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Tax cap ordinance passed in Mexico
MEXICO -- A tax ordinance, drafted by resident Albert Aniel and a lawyer who used to work for the Maine Municipal Association, will go into effect during the 2014-15 fiscal year.
On June 11, residents noted 289-193 to approve the ordinance that would cap the town's operating cost at $2,726,731, which is a 10 percent decrease in the previous year's operating cost.
The proposed municipal budget for 2013-14, which voters rejected the majority of on June 11, was $2.99 million, which was $13,767 more than the current year.
Aniel said the $300,000 the petition is talking about cutting would leave the town's municipal budget at the level it operated on about three or four years ago.
Aniel said during an April 23 selectmen meeting that he wanted the ordinance to take effect immediately, if it was voted through.
But at a later meeting, Town Manager John Madigan shared a letter from the town's lawyer stating that the ordinance could not go into effect until the following year.
“I'm sure it is far too late to have this ordinance be passed in effect for the 2013-14 fiscal year,” the lawyer wrote in an email to selectmen. “Accordingly, I believe this proposed ordinance, as amended, can only be applied to the 2014-15 fiscal year.”
Aniel said he first drafted the ordinance as a response to the tax increases the town has experienced the past few years.
“The Maine Revenue Services says Mexico has the highest mill rate in the entire state for the last four years and a lot of people have seen their property taxes go up 50 percent in the last three years. Realtors will tell you that some properties are 30 percent overvalued. There are over $300,000 in unpaid taxes," said Aniel.
He added, "I honestly believe that our high property taxes are an economic disincentive for our area. I don't think it's going to encourage people to come here when they face the highest mill rate in the state, or encourage enterprises and businesses to move here. Why should they?”
According to the ordinance, if residents approve it at the annual town meeting in June, it would be locked in for five years.
However, according to an April 30, 2013 correspondance to Madigan from town attorney Geoffrey Hole of Bernstein Shur, after contacting the Maine Municipal Association, that he's in agreement with MMA Legal Services that the proposed ordinance, if approved by voters, could be amended or repealed at any subsequent town meeting.