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Local aid cuts draw warning

Sales tax ballot question adds to concern

March 15, 2010
SOUTHBRIDGE — The town has learned it might find itself facing several possible fiscal issues over the next year.

Besides probable cuts to local aid in the fiscal 2011 state budget, Sen. Richard Moore, D- Uxbridge, warned local officials they could see an even deeper slice of their revenues taken if a ballot question to reduce the sales tax by more than half passes in November.

The sales tax cut "would be a problem because we would not be able to make it up," Moore said.

At present, it's 6.25 percent, but the question aims to cut it to 3 percent. It's sponsored by a group called Alliance to Roll Back Taxes, led by Libertarian former gubernatorial candidate Carla Howell, which claims on its Web site that passage would eliminate $2.34 billion from the state budget. The site alleges doing so would have "no effect on local spending nor on your property taxes whatsoever."

Howell also spearheaded a ballot question in 2008 aimed at phasing out state income taxes entirely, using essentially the same argument. Voters rejected that question by more than 2 to 1.

Talking to Southbridge department heads, Moore said state law currently requires two cents of the sales tax to be used for mass transit and school construction projects, so the cut would leave one cent "for anything else."

See Tuesday's Southbridge Evening News for complete coverage of community news.

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