PORTLAND — Cumberland County commissioners on Monday unanimously approved a budget for 2012 that includes the first bond payment for a $33 million renovation of the Cumberland County Civic Center.

The bond was approved in a countywide referendum on Nov. 8 with 58 percent of the vote.

Besides allocating $1 million for the county’s first payment on the 25-year bond, the 2012 budget includes a $300,000 payment to the civic center to make up for a revenue shortfall in the facility’s operating budget.

Commissioner Jim Cloutier said the shortfall, which is more than $375,000, developed over three years as attendance for events at the arena in Portland decreased because of the recession.

During good economic times, he said, the civic center usually makes a little money.

The $41 million budget will add about $2 to the property tax bill for a typical homeowner in Cumberland County. For a home assessed at $200,000, the portion of the tax bill that goes to the county will increase from $110 to just over $112.

The portion of the budget to be raised through taxes is $23.8 million, a 2 percent increase from 2011.

No one from the public spoke at the hearing before Monday’s vote. Earlier this month, no one spoke at a public hearing on the budget at Windham Town Hall.

The civic center project includes expanding the concourse space and increasing the number of concessions in the building. The increase in concessions will enable the civic center to boost revenues by as much as $1.2 million a year — enough to pay for the financing of the project, Cloutier said.

“It may actually pay the whole thing,” he said.

The 2012 budget also includes money to move the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds from its historic home in the county courthouse to leased space in what used to be the T.G.I. Friday’s restaurant on Pearl Street.

The rent, which doesn’t include $50,000 in required renovations, will be $130,000 per year.

The registry’s departure will leave 7,000 square feet of vacated space, which will allow the county’s finance office to move from its current home at the county jail to the courthouse.

The vacancy will also allow for expansion of the county’s human resources department and the district attorney’s juvenile division. County officials are also considering adding a fitness room.


Staff Writer Tom Bell can be contacted at 791-6369 or at: [email protected]