Cape Elizabeth library fuels big budget, tax increases

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CAPE ELIZABETH — A 6.3 percent increase in municipal spending is expected for the 2016 fiscal year, according to a budget outlook prepared by Town Manager Michael McGovern.

McGovern created the overview because councilors last year asked if he could start preparing them early each year before budget season begins. On Jan. 12, he reported to councilors that this year’s budget of $9.2 million is expected to increase to $9.8 million for 2015-2016.

Over half of this increase is due to the recently approved library renovations. McGovern said taxes will increase at least 2.4 percent to pay the $300,000 bond cost for renovations. He said homeowners with homes valued at around $300,000 will see a $60 increase.

Councilor Molly MacAuslan in November predicted the average increase would be around $50.

McGovern said tax bills could also be affected by a proposal to eliminate the $10,000 homestead exemption for those under 65. He said this could add $168 to those homeowners’ tax bills.

The budget increase of $585,000 for 2015-2016 is due to several other things in addition to the library, including town employee pay and benefits rising 2.5 percent.

Additional human resource costs will be $30,000. This money will be used to hire a town and School Department assistant “to help with benefit administration and employee handbooks,” according to the town website. McGovern said the position will do “a whole host of other things,” as well.

McGovern said he also expects there to be a general 1 percent increase in miscellaneous spending. He said the town can also expect to pay $100,000 in capital fees according to the town’s approved capital stewardship plan.

McGovern said he expects to save $30,000 in energy costs because of lower oil prices.

The budget increase “is a much bigger percent increase than we’re accustomed to,” McGovern said. “We expected that coming into this with the library.”

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.