Cape Elizabeth municipal budget proposal reduces spending

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CAPE ELIZABETH — Municipal general fund spending will be reduced by 1 percent if the fiscal year 2013 budget presented Monday by Town Manager Michael McGovern is enacted.

Town councilors unanimously accepted the $8.8 million budget to be reviewed by the finance committee comprised of the entire seven-member council. Councilors also forwarded a fiscal year 2013 special fund budget of $3.26 million to the finance committee.

The current tax rate is $15.18 per $1,000 of assessed value. The proposed municipal budget would account for about $3.37 of a possible tax rate of $15.82 per $1,000 of assessed value for fiscal year 2013.

A preliminary school budget released last month contains a 3 percent spending increase that could add 50 cents to the overall tax rate. An additional 14-cent tax rate increase would result from shifting operations at the Donald Richards Community Pool from the municipal general fund budget.

The shift helps reduce municipal spending by $92,000, McGovern said in his budget outline. Keeping pool operations in the municipal budget would have added $255,000 to fiscal year 2013 expenses.

In an email, McGovern said the shift made sense because pool employees are school employees who are supervised by municipal employees.

“The chain of command will be clearer,” McGovern said, because Community Services is overseen by the School Department.

Within the general fund budget is an increase of $147,000, or 3.4 percent, in municipal employee pay. McGovern said payroll accounts for 50.3 percent of the total municipal budget, and employee benefits account for 37 percent of the total payroll. Benefit costs are budget to increase by 0.3 percent, or $2,500.

McGovern’s budget includes continued reductions in debt service, from about $975,000 this year to $934,000 in fiscal year 2013. An increase in the town recycling rate reduces town trash disposal fees by $37,000 to $582,000.

One area of uncertainty are fuel and heating costs, McGovern said. The current budget contains rates of $3.30 per gallon for heating and $3.10 per gallon for motor fuels. The fiscal year 2013 budget allocates $508,000 in fuel costs.

“The market is very volatile as this is written,” McGovern said.

Property taxes will comprise 63 percent, or $5.5 million of the funding for the fiscal year 2013 budget. Excise tax revenues are budgeted to increase to $1.63 million, while state revenue sharing will remain at $622,000. McGovern’s budget proposes to use $350,000 in surplus funds.

Also included in the general fund budget is a capital improvements budget outlay of $722,500. The capital improvements budget funds equipment purchases including 150,000 for a new dump and plow truck.

Facilities and infrastructure projects in the capital improvements budget including $295,000 for road and sidewalk improvements.

The special funds budget covers operations for areas such as the Cape Elizabeth Rescue Fund, Cape Elizabeth Sewer Fund, Riverside Cemetery Fund and Portland Head Light Fund.

The preliminary fiscal year 2013 general fund and municipal budget information can be viewed on the town website. A public hearing on the municipal budget and council vote are scheduled for April 26.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or Follow David on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

Sidebar Elements

A list of possible improvement projects and the sale of lots to nonresidents are among suggestions in the updated Riverside Cemetery Master Plan in Cape Elizabeth. The plan will be discussed at a public hearing on April 9.

Public hearing set for cemetery master plan

CAPE ELIZABETH — Recommendations for improvements at Riverside Cemetery will be the topic of a Town Council public hearing at 7 p.m. April 9 at Town Hall.

The cemtery, next to Spurwink Church on Route 77, has been maintained by the town since 1945.

The master plan suggests nine possible improvement projects estimated to total between $218,000 and $318,000 to meet the needs of the cemetery through 2025.

Included are suggestions to improve views to the Spurwink Marsh by removing or controlling invasive plant species, adding more buffering between Route 77 and the cemetery grounds, and improvements to the flag circle area near the cemetery entrance.

The plan also suggests allowing lot sales to nonresidents. Current guidelines allow sales only to residents or nonresident taxpayers.

The master plan was drafted by the architectural firm of Mohr & Seredin with direction from the three-member Riverside Cemetery Board of Trustees and council liaison Councilor Frank Governali.

— David Harry

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.