ELLSWORTH, Maine — Hancock County officials are close to making final a 2009 budget that is expected to require the county to raise $5 million in taxes, about the same as was raised for this year’s budget.
The overall proposed budget is approximately $6.9 million, of which more than $5 million would have to be raised through property taxes. County commissioners also are proposing to transfer roughly $380,000 in county reserve funds to help offset increased costs.
Outgoing commission chairman Ken Shea, who decided not to seek re-election last month, said the proposed budget could change before it is adopted.
“This is not the finalized budget,” Shea said Nov. 26 at a brief public hearing about the proposed budget. “It looks like it is going to go to the towns with very little increase in taxation, if any.”
If the budget is adopted as commissioners are proposing, county taxes overall could increase as little as 0.17 percent, according to a budget summary.
Funding for several individual departmental budgets is likely to change. Commissioners said personnel costs in the District Attorney’s Office are going up roughly $40,000, in part because the county is picking up the cost of the office’s detective position, which has been paid for in the past by a federal grant. Overtime in the re-gional communications center budget is expected to increase by $17,000, while revenue in the registry of deeds is expected to decrease because of the downturn in property sales. Personnel costs are increasing somewhat in all departments, but health insurance rates for all departments are holding steady, they said.
Commissioners are expected to vote on a final 2009 budget on Dec. 15.
In other news, Linda Dunno, director of the county’s regional communications center, is resigning to head back to her native Ohio, according to county commissioners. Dunno, who became Hancock County’s first RCC director in 2002, had been thinking about heading back to her home state, but the abrupt sale of her house has prompted her to announce her departure earlier than expected.
Bob McKenney, Ellsworth’s former fire chief, has offered to fill Dunno’s post on an interim basis until a new permanent replacement is hired, commissioners said. Besides being the former fire chief in the county’s largest municipality, McKenney has been working part time with the county’s emergency management agency and so is familiar with the county’s emergency communications operations.
“She’s decided really quickly ‘this is the time’ [to go],” Commissioner Fay Lawson said of Dunno. “She’s done a fantastic job. She’s built it up from nothing.”