Daily Report |Legislature

Lawmakers nix probe into proposed toll hike

A legislative committee opted Friday not to launch an investigation into the Maine Turnpike Authority's proposal to raise tolls to help cover its debt. Sen. Margaret Craven, D-Lewiston, had requested the probe.

Members of the Legislature's Government Oversight Committee said asking the Office of Program Evaluation and Government Accountability to investigate the toll hikes wasn't necessary, according to the Bangor Daily News. MTA recently held a series of public hearings on its proposal to raise tolls 26% to generate another $26 million in revenue. Director Peter Mills said MTA needs additional revenue to pay off bonds that will come due over the next six years, but some Mainers, particularly those in the Lewiston-Auburn area, oppose the increases and have offered alternatives. MTA is considering 10 options that would raise tolls between 50 cents and $1 at various plazas, and board members will vote on the increase July 19.

OPEGA in 2010 conducted an investigation of the authority and found more than $200,000 in spending that wasn't documented, which ultimately led longtime director Paul Violette to resign. He was later charged with theft and is serving a three-year prison sentence.

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