charters.  The inhabitants of any municipality shall have the power to alter and amend their charters on all matters, not prohibited by Constitution or general law, which are local and municipal in character.  The Legislature shall prescribe the procedure by which the municipality may so act.
Section 2.  Construction of buildings for industrial use.  For the purposes of fostering, encouraging and assisting the physical location, settlement and resettlement of industrial and manufacturing enterprises within the physical boundaries of any municipality, the registered voters of that municipality may, by majority vote, authorize the issuance of notes or bonds in the name of the municipality for the purpose of purchasing land and interests therein or constructing buildings for industrial use, to be leased or sold by the municipality to any responsible industrial firm or corporation.



The "regional sales tax" reeks of an attempt underway to swap out the more stable property taxes- stealing them from the municipalities and to transfer property taxes to state control , where they can be important tools in the state's bribing agenda- offered to the favored economic sectors. In exchange - give the municipalities the booby prize- municipal sales taxes- to cover the costs of municipal services which are currently covered by property taxes.

A regional sales tax is utterly insane- and just an indicator the insanity that currently is governing Maine. I wonder if a municipal sales tax would also include a municipal use tax so that if the inhabitants of a municipality purchase any taxable items outside of their own municipality, they can be charged for "using" the items purchased, by the municipality in which they reside- as modeled on our state's sales and use tax.?

The motivation for the "use tax" was claimed to be to protect instate retailers- about the only time I am aware of that our state has ever been concerned about the welfare of the retail sector. LePage would love to see an internet sales tax- although the state makes no contribution to the success of an online retail business-at least nothing that isn't already being taxed. In 2013 the state taxes just because it can- no further justification needed. Some sectors are represented but not taxed and so it is only reasonable that other sectors should be taxed without being represented. 


The municipal sales tax puts the lie to the claim that the "use tax" ever had anything to do with helping in state retail businesses. It would pit town against town and if the real motivation is to swap out property taxes to state control and give the town's municipal sales taxes, it pits what is advantageous for competitive business (no municipal sales tax) VS funding municipal services- which if not funded by property taxes would be funded by the municipal sales tax. Clearly there is little concern for either the welfare of the retail sector or the municipalities in such a proposal.

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