Cumberland eyes potential 1.4% municipal tax hike

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CUMBERLAND — A preliminary municipal budget projects a 1.4 percent tax increase next year.

The town’s $10.35 million budget could increase 3.6 percent in fiscal year 2017, to $10.73 million. That includes a 3.7 percent Cumberland County tax increase – from about $747,000 to $775,000. It does not include a to-be-determined School Administrative District 51 assessment.

The approximately $371,000 municipal budget increase also includes a $185,000 hike in debt service for the beachfront Payson Property, now called the Broad Cove Reserve. Voters approved the $3 million purchase of the Foreside Road property in 2014.

A $100,000 increase in employee insurance has also been factored into next year’s budget hike.

“It’s a pretty hefty expense,” Town Manager Bill Shane said in an interview last week. “We’re looking at putting together a task force in April to deal with insurances moving forward. … We’re going to try and figure out a new policy, new plan, for financing insurances, because they’ve just gotten so high.”

The town pays nearly $500,000 annually for health insurance, he added, noting that, for the second year in a row, Cumberland will see a 20 percent hike.

Cumberland’s tax base grew by $362,000 over the last year, according to Shane, who factored 30 percent of that amount – nearly $109,000 – to bring next year’s tax increase down to 1.4 percent.

Budget workshops will be held March 7 and 14 at Town Hall at 6 p.m., followed by a meeting Saturday, March 19, that begins at 8 a.m. at Town Hall that will continue until the work is complete.

The Town Council may vote on next year’s spending plan at its Monday, March 28, meeting, which begins at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

More budget information, as it becomes available, will be posted on the Finance Department page at cumberlandmaine.com.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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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.