Cumberland budget may see slight decrease

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CUMBERLAND — The proposed fiscal 2012 municipal budget is 0.27 percent less than that of the current year, and taxes on the municipal side may also be slightly down next year.

The nearly $8 million draft fiscal 2012 budget, down nearly $22,000 from this year, goes before the Town Council on Monday, March 14. With town revenues coming in at $3.6 million, the amount to be paid in taxes would be $4.3 million, about $8,000 less than this year. That amount does not take into account school costs.

Town Manager Bill Shane said next year’s budget sees a reduction in trash contracts and tonnages to ecomaine, health care cost increases, a 5 percent climb in insurance costs and 10 percent rise in utility expenses, 2 percent wage adjustments, new three-year Public Works contract and pending new three-year and police contracts, and a loss of about $274,000 in projected state revenue sharing for fiscal 2012.

“I’m hopeful that we’re going to get some of that back,” he said of the latter loss.

The town is saving money buy not replacing its human resources director and a clerk at the front counter, Shane explained. Nadeen Daniels had served as town clerk and HR director before leaving last August; Tamara O’Donnell took over as town clerk along with being tax collector, and Daniels’ daughter, Alyssa Daniels, has assumed HR duties along with her work as economic development director.

Shane noted that municipal spending has dropped by about $856,000 in the past five years, down from $8.8 million in fiscal 2007.

The current tax rate is $15.30 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

Shane said the draft fiscal 2012 budget has no increase in operations costs. Since the outcome of the school budget process is tough at this point to predict, he said, Shane anticipated that even with a flat budget on that side, School Administrative District 51 could see more state revenue reductions, resulting in a tax rate increase between 2.5 and 4.5 percent. More information will be available in the coming months.

The March 14 Town Council meeting begins in the Town Hall Council Chambers at 7 p.m.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net.

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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.