Cape Elizabeth proposed budget down 3 percent

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The $8.5 million budget includes regionalizing dispatch
CAPE ELIZABETH — Town Manager Michael McGovern will present his initial 2010 budget at the Town Council meeting March 9.
The proposed budget involves a 3 percent decrease from this year’s funding, bringing levels near those seen in the 2007 budget. The $8.5 million budget proposed would cause a property tax decrease of .5 percent for municipal services, or 2 cents per $1,000 assessed property value – a $65 savings to the average homeowner.
Property taxes also reflect the school budget, which is currently being workshopped by the School Board. The currently proposed school budget involves a 2 percent increase and would add 50 cents to the mil rate if passed as is.
The municipal budget includes involuntary layoffs for the first time in decades, according to McGovern, and includes a controversial proposal to regionalize emergency dispatch at an annual savings of $132,000.
The original dispatch consolidation plan involved joining the county dispatch service, which is based out of Windham. Further discussions are ongoing about instead joining Portland and South Portland. Savings for the metro option are still being evaluated.
The public has so far been outspoken against the consolidation proposal, hoping to preserve the local knowledge of the dispatchers currently employed by the town.
Costs are also proposed to be cut through the following measures:
• Reducing police overtime by having the captain and other administrative staff work road shifts.
• Reducing the full-time facilities manager to a half-time position.
• Consolidating positions in the town clerk’s office.
• Eliminating heavy item cleanup.
• Allowing year-round hazardous waste collection at the Recycling Center instead of one or two days each year.
• Decreasing the number of street lights in town.
• Cutting personnel to achieve a 5 percent savings in wages and benefits paid.
The facilities manager position cut is expected to draw criticism from the School Board, because the schools also depend on the position. The School Board recently discussed the possibility of needing to add to their own budget to compensate for the loss generated by the municipal cut.
Fee increases to generate more town revenue are also being suggested, including increased Recycling Center fees for certain materials. McGovern also hopes that Fort Williams Park will become self-sustaining, and will recommend that the Fort Williams Advisory Commission and the Town Council work together to brainstorm revenue-generating measures.
The council will hear McGovern’s report March 9 and forward it to the Finance Committee, which will begin workshopping March 19. A public hearing on the municipal budget is set for April 13 at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

Sarah Trent can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 108 or

CAPE ELIZABETH — A proposed 2 percent increase to the school budget is expected to be adopted at the School Board meeting Tuesday, March 9. Included in the $20 million budget are more than $800,000 in reductions. The adopted budget will be forwarded to the Town Council and Finance Committee, which will review and potentially revise it. The public is set to vote on the school budget May 12. If it doesn’t pass, further referendum dates have been set in June and July.

CAPE ELIZABETH — New to this year’s budget process are detailed background information from the Town Manager and the opportunity for ongoing public comment on a blog set up by the town.
Detailed background information on all municipal and special funds budgets are available on the town Web site.
The blog, which allows anonymous entries and includes information from Town Manager Michael McGovern, is located at