Read the full report | A startling picture of dropping population in Maine’s towns combined with an increasing property tax burden is creating a vicious economic cycle of declining prosperity throughout Maine. This cycle illustrates the need for the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (Question 4) provision which will be on the November ballot. Consider these facts:
· Population data from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Census Bureau reveals that, between FY 2008 and FY 2009, 58 percent of all Maine towns lost population. These towns represent 55 percent of Maine’s population – so it’s not just a small town problem. Overall, these towns lost 3,056 people (0.4 percent population) falling to 719,538 from 722,594 residents.
· As a result of population decline, these towns are being thrown into a property tax crisis. Despite this drop in population, these towns collectively increased their property tax collections by $45 million to $1.082 billion in FY 2009 from $1.037 billion in FY 2008. This rising property tax burden can lead to a vicious cycle where it pushes more folks to leave which, in turn, increases the property tax burden on remaining residents which, in turn, pushed more folks to leave and so on.