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Cumberland draft budget adds 8 cents to tax rate

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Cumberland draft budget adds 8 cents to tax rate

CUMBERLAND — Next year’s draft municipal budget shows a 0.34 percent increase, from $8.01 million in fiscal 2010 to $8.04 million in fiscal 2011.

Taking into account a 1.24 percent drop in revenues, the next budget could add 8 cents to the current property tax rate of $14.55 per $1,000 of property valuation, not including the impact of the school budget.

Town Manager Bill Shane said on Monday that the proposed budget includes no employee layoffs, and funds for the up-to $4.5 million Route 88 project, if voters approve the borrowing on Tuesday, March 2.

The budget also includes an increase from trash bag revenues and the sale of foreclosed property. Salaries for police and unionized public services employees would be unchanged, while non-union employees could have a 2 percent salary increase.

Shane said the town's full-time workforce has been reduced 17.5 percent since 2004, from 63 employees to 52. Health insurance contributions for those not actively participating in the town’s wellness program will be 20 percent, while the town will reduce the scope of its health insurance plan, which will require employees to pay a higher deductible, Shane said.

A budget workshop will be held in the Town Hall Council Chambers on Saturday, March 6. It will begin at 8 a.m. and is expected to run into the afternoon.

At 10 a.m. the police budget will be discussed. Jim Higgins of the Cumberland Taxpayers Association said his group has proposed regionalizing police services with Yarmouth or Falmouth, and going to one officer on duty per shift.

He noted that Gray, North Yarmouth, New Gloucester and Pownal do not have police departments and instead rely on coverage from the Cumberland County Sheriff’s Department.

“Our proposal, we feel, is halfway,” Higgins said.

Shane said the Police Department has already been cut from 11 full-time officers to nine, plus the school resource officer. Despite that reduction, the town still has the lowest crime rate in the Cumberland County, the manager said.

“The people in Cumberland have been accustomed to a high level of police service, and high visibility means a lower crime rate,” Shane said.

Alex Lear can be reached at 373-9060 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.