Capital tasks, new academics pushing Cape E.’s funds ahead

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Capital projects, new teachers pushing Cape E.'s budget forward

Cape Elizabeth officials said this week that restoring some of the cost of capital deferred last year and adding three new full-time apprenticeships will add to a proposed combined budget of $ 48.4 million for 2022 and increase the tax rate by 3.4% .

School board member and chairman of the finance committee, Phil Saucier, said the school board on Tuesday approved the district’s proposed $ 29.8 million budget for 2022, which will be formally presented to the city council on April 26.

City administrator Matt Sturgis said the municipal gross budget is $ 16.8 million. According to Sturgis, both budgets add up to $ 36.8 million to collect taxes, taking into account revenue, the county budget, and citywide valuation changes.

That means an increase in the mil rate from 19.92 to 20.60, or 3.4%, said Sturgis. For the owner of a $ 300,000 home, that means a $ 204 increase in taxation, he said.

Sturgis said the city council made profound budget cuts last year in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic to ease the burden on taxpayers.

“We were all capital projects,” he said. “That fell to the ground.”

This year, Sturgis said, some of that spending is in the municipal budget, but officials have done their best to mitigate the impact. For example, one project involved replacing lightbulbs in street lights across the city with new, energy-efficient LEDs. The city will do so this year, he said, but only after signing an agreement with Central Maine Power in which the utility will replace the lightbulbs and save the city about $ 200,000.

Sturgis also noted a replacement for a Willow Brook flue that needs to be installed but would have cost $ 400,000 if the city had added it to its budget last year. Since then, he said, officials have received a grant that will pay $ 343,000 of those expenses.

Other capital costs for the proposed 2022 budget include a new backhoe loader for $ 160,000 and upgrades to launch the Kettle Cove boat for $ 100,000.

Municipal revenue was over $ 8.8 million, according to Sturgis, aided by a 15% year-over-year increase in excise tax revenue. Other sources of income such as building permits have also increased.

“They were strong,” he said.

Regarding the school portion of the proposed budget, Saucier said the budget includes accommodation for the pandemic. Saucier said the budget will add three new full-time teachers, one each from Pond Cove Elementary School, middle school and high school. Saucier, referred to as a “math interventionist,” said the positions were designed to address academic performance concerns raised by classroom restrictions caused by the pandemic.

Saucier said the proposed school budget also assumes the district will return to face-to-face teaching five days a week from the fall.

“This budget has that kind of budget,” he said.

After the April 26 joint council / school board meeting, there will be another budget meeting on April 27, followed by a public hearing on the combined budget on May 3. The council is expected to give its final approval for the community budget and send the school budget to a referendum on May 10th. Voters will have their say on the school budget on June 8th.

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