Maine Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes, Question 1 (2004)

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The Maine Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes Initiative, also known as Question 1, was on the November 2, 2004 ballot in Maine as an indirect initiated state statute, where it was defeated. The measure would have limited property taxes to one percent of the assessed value of the property. This would not have applied to property taxes or special assessments to pay the interest on or to retire any bonds approved by the voters prior to July 1, 1999, or to pay interest on or to retire any bonds for acquisition or improvement of real or personal property where the bonds were approved on or after July 1, 1999 by a two-thirds vote of the total votes cast on the particular bond proposal.[1][2]

Election results

Maine Question 1 (2004)
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No458,36962.79%
Yes 271,636 37.21%

Election results via: Maine Secretary of State, Elections Division: Referendum Election Tabulations, November 2, 2004

Text of measure

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Question 1: Citizen Initiative Do you want to limit property taxes to 1% of the assessed value of the property? [3]

Summary

The following description of the intent and content of this ballot measure was provided in the Maine Citizen's Guide to the Referendum Election:

This citizen-initiated legislation would limit the assessment of property taxes by any municipality or other form of local government to 1% of the so-called “full cash value” of the property, which is defined in the legislation to mean the assessed value of property as of the 1996-1997 tax year provided the property has remained in the same ownership since 1997. If ownership of the property has changed, or the property has been newly constructed since 1997, the tax assessment could not exceed 1% of the property's appraised value as of the date of the change in ownership or new construction. Property tax assessments (whether based on the 1996-1997 tax year assessment, or on an appraisal performed at a later date for properties purchased or constructed after 1997) could not be increased thereafter by more than 2% per year to reflect inflation based on the Consumer Price Index.

The definition of “change in ownership” excludes transfers between spouses that occur after April 1, 1999 , as well as transfers between parents and children that occur after the 1996-1997 tax year. Accordingly, property could be transferred between such family members after those dates without any change in the value upon which tax is imposed. The definition of change in ownership also excludes the acquisition, prior to January 1, 1999 or after passage of this Act, of property that is similar in size, utility and function, in order to replace property acquired by the government by purchase or by eminent domain.

The definition of “newly constructed property” means property constructed after April 1, 1999 , and excludes property that is reconstructed after being destroyed or after sustaining physical damage amounting to 50% of its value in a disaster declared by the Governor . Thus, such reconstruction could occur under those circumstances after April 1, 1999 without triggering any change in the valuation of the property for tax purposes.

The 1% cap on property taxes would not apply to property taxes or special assessments to pay the interest on or to retire any bonds approved by the voters prior to July 1, 1999, or to pay interest on or to retire any bonds for acquisition or improvement of real or personal property where the bonds were approved on or after July 1, 1999 by a 2/3 vote of the total votes cast on the particular bond proposal.

The initiated legislation provides that voters in any locality could decide, by a 2/3 vote at a general election, to impose other special taxes or fees, provided they were not imposed on real or personal property or on the sale of such property. Since municipalities are not authorized under existing Maine law to impose any special taxes, additional legislation may be required for this provision of the citizen initiative to be effective.

This citizen-initiated legislation, if approved by the voters, would take effect for the tax year beginning on April 1, 2005 . It provides that any change in real or personal property taxes made after that date for the purpose of increasing revenues, whether by increased rates or changes in the methods of computation, could be accomplished only by a two thirds vote of electors at a statewide referendum in a general election. The latter provision may not be effective, however, since under Maine 's Constitution the Legislature may amend any law whether it was originally enacted by the people or by the Legislature.

A “YES” vote approves the initiated legislation.
A “NO” vote disapproves the initiated legislation.

[3]

Maine Secretary of State, [1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Signature requirements for ballot measures in Maine and Laws governing the initiative process in Maine

A total of 51,255 petition signatures were submitted to put "An Act to Impose Limits on Real and Personal Property Taxes" before the state legislature. The secretary of state certified the measure. On April 30, 2004, the legislature adjourned without enacting the measure. Governor John Elias Baldacci, therefore, proclaimed on May 10, 2004, that the measure would be referred to the people at the November election.[1]

See also

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