Unexpected tax revenue buoys Cape Elizabeth budget

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CAPE ELIZABETH —  The town is in excellent financial condition halfway through its fiscal year, Town Manager Mike McGovern told the Town Council in a Jan. 3 workshop.

McGovern said the tax rate is based each year on an assumption of the previous year’s property valuation. This year, with the added value of Cape Memory Care and a few large homes, Cape has generated about $250,000 more than anticipated in tax income.

He said the town anticipated $239,000, but property tax revenues will be about $400,000 this year.

The added revenue is not specified for a specific use, but will give the town the ability to reduce property taxes in next year’s budget or reduce spending cuts, McGovern said.

In addition, the town has received more than half the annual property tax revenue it usually collects at this point, a fact McGovern said is astounding. He said it could be the result of a few property owners who have paid their taxes for the year at one time.

He said non-property tax revenues have dropped 3 percent, or nearly $57,000, since last year, and state revenue sharing and excise tax revenue have declined.

“Revenues continue to decline, but we have prepared for it,” McGovern said. “What we didn’t plan for was an overlay as big as it is.” 

In other business, the Town Council met with the School Board and local and state representatives to discuss the upcoming legislative session, federal stimulus money and potential health insurance legislation for 2011.

Sen. Larry Bliss, D-South Portland; Rep. Cynthia Dill, D-Cape Elizabeth, and Rep. Jane Eberle, D-South Portland said they will keep municipal and school officials informed as they find out more about the budget.

It was decided that the local representatives will meet with councilors and School Board members each month to discuss issues important to Cape Elizabeth.

The representatives said they will submit a bill to help lower the cost of teacher health insurance by allowing a competitive bid process. The bill will be modeled after a resolution approved by the Maine School Board Association that would enable school districts to purchase health insurance through a competitive bid process and join the Maine state employee group health insurance plan.

The next Town Council meeting is Monday, Jan. 10, at Town Hall.

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or aanderson@theforecaster.net

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