Rep. Jeffrey Evangelos, I-Friendship, and Rep. William Pluecker, I-Warren, have submitted a bill for the 129th Maine Legislature to restore municipal revenue-sharing for the current fiscal year.

The bill, "An Act To Restore Revenue Sharing For Fiscal Year 2018-2019," if enacted, will restore the state's payments to each town and city in Maine, retroactive to July 1, 2018.

"The bill calls for the state to honor its original commitment to our towns, distributing 5 percent of sales and income tax revenues to our communities," Evangelos said. "This revenue will help our local towns provide essential property-tax relief to our residents, especially to our senior citizens and others living on fixed incomes. Health care and property-tax relief were the leading issues of the recent campaign and Rep. Pluecker and I want the voters to know we heard their concerns."

There have been recent discussions and proposals by legislators to allow municipalities to charge a local sales tax of up to 1 percent to help offset municipal shortfalls. Evangelos and Pluecker said they are opposed to these efforts.

"These sales tax proposals are highly regressive, draining money from residents that live in our small rural towns, hurting those on fixed incomes, and in effect subsidizing relatively wealthy communities like Camden and Rockland that have large shopping districts," said Evangelos. "These local sales taxes will also penalize many local businesses who want to purchase equipment to invest in their companies. The local sales tax is the wrong way to go."

Pluecker said, "Municipal revenue-sharing is a far better approach, and distributes money equally to each town, based on municipal populations, state valuations and tax assessments. Unlike the sales tax proposal, there are no winners or losers with revenue-sharing, each community gets a fair share."

Under current state law, municipal revenue-sharing is scheduled to return to the 5 percent formula beginning July 1, 2019. Pluecker and Evangelos agreed with a recent VillageSoup editorial that stated that "Over the past decade, state government under the leadership of both a Democratic governor and a Republican, has raided revenue-sharing dollars, taking $700 million. The result was to shift the tax burden to local governments and property taxpayers. This was also driven by the state's failure to provide adequate aid for schools."

Pluecker represents House District 95, which includes Warren, Appleton, Hope and east Union. Evangelos represents House Disrict 91, which includes Friendship, Washington, Waldoboro and west Union.