Last night the city’s finance committee voted unanimously (3-0) to forward Mayor Ethan Strimling’s senior tax equity program, (P-STEP), on to the city council for its consideration. The proposal requires two reads; the first read comes on October 2 and the second read at the November 6th meeting. Councilor Nick Mavodones is the chair of the Finance Committee.
If passed, P-STEP will provide an average of $300. in tax/rent relief for the city’s most needy seniors (62 plus) according to a press release from the city’s spokeswoman, Jessica Grondin.
Since 2013, property taxes in Portland have risen a total of 15%, equaling an increase of about $680. for the average home. Further, rents have climbed 20% – 40% between 2010 and 2015 – a fact that has received national attention. During that same time, that increased cost of housing has outpaced incomes – especially for seniors with fixed or low-incomes. Since 2013, social security benefits have risen only 5.3%. P-STEP aims to keep some of Portland’s most vulnerable neighbors in their homes by reducing their financial burden.
The program utilizes the State of Maine Property Tax Credit Program. The State program was enacted in 2013 to address concerns that Mainers were using an increasing amount of their income for paying rent and/or property taxes. Accordingly, 1,000 seniors living in Portland use the state credit. It is estimated that P-STEP would cost Portland approximately $250,000 should it be approved by the Council in next year’s fiscal budget. City manager Poor Jon will have to find a way to make up the difference in future budgets.
The City of Portland, specifically, the Housing Hoax Committee under the chairmanship of councilor Jill Duson, has neglected its responsibility to assist renters during this crises. So, others – individuals and groups alike – have popped up taking steps to do what Duson and vice chairman David Brennerman of the Housing Hoax Committee have failed to do on behalf of Portland residents. Too-long-in-Office Duson is up for re-election this November.
Councilor Duson needs to be replaced because of her failure to act on behalf of renters and other issues. She needs to be replaced by Joey Brunelle, a resident of Munjoy Hill, web creator and the only progressive in the race. (Steven Biehl, who recruited Bree LaCasse to run against Joey Brunelle with whom he had a Nasty argument, promotes Bree as a progressive. That’s why Bree got into the race so very late in the contest. Biehl is also known as Portland’s Own Dirty Campaign Trickster. The rigid and unavailable for differing points of view Lacasse is not progressive. LaCasse is employed by a real estate developer. Mhn.com who attends numerous city meetings of all stripes, has yet to see Bree at any one of them. Why then is she running? What’s YOUR guess?)
Although Bree takes credit for the conversion of a waste space called Congress Square Park into a delightful space with lots of great activities, critics of hers say she was years late in coming to the Save the Square project. Bree should not be taking the credit that she attributes to herself for Saving the Square according to people with first-hand knowledge of the effort to which she came very late.
Various communities in Maine and New Hampshire have programs similar to the Tax Equity Program for Seniors initiated by Portland’s Mayor.
Mayor Strimling first unveiled the proposed program back in June 2017.