Chebeague could see slight budget increase in FY '14

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CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — The fiscal 2014 municipal budget could increase by about $12,000, while it appears now that the school budget may wind up about the same as in fiscal year 2013, Town Administrator Eric Dyer said last week.

Island voters approved a $2.88 million combined budget at Town Meeting last June, which included $1.96 million on the town side and nearly $919,000 for school expenses.

Dyer expects the tax rate to remain fairly flat, given a small projected increase in Chebeague’s valuation.

“We’re looking at things to be pretty well static,” he said.

The rate is currently $20.20 per $1,000 of property valuation, still lower than in 2008, the town’s first fiscal year after its secession from Cumberland, when the rate was $20.49. The rate was $19.95 last year.

The Board of Selectmen considered budgeting about $40,000 in extra capital reserve expenditures after its first capital budgeting meeting, which would be spent mostly on improvements to the Stone Wharf. But Dyer has recommended waiting a few years on making that increase, or making cuts in non-essential services to offset it.

The rising budget costs include increases in wages, benefits and insurance. Another increased cost is an approximately $3,500 hike in Cumberland County taxes.

The town is also planning for an approximately $1,800 increase in its law enforcement contract with the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office.

Possible reductions could come from a $6,400 decrease in solid waste management spending and a $7,600 cut in public services, Dyer said.

The Board of Selectmen is due to approve the budget May 22, and residents will vote on the spending plan at Town Meeting June 8.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.