By JOSEPH FITZGERALD
CUMBERLAND — As promised, Mayor Daniel J. McKee's proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 will see a modest property tax increase of between 1 and 2 percent and well under the state's 4-percent tax cap.
McKee is proposing an $82,882,869 town operating budget for fiscal 2013, which is $3,736,081 (or 4.72 percent) higher than the current $79,146,788 budget, according to information released by the mayor's office this week.
Included in the overall budget is a $54,362,530 school operating budget for fiscal 2013, a $2.8 million, or 5 percent increase, over the current $52,574,966 spending plan. McKee is recommending the full amount as requested by the School Committee.
The school budget includes four key initiatives designed to what School Superintendent Phillip Thornton says will "systemically transform Cumberland into a progressive and educationally responsive district that is deliberately focused on the work of raising students acheivement."
Those initiatives include math, specifically the implementation of a new math curriculum vehicle and a mandatory after school math program; technology and science; and all-day kindergarten.
A full-day kindergarten program is also in place in the 2013 budget.
According to the proposal, each of the five elementary schools is scheduled for a kindergarten through Grade 5 span. Additionally, boundary lines have been relocated to accommodate the program, which will cost the district $502,666.
School officials have said that state aid will increase by the number of kindergarten students 12 months after the start of the program. Starting in fiscal 2014, Cumberland will receive increments of $100,000 each year full-day kindergarten is in operation. By fiscal year 2018, Cumberland will see the full value of the full-day kindergarten students with a $500,000 increase in state aid for each student in the program.
McKee's recommended budget, which was submitted to the Town Council this past week, shows a municipal operating budget increase of just under $1 million, which includes, among other things, $250,000 to the local police pension fund and a $163,000 increase in the state pension payment.
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sound off on the budget at two public hearings scheduled this month.
The town will hold the first public hearing on McKee's proposed budget on Wednesday, May 23 at 7 p.m. in the council's chambers at Town Hall, 45 Broad St.
The second pubic haring will be held on Wednesday, May 30 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall and the first vote will take place that night.
The final vote on the budget, which has been described as traditionally being a "three-minute" meeting, will take place on June 24 at Town Hall.
In April, McKee said policies to fix the state's fiscal problems have "broken the backs" of cities and towns and has pushed some communities to the brink of insolvency.
McKee said continued municipal budget deficits and runaway pension costs as well as state policies that phased out the motor vehicle excise tax took away general revenue and federal money allocated to schools. He added that expanded binding arbitration may not only force some communities to seek bankruptcy protection, but risk further declines in real estate values.