DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County commissioners on Tuesday approved two budgets, one of which exceeded the state tax cap for counties.
A county budget of $4,041,800, which includes contingency and overlay accounts, was approved. The budget falls under the tax cap. To fund the budget, the towns in the county will be assessed a total of $3,019,062. The remainder is funded by federal, state and local revenues of various kinds.
When commissioners started the budget process they were looking at a 24 percent increase in appropriations but ended the process with a 4.68 percent increase, Commissioner Tom Lizotte noted Tuesday.
Also approved was a budget of $1,753,776 for the Unorganized Territory. Since that budget was over the state tax cap, the commissioners voted to increase the tax cap, which is allowable under state law. To stay within the tax cap, the current budget could have increased by only 2.97 percent. The budget calls for a tax assessment of $1,461,341, an increase of 27 percent over last year.
Lizotte said the hike in the Unorganized Territory budget was driven by increases in contracts for summer and winter road maintenance and solid waste. He lamented that there are too few contractors willing to bid on these projects.
“That’s a stunning increase, all driven by these contracts,” Lizotte said.
The commissioners also signed a $64,000 sales and purchase agreement on 2 acres on Depot Street in Greenville. The land is being eyed for a trailhead access for all-terrain vehicles. A total of $1,000 from the county budget was placed as a retainer on the property.
The county received a $23,885 grant from the Department of Conservation toward the purchase of the land. Commissioners hope to raise the remainder through a Rural Business Enterprise grant. If the grant falls through, the purchase will not be made and the $1,000 retainer will be returned to the county coffers.