Friday, May 29, 2020

Windham to keep taxes flat for the next fiscal year

Windham’s municipal budget for the
 2020-2021 fiscal year will have a
 zero increase as a result of
the pandemic.
By Lorraine Glowczak

The most recent word in today’s repertoire is ‘flatten’ – as in ‘flatten the curve’ relating to the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The Town of Windham is using the term as it relates to the town budget.

“The town’s municipal budget for the 2020-2021 fiscal year will have a zero increase as a result of the pandemic,” said Barry Tibbetts, Windham Town Manager. “Basically, the town’s fiscal budget will remain flat and the majority of planned building remodels and additions, paving and improvements to dirt roads along with other needed items have been placed on hold. There will be no tax increases from the town’s municipal budget.”

The town has postponed the hiring of additional needed staff as well as building renovations and expansions necessary at the Town Hall. A few much-needed items will be purchased and be obtained, and the public safety building located on Windham Center Road will undergo some expansion, but residents will not see an increase in taxes this year or the future for that project.

“We will be purchasing one pickup and a smaller dump truck, a new ambulance and must make necessary additions/remodeling to the public safety building in order to comply with the safety regulations as a result of COVID-19,” Tibbets said. “When the public safety building was built in 1989, there were only 22 employees. Now, we have more than doubled the number of staff with 48 employees and the officer and emergency medical providers are extremely cramped and unsafe. These modifications to the building with the new addition will be absorbed within the budget by using  a bond. There will not be an increase in the mill rate or the town’s taxes, as a result.” will still see an  increase in taxes, however, due to standard and projected RSU14 budgetary items and the slight rise of Cumberland County budget in the mil rate. The projected mil rate increase for the RSU budget, should it be approved, will be 47 cents while the County impact will be 4 cents. Another quick way to calculate that for individual impact would be a $51 increase per $100,000 in valuation.

Cumberland County was scheduled to convert from a calendar year to a fiscal year but has decided to hold that change so as not to adversely affect the towns financially. The shift from a calendar year to a fiscal year would equate to about 17 cents on our mil rate. This is a tremendous help for our Town.

As for the RSU14 budget, the increases taxpayers will see are the necessary union negotiation changes per the recently agreed contracts along with continued special education prerequisites.
“The school board is obligated to pay staff the required contractual employee pay increase in addition to adhering to State of Maine special education standards,” Tibbetts said. “The school board must adhere to these predetermined requirements.”

RSU14 School Superintendent Christopher Howell echoed Tibbetts statements.
As for RSU14, taxpayers will see an increase due to negotiated contracts, special education programming and positions to support increased enrollments at the elementary level,” Howell said. “The board is committing $900,000 from carryover funds to help offset the impact to tax increases. The RSU is legally obligated to meet the special education needs of students.”

For more information regarding the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget, please contact the Town Manager’s office at 207-892-1907.

Be sure to keep informed by watching recorded Town Council meetings at

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