City and town officials aren't likely to be happy about the proposed elimination of an already gutted municipal revenue sharing program in Gov. Paul LePage's comprehensive tax reform plan. But what to make of the provisions that promise to fill the gap with new tax money?

The state's municipal revenue sharing program returns a percentage of sales, service provider, personal and corporate income tax receipts to towns each month. The totals fluctuate based on sales, but for most of its 40-year history, revenue sharing has been a predictable and large revenue line in municipal budgets.

Over the past six years the state has reeled in the program, leaving municipalities with a fraction of what they used to get.

In the 2000-2001 fiscal year, Belfast got roughly $576,000 in revenue sharing. The payments took a similar line to the housing market in the years that followed, peaking at nearly $950,000 in 2007-08, then dropping sharply.

In 2013-14, the city got $335,967 — roughly the same amount, in actual dollars, as in 1990-91, the first year of reports available through the Office of the State Treasurer's online database.

LePage has made no secret of his interest in eliminating municipal revenue sharing and his new tax plan would do just that. After a year of flat funding in FY 2016, the program in 2017 would cease to exist.

In exchange, the governor is proposing that municipalities be allowed to tax 50-percent of the value of properties owned by many private nonprofit entities after subtracting the first $500,000 in value. They would also get to keep proceeds from telecommunications excise tax ($9 million statewide) in exchange for taking over the job of collecting it from the state.

LePage contends that nonprofits use government services and should therefore be asked to pay a share. The new provisions would not apply to churches and government entities.

Leaving aside the larger question of taxing tax exempt organizations, the benefits of hitting up nonprofits would be uneven. Towns that happen to have large nonprofits within their borders would be able to collect more. Those with none would be out of luck.

The latter category includes 10 of Waldo County's 26 municipalities, according to a 2013 report from the Maine Revenue Service Property Tax Division. These towns show no listed value under the two categories of nonprofit organization — "Benevolent & Charitable" and "Literary & Scientific" — that would subject to taxation under the governor's plan.

Five other towns have less than $500,000 in total nonprofit value in these categories according to the report, meaning they would have no chance of benefiting from the new rules.

With the exception of Unity, which has more than $18 million in nonprofit value owing largely to Unity College, most of the nonprofit value in Waldo County lies along the coast.

But even in communities that have more nonprofits, it's not clear how much of it would, or should, be subject to taxation.

Belfast, with more than $70 million in listed nonprofit value, might fare well if officials adopted the taxation policy, but the city's neighbor to the east is more typical.

Searsport has roughly $2.8 million in nonprofit value, not counting churches and veterans' organizations. Town assessor Bill Terry said he had yet to review the figures in light of the governor's proposal, but said he could only think of one local nonprofit that definitely met the $500,000 threshold: The Penobscot Marine Museum.

Terry also mentioned a woodland parcel owned by Coastal Mountains Land Trust that he said might qualify based on its value but he said wouldn't be an obvious candidate for taxation because it was acquired to offset environmental damage from a Central Maine Power expansion and could not be developed.

Terry said Searsport used to get around $300,000 per year in municipal revenue sharing. In 2013-14 the town got $143,705, according to figures from the State Treasurer's Office.

LePage will be in Belfast on April 28 for a Town Hall meeting about his comprehensive tax reform plan. The event runs from 6-7 p.m. at the University of Maine Hutchinson Center.