CAPE ELIZABETH — Despite two collective bargaining agreements to negotiate, Cape Elizabeth Town Manager Matt Sturgis said compared to last year, he anticipates a relatively smooth budget process.

Sturgis said he has his eye on collective bargaining agreements with both the police department and public works; both contracts expire June 30. Ed Marzano, business agent for Teamsters Local #340, which represents public works employees, said negotiations are expected to begin in February. He said the town did ask the workers to give up their 2% cost-of-living increase in May 2020, but the workers voted against it, noting they were considered “essential” employees even during a statewide lockdown.

“They were essential personnel,” he said. “They didn’t get to go home.”

The workers did get the increase, Marzano said, and steady revenues will allow similar increases this year.

“I really don’t have any concerns at all,” he said.

Last year, voters and the Town Council set the combined 2021 budget at just over $33 million. Economic difficulties brought on by the coronavirus pandemic put pressure on the town last year to keep the increases as small as possible to help jobless residents and those on fixed incomes who were struggling to make ends meet. Sturgis acknowledged that those difficulties will persist in 2021, but he said he thinks revenues are on the town’s side. Even during the financial difficulties of 2020, he said, the town still collected fees from sources such as building permits and excise taxes from residents buying new cars.

“We think that will continue,” he said.

Sturgis said he also hopes tourism will pick up later this year, which will bring in more revenues such as parking fees at Fort Williams Park.

School Superintendent Donna Wolfrom said she first presented budget requests to the school board on Tuesday. While it’s still early on in the process, Wolfrom said she is trying to keep the budget tight this year.

“I had requested that administrators try to make as few increases as possible, thinking that we would be getting a reduction in state subsidy,” she said. “They worked to follow this guidance and there are very few increases or new proposals, compared to the usual requests.”

According to an update posted to the district’s website, Wolfrom noted the proposed budget includes salary increases resulting from collective bargaining agreements, a 10% increase in health insurance and $300,000 to pay for designs for the school building project recommended to the school board on Dec. 15, 2020. The project calls for replacing the elementary and middle school buildings and renovations at the high school.

Sturgis said he will officially deliver the town’s proposed 2022 budget to the Town Council on March 5. There will be review again on March 18 and the council will be accepting public comment on April 12.

Sturgis said the school’s deadline for submitting its budget is April 16. The district will be holding a full budget workshop on Feb. 23, Wolfrom said.

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