CUMBERLAND — Cumberland’s mayor and City Council gave the nod on Tuesday for the drafting of an ordinance that will increase sewer bills 20 percent for residents beginning in fiscal year 2014.
During a work session on the city’s proposed $36 million budget, City Administrator Jeff Rhodes presented the plan to negate a projected $1.1 million deficit in the sewer fund with the rate increase, which would add about $7 to a resident’s monthly bill. According to budget figures disclosed, the average sewer bill, which is about $35 currently, will rise to about $42.
“These enterprise funds have to fund themselves. While it’s difficult to swallow, the reality is unless people want their tax dollars to go into the sewer fund and not pave streets or pay firefighters, the rate has to keep up with the expense,” said Mayor Brian Grim.
The council agreed to the plan and gave the nod for it to be drafted into an ordinance before it’s presented for approval when the final draft of the 2014 fiscal year budget is voted on in June.
The council also is hammering out the details to finance the demolition of the old Memorial Hospital, a project expected to begin in September.
The terms for the $3.5 million dollar project is a financing package of 3.7 percent interest over 20 years that will cost the city around $250,000 annually for debt service. The funds will be raised primarily through a bond sale.
Top income sources projected for the city in 2014 will be real estate tax revenue of $8.3 million; water supply income of $8.4 million; sewer charges earning $8.9 million; personal property tax of $1.9 million; hotel/motel tax income of $230,000 and state supplied Highway User Revenue of $427,000 and police protection funding of $100,000.
The Cumberland Fire Department is developing a plan that could add about $40,000 annually to the city’s coffers. The plan would charge fees, primarily to be paid by insurance carriers, for fire suppression calls, motor vehicle collision responses, hazardous waste cleanup and false alarm incidents.
The draft budget also has a $115,000 expenditure earmarked for economic development. However, council members Nick Scarpelli and Nicole Wagoner questioned that expense.
The funds were to be used for the hiring of a person to entice potential convention planners to bring their events to Cumberland, as well as other economic development activities.
Scarpelli and Wagoner said they needed more details on the idea from the city’s economic development department before considering such an expenditure. Wagoner was concerned about having the space, parking and lodging needs for conventions.
Greg Larry can be contacted at email@example.com.