An attorney for the town of Damariscotta has drafted legislation that would allow service centers to impose a local sales tax, and the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen discussed whether to back the bill Wednesday, Nov. 28.
Town Manager Matt Lutkus said Selectman Mark Hagar brought the topic up at the last meeting of the Maine Service Centers Coalition on Nov. 14.
“The thought is that other towns should contribute,” Lutkus said. He said that as a service center, Damariscotta has certain financial responsibilities, such as a school, police department, and expensive equipment, like a ladder truck, that nearby, more rural towns do not have.
Lutkus asked attorney Amanda Meader to draft legislation that would allow service centers to enact a local sales tax.
If the Maine State Legislature passes such a bill, residents of Lincoln County would need to vote to allow a local sales tax, then the town would need to impose one, according to the draft bill.
The town would keep some of the money, while a portion would go to the county to offset the county tax, according to Lutkus.
The tax would exclude some items, such as motor vehicles, according to the draft bill.
According to the draft, the law would give Damariscotta a net increase in tax revenue, increase the percentage of its tax revenue that is generated by nonresidents, and cause it to be less reliant on state revenue-sharing.
Similar bills have gone before the Legislature in the past and failed, Lutkus said.
State Rep. Mike Sylvester, D-Portland, is attempting to get a similar bill passed, according to the Portland Press Herald. Lutkus said it may make sense for the town to support Portland’s bill, rather than attempt to have its own bill introduced.
The selectmen did not want to either support or reject the idea until an email goes out to residents asking for their feedback, Lutkus said.
The selectmen will discuss the idea further at their next meeting, which will take place at the town office at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5.
The town hired the engineering firm Gartley & Dorsky Engineering & Surveying Inc., which has an office in Damariscotta, to conduct a survey and design improvements to the drainage in an area behind the homes on Vine and Church streets, Lutkus said.
The firm will prepare an estimate for how much it would cost to fix the drainage, which will allow the town to budget for the project.
The town will pay for the $3,150 contract from the public works budget, according to Lutkus.
Because the cost is less than $5,000, it did not require the selectmen’s approval.
The town office will close at noon on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve.
The next selectmen’s meeting will take place at the town office at 5:30 p.m., Wednesday, Dec. 5.