Hearings set on Cumberland budget, higher trash bag fees

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CUMBERLAND — The Town Council set public hearing dates on Monday for the fiscal 2011 budget and a proposed increase in trash bag fees.

The budget hearing is set for Monday, March 22. Town Manager Bill Shane has proposed a $7.99 million budget for next year, a 0.3 percent drop from $8.01 million in fiscal 2010.

He said the budget reflects a 1.24 percent drop in revenues, from $3.66 million to $3.62 million. As of March 5 the projected impact on the current property tax rate of $14.55 per $1,000 of property valuation was a 0.12 percent increase, not including the school budget.

But Shane said the rise would probably be trimmed to a reduction on the municipal side, due to the likelihood that health insurance costs and the first annual bond payment for the Route 88 improvement project will be less than he has projected.

The proposed budget includes no layoffs. Salaries for police and unionized public service employees would be unchanged, while non-union employees could see a 2 percent salary increase.

The budget also proposes increased trash bag fees. A public hearing on the proposal will be held April 12.

Shane recommends the cost of 20-gallon bags be increased from $1 to $1.50, and that 33-gallon bags prices rise from $1.50 to $2.25, effective June 1. The changes are intended to bring Cumberland’s fees closer in line with those in surrounding towns.

Shane said some councilors favored increasing the 33-gallon bag cost to $2.50, matching North Yarmouth and Windham.

Cumberland’s trash bag fees have remained the same since its pay-per-bag program began in September 2005. Residents are not charged per-bag fees to dispose of recyclables.

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

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.