Protecting older residents from high property taxes

By Rep. Scott Cuddy | Mar 21, 2019

In Waldo County, we have a lot of blessings. We live in safe communities in one of the most beautiful areas in the world, with good schools and great neighbors. But, there are also problems that our communities struggle with.

While going door-to-door during my campaign, one of the problems I heard about most was property taxes. More specifically, I heard about how hard these taxes are on people living on a fixed income.

When I got to Augusta, I started attending the meetings of the bipartisan Caucus on Aging (“Caucus” is a $10 word for a group of people with a common purpose. There are more than a dozen caucuses in the Legislature, each one focusing on a specific issue). I quickly found that legislators of both parties from across the state recognize this as an issue and have different ideas of how to address it. I know that any solution that will pass the test of time has to have support from both parties, so I’m excited by the energy around this issue.

Years of cuts to revenue sharing and underfunding schools have put serious dents in the ability of towns to meet the needs of their citizens, and this has driven property taxes up. Under these circumstances, towns rely on property taxes for the revenue they need to operate. So, I have put forth a bill to improve an existing program giving an income tax break to people 65 and older.

Another option to assist Mainers with high property taxes is to revive a program that allows a homeowner of qualifying age to enter a program where the state pays the property taxes to the town. When the home is later sold, the state fund is paid back out of the sale proceeds. I like this option because the town gets paid in full, the state only puts up a one-time chunk of money to get started, and then the program essentially funds itself. I also like that Mainers can stay in the home they worked so hard to pay for, using the value of that home.

Another method is to improve the Homestead Exemption. A Maine homeowner enrolled in this program does not pay any property taxes on the first $20,000 of their property’s value. However, the state does not fully reimburse towns for this lost revenue. This means towns have to either cut services or raise rates.

I have listened to the people of my district about what is important to them, and now I’m trying to address those issues one-by-one. I want to address the issue of high property taxes in a bipartisan fashion that will continue no matter who is in office, and in a way that truly addresses the needs that exist.

I welcome your thoughts on these and other issues.

Rep. Scott Cuddy is serving his first term in the Maine House of Representatives. A lifelong Winterport resident, Cuddy serves on the Regional School Unit 22 school board, and formerly served on the Northeast Workforce Development Board and the Maine Center for Economic Policy board of directors. He is a member of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor and Housing. He can be contacted at 944-166 or Scott.Cuddy@legislature.maine.gov.

Comments (1)
Posted by: Carrie Bacon | Mar 26, 2019 21:20

I hope that Scott Cuddy is successful in getting an overwhelming majority of state legislators to agree with his proposal to greatly reduce property taxes for those of us 65 years old and older. We seniors have a drastically reduced income as many of us can no longer work because of medical issues, infirmity or just being too dang old to be hired.  That’s where a bit of compassionate fiscal relief from the government might well make the difference of whether or not we are able to remain in our own homes.  I urge the Maine legislature to do what is right and offer seniors property tax relief.



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