All Maine Matters

September 2006



This Month’s Issue
Read November’s Issue of All Maine Matters.


Low Bandwidth - Text Only

Designed by Laisha

All Maine Matters

Because All of Maine DOES Matter!
Vol. 1, No. 9      September 2006 FREE

Taxes & Rural Cleansing
by Ken Anderson

Rural cleansing takes another step forward, as Maine seeks ways in which to tax people out of the rural areas and into the cities and other designated service center communities throughout the state.

It's nothing new. Citing concerns about sprawl, and pushed by groups such as GrowSmart Maine, Governor Angus King supported "smart growth" policies intended to depopulate the state's rural areas, making the land available only to the state, federal government, and a very wealthy elite that includes several environmental organizations. Governor John Baldacci continued the agenda with his regionalization plans, designed to suck the life out of already struggling rural communities throughout the state, placing them under the jurisdiction of larger service center communities, which were designated by the state.

In support of his regionalization plans, Baldacci referred to the "Australian model" of regionalization, but without mentioning that the Australian model was not very popular among Australians, particularly those who had hoped to be able to reside in the rural towns and villages that had been theirs for generations. Governor Baldacci forgot to tell you that the Australian model was one in which some, mostly larger, cities and towns were arbitrarily chosen to become service center communities, and to preside over the deaths of their more rural neighbors.

If you research globalization plans, you'll find Australia named, along with China, as the leaders in regionalization. This isn't about communities working together at all; it's about some select cities and towns splitting the spoils that are left after planned economic disadvantages depopulate the rural areas of our state.

At a recent conference organized by GrowSmart Maine, Governor Baldacci spoke of the cost of sprawl to taxpayers. According to the governor, Maine spends millions of dollars each year expanding public infrastructure, not because of a growth in the state's population but because people are moving away from the service centers, where he would like to confine them. As a result, those who live in service center communities are footing the bill for those who live in the rural areas.

Yet, the people who live in the unorganized territories pay for their own schools, roads, and firefighting needs. As compared to the service center communities, which are always looking for a handout from the state, the UT receives little or no aid from Augusta. In fact, those who live in the UT don't even get to vote for the people who are charged with representing them.

Still, the state of Maine is moving forward with its agenda of depopulating the rural areas through economic hardship, a withdrawal of opportunities, and now, a plan to force rural citizens to pay taxes to nearby larger cities and towns which they may never even visit, let alone depend upon.

Last year, the governor convened a commission for the purpose of drafting legislation which would impose higher taxes upon the residents of Maine's unorganized territories, the additional revenue to be distributed to the state's designated service center communities.

The stated argument is that those who live in the UT are making use of services, facilities, and infrastructure contained in the service center communities for which they are not paying their fair share, the idea being that if Bangor decided that it needed a new civic center, people from all of the surrounding areas should be required to help them pay for it.

Other reasons given for benefiting designated service center communities at the expense of other communities are concerns about sprawl, as people move from the larger cities and towns to more peaceful areas of the state, whereas the state's regionalization and globilization plans would have them instead herded into assigned human habitat areas.

At this point, only homeowners in the unorganized territories are being targeted for this new tax, as large landowners are exempt.

Currently, the taxes assessed in the unorganized territories are based on the cost of services provided by state and county government, such as fire protection and law enforcement, but the largest portion going to public education. The UT does not receive school subsidies from the state.

Nevertheless, the minimal services in the unorganized territories have typically resulted in lower property taxes. Yet despite the minimal services provided to residents of the UT, advocates of the new regional tax view these lower tax rates as an disparity that needs to be corrected.

If enacted, this new regional tax would reduce the amount of money available for projects within the unorganized territories, leaving property owners to make up the difference through higher mill rates in the UT, except for the larger landowners, who will be exempted. Meanwhile, the costs of services provided to residents in the UT would not go down, other than from people moving from the rural areas to the larger towns and cities, nor would any new services be added.

With the state's Land Use Regulation Commission (LURC) currently assessing Plum Creek's development plan for the Moosehead Lake region, Greenville has latched onto the regional tax plan as a means in which that service center community can get its fingers into the Plum Creek pie.

Greenville's town manager, John Simko, suggests that half the property tax revenue collected from the UT be distributed to service center communities, including Greenville, rather than used to provide services to those within the unorganized territories who are paying the tax. Simko argues that this revenue, in the case of the Plum Creek development, would be used to help pay the cost of new infrastructure necessary to meet the increasing demands that are likely to be placed on the town of Greenville.

If, as Simko suggests, the Plum Creek project would put such unreasonable demands upon the town of Greenville, one might wonder why he was such an avid supporter of it. His strong support for the Plum Creek project would indicate to me that he sees it as presenting positive, rather than negative results for the town that he represents. Otherwise, he wasn't properly representing the town that he serves.

If the Plum Creek project is such a threat to the town of Greenville, Simko should be working against it rather than supporting it, and then expecting someone else to foot the bill. As residents of the UT do not vote in Greenville municipal elections, they should not be expected to pay taxes to the town of Greenville.

If the citizens of Bangor feel that they need a new Civic Center, then Bangor taxpayers should pay for it.

Something about taxation without representation comes to mind.

Ken Anderson is, among other things, the editor of the online news outlet Magic City Morning Star, on the web at

About Us | Site Map | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | ©2006 All Maine Matters