Divided Cape Elizabeth council OKs 3.8% budget increase

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The Town Council adopted a budget of almost $37.9 million for fiscal year 2017.

The council on May 19 approved the combined municipal, school, and county budget 4-2, with Councilors Kathy Ray and Jessica Sullivan opposed and Councilor Caitlin Jordan absent.

The budget is an increase of $1.3 million, or 3.8 percent, from the current year. The tax rate will increase to $17.54 per $1,000 of valuation, compared with $16.88 this year.

The municipal budget of more than $12 million has an increase of more than $439,000, or 3.8 percent. The proposed $24.3 million school budget, which still must be approved by voters in a June 14 referendum, has an increase of almost $742,000, or 3.2 percent over the current year.

The total budget also includes the Cumberland County assessment of $1.2 million.

Sullivan and Ray said the overall budget was too high.

“I think we need to slow this train of increases,” Sullivan said.

Ray on April 26 in a joint Town Council-School Board budget workshop said she wanted to see the school and municipal budgets each be reduced by 1 percent. Sullivan on May 19 said she agreed, but the other councilors moved the budgets forward as presented.

Town Manager Mike McGovern said the upcoming budget increase, as well as the current fiscal year increase of 4 percent, is “unsustainable.”

McGovern said when he builds next year’s budget he will aim for an increase that is half as much as this year’s.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

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I'm a reporter for The Forecaster covering Freeport, Yarmouth, Chebeague Island, and Cape Elizabeth. I'm from a small town in NH no one's ever heard of. When not reporting, I can be found eating pasta and reading books, often at the same time.