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What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian).

Cumberland's mill rate is based on the combined cost of the Town (municipal) budget, school budget, and county tax. 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

A Financially Healthy Cumberland

As Town Councilor, I will approach fiscal matters with integrity, diligence, resourcefulness, and will welcome ideas of Cumberland's community members. My view prioritizes Cumberland's long-term economic health and aims to reduce residential property tax burden through:

  • Commercial growth in designated zones

  • Using mixed-use as mixed-use (not only housing)

  • Business-Friendly decision-making

  • Housing variety 

  • Actively pursuing state and federal grants

  • Collaboration with nonprofits and local groups to fundraise for projects of community interest

  • Utilizing Tax Increment Financing (TIF) for eligible projects to reduce municipal debt service

  • Periodic efficiency audits and contracted services review

  • Regionalization with neighboring towns 

The Town manages a tight municipal budget, heavily influenced by fixed costs in salaries and benefits and state revenue sharing (or lack thereof). Despite having no control over the school budget, which constitutes about 70% of our property taxes, proactive collaboration and strategic planning between the school district and Town is essential to minimize overlapping costly projects and smooth out spikes in the mill rate. 

 

The Town Council has control over about 25% of the total property tax effect (not including the effect of growth on school enrollment and per pupil costs.) Freezing increases at the municipal level would not account for the other 75%ish of property taxes that are out of the Town's control. Even still, there are ways to make the Town budget even more efficient. I outline my specific ideas for savings and revenue generation in my Community Q & A Blog post.

 

As we face an impending property revaluation—the first since 2008, amidst a dramatically changed housing market—the community is rightly anxious about the cumulative effect of potential tax increases from all sources. I understand the community's concerns surrounding property taxes, especially when there are many unknowns in the equation. I will do everything in my power as your Town Councilor to make sustainable financial decisions and mitigate tax effects on our most vulnerable residents.

By growing our commercial base, using the tools listed above, and maintaining effective, synergistic partnerships across all sectors of government, we can secure Cumberland's fiscal health and continue to support vital services without undue burden on our residents.

Focus: Commercial Growth

The Town has successfully increased its commercial tax base over the years, but there is still room for improvement. The challenging part is attracting businesses to Cumberland. The most obvious attractor of future commercial growth is the proposed roundabout on Route 100. In addition to calming traffic, it would include sidewalk and lighting improvements to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. This project would help make the area more attractive to the type of commercial development the community desires but has been unable to attract: small grocery stores, restaurants, daycare facilities, commercial office space, and even breweries. Our upcoming Comprehensive Plan review and community survey will fine-tune our business priorities even more.   

The Town was designated "Certified Business-Friendly" in 2012 by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which encouraged municipalities to take a critical look at all areas of their business attraction strategy and examine ways to proactively improve it. Let's ensure we proactively remain a business-friendly Town and provide opportunities to shift our town's high tax burden away from residents.

Focus: Regionalization

Our Fire/EMS and Police Departments maintain mutual aid agreements with neighboring towns, pooling resources to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively. Taking it a step further and partnering with neighboring municipalities would likely optimize resource usage, reduce waste, benefit budgets, cut taxes, and enhance government efficiency.

Indeed, the concept of regionalization often prompts a reflexive negative reaction due to Maine’s deeply-rooted tradition of local control, dating back to the 1600s. Despite mixed opinions, the potential economic and organizational benefits of regionalization and collaborating with our neighbors warrant careful consideration, as they could improve Cumberland's long-term financial health.

Focus: Municipal & School Budgets

I know, the Town of Cumberland has no legal authority or oversight over the school budget, which accounts for about 70% of our total property taxes. Additionally, since the vast majority of both the municipal and school budget is salaries, benefits, and other fixed costs, there is a relatively narrow margin for cost-cutting without sacrificing services and quality, especially on the municipal side. When you're talking about a budget in the tens of millions, even the smallest adjustments have an impact. Anything is better than nothing, because every $153,000 removed from the budget is a 10 cent reduction in the mill rate (source: Town budget workshops).

The municipal budget is prudent and well-managed, but there are challenges, including perpetually balancing the Town's needs and budget with those of the school district to ensure an overall reasonable mill rate. In this upcoming budget cycle, the Town must also account for state revenue sharing taking a $155,000 hit and the loss of $300,000 of annual revenue from pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) bags as the Town switches to automated solid waste service. The reality of operating under such a tight budget means the Town is forced to forego or delay projects critical to health and safety, is unable to support our understaffed Fire/EMS and Police Departments, and must consider cutting programs and services and terminating employees to reduce the impact on taxpayers (source: Town budget workshops).

I strongly believe the Town Council and School Board should agree to a culture of understanding, collaboration, and even compromise to ensure Cumberland's lasting financial health as a whole, despite the two entities' legal separation of powers. The Town Council and School Board have made great strides together over the last several years, but there is always room for improvement. Silos and a lack of coordination can be disastrous for organizations, and that logic can be extended to the whole of Cumberland as well. Effective cooperation and planning, including staggering costly school and Town projects to avoid substantial overlap and weighing wants vs. needs, on both sides would help smooth drastic increases to the mill rate and, by extension, alleviate property tax increases that would financially strain our community. I bring a wealth of personal and professional experience to this area

Focus: Revaluation & Property Taxes

Are you a little nervous your property taxes might increase after the upcoming property tax revaluation? I am a bit, and I think the same goes for many in our community. We haven't had a reval since 2008, and the housing market in Cumberland and Maine overall has changed dramatically since then.

 

The reval will include property analysis of those sold between April 2022 and March 2025, and analysis of real estate market activity and general economy data between January 2023 to March 2025. Search for your current property assessment here.

 

The good news is not all taxpayers will see increases, and some tax bills may even decrease, but assessment increases due to revaluation translate into a higher taxable base on the property, and therefore higher taxes overall, even if the mill rate does not increase. I understand reval-related anxiety, because it is yet another unknown in a time of unknowns, like the school budget, the municipal budget, the new school project, and vital capital improvements.

(If you read all the way to the bottom of this page, you have an impressive attention span!)

What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian). 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

WhatIs TIF?

Fiscal Responsibility

Fiscal Responsibility

What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian). 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

a cup of coins with a green sprout growing out of it
a cup of coins with a green sprout growing out of it
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Focused Look

  • The Town has successfully increased its commercial tax base over the years, but there is still room for improvement. The challenging part is attracting businesses to Cumberland. The most obvious attractor of future commercial growth is the proposed roundabout on Route 100. In addition to calming traffic, it would include sidewalk and lighting improvements to make the area more pedestrian-friendly. This project would help make the area more attractive to the type of commercial development the community desires but has been unable to attract: small grocery stores, restaurants, daycare facilities, office space, and even breweries. Our upcoming Comprehensive Plan review and community survey will fine-tune our business priorities even more.   

    The Town was designated "Certified Business-Friendly" in 2012 by the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, which encouraged municipalities to take a critical look at all areas of their business attraction strategy and examine ways to proactively improve it. Let's ensure we proactively remain a business-friendly Town and provide opportunities to shift our town's high tax burden away from residents.

  • Our Fire/EMS and Police Departments maintain mutual aid agreements with neighboring towns, pooling resources to respond to emergencies quickly and effectively. Taking it a step further and partnering with neighboring municipalities would likely optimize resource usage, reduce waste, benefit budgets, cut taxes, and enhance government efficiency.

    Indeed, the concept of regionalization often prompts a reflexive negative reaction due to Maine’s deeply-rooted tradition of local control, dating back to the 1600s. Despite mixed opinions, the potential economic and organizational benefits of regionalization and collaborating with our neighbors warrant careful consideration, as they could improve Cumberland's long-term financial health.

  • I know, the Town of Cumberland has no legal authority or oversight over the school budget, which accounts for about 70% of our total property taxes. Additionally, since the vast majority of both the municipal and school budget is salaries, benefits, and other fixed costs, there is a relatively narrow margin for cost-cutting without sacrificing services and quality, especially on the municipal side. When you're talking about a budget in the tens of millions, even the smallest adjustments have an impact. Anything is better than nothing, because every $153,000 removed from the budget is a 10 cent reduction in the mill rate (source: Town budget workshops).

    The municipal budget is prudent and well-managed, but there are challenges, including perpetually balancing the Town's needs and budget with those of the school district to ensure an overall reasonable mill rate. In this upcoming budget cycle, the Town must also account for state revenue sharing taking a $155,000 hit and the loss of $300,000 of annual revenue from pay-as-you-throw (PAYT) bags as the Town switches to automated solid waste service. The reality of operating under such a tight budget means the Town is forced to forego or delay projects critical to health and safety, is unable to support our understaffed Fire/EMS and Police Departments, and must consider cutting programs and services and terminating employees to reduce the impact on taxpayers (source: Town budget workshops).

    I strongly believe the Town Council and School Board should agree to a culture of understanding, collaboration, and even compromise to ensure Cumberland's lasting financial health as a whole, despite the two entities' legal separation of powers. The Town Council and School Board have made great strides together over the last several years, but there is always room for improvement. Silos and a lack of coordination can be disastrous for organizations, and that logic can be extended to the whole of Cumberland as well. Effective cooperation and planning, including staggering costly school and Town projects to avoid substantial overlap and weighing wants vs. needs, on both sides would help smooth drastic increases to the mill rate and, by extension, alleviate property tax increases that would financially strain our community. I bring a wealth of personal and professional experience to this area

  • Are you a little nervous your property taxes might increase after the upcoming property tax revaluation? I am a bit, and I think the same goes for many in our community. We haven't had a reval since 2008, and the housing market in Cumberland and Maine overall has changed dramatically since then.

     

    The reval will include property analysis of those sold between April 2022 and March 2025, and analysis of real estate market activity and general economy data between January 2023 to March 2025. Search for your current property assessment here.

     

    The good news is not all taxpayers will see increases, and some tax bills may even decrease, but assessment increases due to revaluation translate into a higher taxable base on the property, and therefore higher taxes overall, even if the mill rate does not increase. 

     

    I understand reval-related anxiety, because it is yet another unknown in a time of unknowns, like the school budget, the municipal budget, the new school project, and vital capital improvements.

What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian). 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

WhatIs TIF?

What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian). 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

What Is aMill Rate?

The term "mill rate" or "millage" is derived from the Latin word millesimum, meaning thousandth. A mill rate is a figure many municipalities use to calculate property taxes. One mill is 0.1 cents or one thousandth of a dollar. Thus, a mill rate of 1 means you pay $1 in taxes for every $1,000 of your property's assessed value (Experian). 

For example, the preliminary FY 2025 MSAD51 school budget would increase Cumberland's tax burden by 3.98%, translating into an 88 cent increase to the current mill rate. This means that your annual property tax bill would increase by $88 for every $100,000 of assessed property value. A homeowner with a property assessed at $500,000 would see an additional $440 added to their 2025 property tax bill.

WhatIs TIF?

WhatIs TIF?

Tax increment financing (TIF), is a tool used by municipalities to promote economic development and infrastructure improvements in designated areas without initially tapping into the general fund. Use of TIF effectively limits the financial impact on the general fund while supporting targeted growth.

When a TIF district is established, the existing tax revenue from this area continues to go to the general budget, but any increase in property tax revenue resulting from new developments is funneled back into the district to finance further improvements. This setup can help stimulate private investment and revitalize underdeveloped regions and also allows for enhancements to be made with future tax gains rather than current public expenditures. 

WhatIs TIF?

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