Franklin Countys First News

Letter to the Editor: Vote for Jan Collins for District 17

Many Franklin County towns will be looking at another increase in property taxes this year. This increase in taxes has occurred at the same time as the Republican administration has claimed to be cutting taxes.

1. State budgets continue to rise. Although the current administration claims to be cutting taxes, the state budget continues to rise. Maine is required to do zero based budgeting which means we cannot borrow to fund the budget - we can only increase taxes.

2. Governor LePage cut revenue sharing by 60 percent (He proposed to do away with it.) Enacted in 1972, Municipal Revenue Sharing was originally designed to return five per cent of sales and income tax revenues back to municipalities where the revenues are originally generated and to reimburse towns for providing services mandated by the state, such as election administration, and to offset property tax increases. The state currently honors only 40 percent of its commitment. Farmington revenue sharing has dropped from a high of $713,196 in 2005 to a current figure of $443,000 in 2017. These decreases in revenue sharing were supported by votes of our local republican legislators.

Since municipalities are not allowed to establish their own sales tax, the only way to make up for this loss is to raise property taxes or cut services. Since this shifting of taxes to local communities has been going on for years, most communities have already cut all but essential services.

3. The state government continues to decrease its share of the cost of education in Maine. It has done this in two ways. First, it instituted a program called Essential Programs and Services. Basically, the state said the local district may think they are providing a basic education, but the state is only going to pay for a portion it considers essential. Next, the state decided they would pay for even smaller portions of those “essential” services. Although voters mandated that state government fund 55 percent of the state education, under the LePage administration that amount has decreased to 47 percent.

In addition, rural communities are reimbursed at a lower rate than urban communities.

Local communities must make up the difference between what the state has promised and what it actually provides with increases in property taxes.

4. The LePage administration shifted the cost of teacher retirement from the state to local school districts. In the 2017 to 2018 biennium that is a $46 million dollar shift in taxes from state to local property taxes. (The vast majority of teachers are not allowed to collect social security and are reliant on the state retirement system which was slashed by the LePage Administration.)

5. Recent income tax cuts by the LePage administration have benefited the rich. Rural counties have lower average incomes. Very few of us benefit from these cuts.

6. The LePage administration has increased sales taxes to 5.5 percent Because he cut revenue sharing, most of that money leaves our rural economies.

Under the LePage administration decreased taxes for the wealthy have meant increased taxes on the middle class and those with fixed incomes, but more than that, this has pitted community members against schools - the most important asset to the future of our communities.

We need to elect local representatives who will advocate for local tax relief at the state level. Jan Collins, candidate for the State Senate for District 17, understands the local tax burden and will make decreasing it a priority in her legislative agenda. Please take the time to vote on June 12.

Lisa Lisius RN, Farmington
Matt Allen, Wilton
Nancy Prince, Wilton
Lori Lewis, Wilton
Anne Smith, Strong
Dr. Christopher Smith, Strong

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4 Responses »

  1. Property taxes are rising because of SAD 9.

  2. Your rant reads like poorly thought out CNN talking points. "Lower income tax only helps the rich." that is not true. And he increased the sales tax to compensate for the drop in income taxes, Income taxes make up 42% of the state's budget, sales tax makes up 49%.

    "Teachers are not allowed to collect social security" You should have added, "because they don't pay into it." Currently in Maine If a teacher works for 25 years and earns $36,000 a year, they will receive $1500 a month, SS benefits, are roughly half that. I would say not having to pay into SS and keeping the retirement plan by the state is better. If you work the same job for 25 years and don't own your own home, you really suck with money.

    He reduced "Profit Sharing" to cover the other added expenses to the state, Why don't you mention that we have more people on Mainecare than ever. Maine has 1.7 million people, it also pays for 5,000 refugees, housing and medical, with little very little federal reimbursement.

    Schools don't need all of the programs they offer, foreign language classes can be cut, Music programs not essential, The laptop/tablet program, not essential. Schools need to trim the fat.

  3. Mr HB, perhaps you will understand the situation with Social Security vs, Maine State Retirement if I post a case for you to consider:

    An adult, after working full time in industry for 25 years, and paying into Social Security for those 25 years, plus an additional four years as a summertime worker in school, then switched careers. Total years of social security contributions at career switch time: 25 full-time employment years in Social Security, and 4 part time years in Social Security.

    After the career switch, 13 years of full-time work teaching in Maine. Those years also included 7 years of part time work at a second, and sometimes third job, paying into Social Security, while also teaching.

    Total for Social Security is now at 25 full time years, and 11 part time years.

    Total time so far in the Maine State Retirement System, 13 years, with maybe 5 more to go to retirement.

    Results: At retirement this individuals Social Security benefit, (which they contributed to for 25 full time years and 11 part time years, so far) will be reduced by about $280 per month because of the disconnect between Maine Pers, and Social Security.

    For this same individual, should they pass before their non working spouse, the non-working spouse would receive the typical reduced social security benefit and reduced Maine Pers benefit.

    If the persons spouse also worked under the system for Maine State Retirement, the Social Security benefit would again be reduced further.

    Since I am the adult worker in this case with 36 years of contributions going to social security and 13 so far in Maine State Retirement, I can tell you the net result for my spouse is likely to be a greatly reduced retirement benefit from my 37 years of contributions to Social Security, because she worked in education in Maine.

    Should she lose the benefit I earned by working, just because she works in education in Maine?

    The current law says she will lose almost all of the Social Security benefit I have earned by working and contributing into Social Security for 25 full time years and 11 part time years.

    I disagree with the current law because it does not treat teachers in Maine and their spouses fairly.

  4. Teachers, don't pay into social security, if they don't pay in, they can't draw out those retirement benefits. And you are correct on the amount she draws from your benefits if she has a state pension. Social security is and always has been income based, If you paid in 25 years, that is the amount they will look at when deciding benefits, state workers don't pay SS, State and federal retirement benefits are not like 401ks. the 25 years you worked paying into SS, the 4 part time years working in a school(state job) you didn't pay into SS. The total for the first part of the case is 32 years paid in to SS, and 17 working state jobs. Now, under current laws, the spouse is entitled to your SS benefits and a portion of your of your state pension. If the surviving spouse only gets a state pension, the dead spouse's SS benefits are considered secondary income, they are subject to the administration's payment structure. If the surviving spouse was of retirement age and ONLY got SS, that spouse could draw the full SS benefits of the dead spouse, and depending on the type of state insurance/benefits package, maybe some of the dead spouse's state benefits as well, which would lower the amount of the dead spouse's SS benefits to the surviving spouse. It's a complicated system, but it is the system.