CARIBOU, Maine — A rise in the cost of health insurance and other factors has driven the Aroostook County budget up approximately 2.5 percent over last year, County Administrator Doug Beaulieu said late last week.
The $4.3 million budget was approved last Tuesday during a sparsely attended public hearing.
“We drafted a bare-bones budget this year,” said Beaulieu. “We did not approve any cost-of-living increases for nonunion employees this year. Usually, we give a 2 percent increase each year.”
The county was able to budget less money for fuel oil this year.
“Last year, we budgeted $3.50 a gallon, but we were able to budget $2.75 this year,” said Beaulieu.
But Beaulieu said the county saw its health insurance premiums go up by more than 8 percent over last year.
“We had to budget for that,” he said. “But we did not have an extravagant budget at all.”
The health insurance factor was the main reason for the 2.5 percent increase, Beaulieu said.
County officials also approved a $1.2 million budget for the Unorganized Territory.
That is up more than 3 percent over last year.
“The major factor there was the increase in the amount of money we needed to allocate for contracted services, such as snow removal, ambulance services and road maintenance,” said Beaulieu. “Those costs were up over last year due to a variety of factors.”
There were few questions about the budgets, and both were approved in full by the commissioners after the brief hearing.