City Council opposes cuts to state revenue sharing, dumping tax
Rockland — The City Council voted 5-0 Jan. 13 to urge the Legislature to preserve the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program to avoid cuts in town services and increases in property taxes.
For more than 40 years, the state has reserved about 5 percent of sales taxes collected in Maine towns and cities to share with municipalities, which helps with the local property tax burden.
"The state's last-minute cuts to the Municipal Revenue Sharing Program for the FY 2014 and FY 2015 biennial budget threw municipal budgets for FY 2014 into disarray, necessitating draconian budget cuts, layoffs and tax increases in towns and cities across the state," the council states in its resolve.
In Rockland, the cuts forced the city to eliminate four positions, reduce hours in two other positions and spend $150,000 from reserve funds.
The council also voted 5-0 to oppose LD 1483, which would add a $14 per ton fee or tax on trash disposal. The measure could cost Rockland $70,000 per year. The Legislature will decide on the bill.
The council voted 5-0 to postpone continued discussions of a bond ordinance for a new public works garage until March 10.
The council voted 5-0 to have the acting city manager look into options for leasing to interested parties the city-owned former Sea Scouts building at Snow Marine Park.
In the fall, the city was approached by individuals and organizations interested in leasing or purchasing the building and some surrounding land.
The Harbor Management Commission has recommended that leasing the building is better for the city in the long-term than selling it.
Mayor Larry Pritchett said previously he knew one of the parties interested is a sea kayak rental that hopes to operate out of the building this spring/summer season.
Temporary City Manager Thomas Luttrell informed the council at the meeting that the city was unsuccessful in its application for a grant to fund extending Rockland's boardwalk across Harbor Park at the public landing. The council authorized city staff in November to go after the $200,000 Land and Water Conservation Fund grant to fund the project.
Community Development Director John Holden said he is looking into why the city did not receive the grant. He said Jan. 14 he heard the state did not receive as much federal funding as it had anticipated. It had about $200,000 total to award and received more than $660,000 in requests for funding. Out of six proposed projects, it funded two, he said.
Councilor Eric Hebert also announced that Rotary Winter Carnival, which had been planned for Feb. 2 has been canceled.
Courier-Gazette Editor Daniel Dunkle can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 122, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Daniel Dunkle is editor of The Courier-Gazette and news director for Courier Publications. He lives in Rockland with his wife, Christine, who also works for Courier Publications, and two children.
Dunkle has previously served as editor of The Republican Journal in Belfast. He has worked as a reporter and photographer in the Midcoast since 1998.