Cumberland County passes $40.5 million budget for 2010

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PORTLAND — The Cumberland County Commissioners last week unanimously approved a  $40.5 million budget for 2010.

The approved budget is not expected to increase the tax rate for municipalities in Cumberland County. The budget maintains a mil rate of 52 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

County Manager Peter Crichton said the budget accounts for more than a $200,000 reduction in revenues, mostly in the Registry of Deeds. 

Cumberland County government has 13 departments with over 400 full-time employees. The county provides services like deeds, probate, sheriff’s patrol, the county jail, emergency management, the district attorney’s office and regional dispatch.

The 2010 budget contains no cost-of-living increases or merit raises for the county’s 100 non-union and management employees, while the 300 union employees will have to agree to health insurance concessions to receive a Cost of Living Adjustment.

Crichton said nearly $150,000 has been cut from several county departments and a 15 percent funding cut has been instituted for about a dozen agencies and organizations supported by the county.

“It’s been very much a bare-bones budget, understanding that times are such that we need to try and do our part in having no tax increase,” Crichton said.

While several agencies will see a reduced funding level, some will actually get more.

The Cumberland County Extension Association with the University of Southern Maine will receive nearly $30,000 more in funding, from $89,000 to nearly $120,000; the Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District, which is overseeing the clean-up of Long Creek, will receive $16,000, up from nearly $12,000; and the Center for Community Dental Health will receive $3,500, up from nearly $2,400.

In an executive summary to commissioners, Crichton said the slow housing market is reducing revenue brought in by the Registry of Deeds, which accounts for 65 percent of all non-tax revenue taken in by the county.

Crichton said he expects deed registry revenue to be down by as much as $200,000 this year. Next year’s budget accounts for a similar reduction of $175,000.

While the county is experiencing short-term revenue problems, Crichton said the county is otherwise in good fiscal health, noting its double-A-plus bond rating.

“In spite of our temporary setback in non-tax revenue this year, I would be remiss if I did not point out that we are financially strong as a county government, as evidenced by our long-term bond rating.”

Randy Billings can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 100 or [email protected]