One incumbent and three newcomers are running for two seats on the Cumberland Town Council in the June 11 election.

Councilor Peter Bingham is not seeking re-election and is instead running for the School Administrative District 51 board of directors.

Councilor Michael Edes is seeking a third term against Robert Vail, Geoff Michalak and Brian Cashin.

Cashin, a 10-year resident of the town, said he values the “strong educational system” SAD 51 provides, but wants to see greater collaboration between the school district and town, particularly on capital programs, so they better coordinate spending. For example, a new fire truck should not be funded at the same time the town must repay debt for a performing arts center, he said.

“By coordinating their capital requirements, and building a closer partnership as opposed to a competing atmosphere, I think we can have a much more cooperative spirit, and reduce the impact of the budget on the taxpayers,” Cashin said.

Cashin is part of a Cumberland Fire Department task force that aims to develop a community wellness program, which “could be extremely valuable, especially as our population continues to age,” he said.

Through his involvement with the town’s Aging in Place program, “I see the needs and issues that our elderly citizens face, especially on the tax side,” Cashin noted. “Enabling them to remain in their homes is a big objective.”

Affordable housing for young families is another concern. “We do have to keep a certain level of student population in order to make that (school system) effective, and continue to receive both the federal and state funding,” he said.

Edes, a lifelong Cumberland resident and the current Town Council chairman, said he has brought administrative and organization skills to the council over the past six years.

Both the council and school board have worked well in the past year to keep spending under control, he said, noting that taxpayers should see only a slight bump in their tax bills next year, if any.

While last year saw contention between the two panels, with the council adopting a resolution urging cuts to the school budget, this year “the lines of communication between both boards have really been opened up,” Edes said. “Everything’s a lot better than it was a year ago.”

An issue that continues to stir debate – relocation of the town’s sand and salt sheds, and compost and brush areas off the town’s crowded public works site – is one Edes wants settled. But he expressed confidence “we’re going to be able to do this within the next few months.”

Cumberland also must continue to broaden its commercial tax base, he said, to ease the burden on property taxpayers.

Michalak has spent 33 years in Cumberland, has worked for the town’s fire and public works departments, and has a background in business and financial analysis.

In business, he said, he’s “a firm believer that if you don’t innovate, you die. If we can’t innovate some of our processes, and some of the ways we do things … the characteristics of the town are definitely going to end up changing.”

The town needs to look at what it has for potential future tax revenue, as well as future capital expenses – to have a solid outlook at what upcoming expenditures it faces and how those will be funded, Michalak said.

“I think citizens don’t have a full picture of everything that’s coming up, whether it be infrastructure or schools,” he said.

While he doesn’t expect property taxes to be reduced, Michalak hopes the town can keep annual tax increases to a minimum. He noted that there are many “people in their late teens, early 20s that want to remain in Cumberland, but financially it’s just not feasible.”

Vail, who has spent more than 50 years in Cumberland, said he’s someone who would bring fresh insight into how the council conducts its business, and ask questions and make changes.

He said Cumberland and North Yarmouth need to review the School Administrative District 51 charter.

“It’s been 50-plus years … it’s time to look at the school, and the relationship between the two communities, and say, ‘Is this working well, and beneficial to both communities?’” he said. “And if it’s not, what changes should we make?”

Vail advocates regional planning, noting that a vacant, town-owned property near the railroad tracks on Tuttle Road – which the town considered at one point for housing – could serve as a terminal for a park-and-ride lot or a train station.

He also supports the creation of alternative energy resources in town, stating that “before I’d put another (housing) development in town, I’d put solar panels up. Let’s do something that benefits us.”

Alex Lear — 207-780-9085

[email protected]

Twitter: @learics

Read this story in The Forecaster.