DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — The Piscataquis County commissioners on Tuesday adopted budgets for the county and the Unorganized Territory that were lower than last year’s budgets.
Despite increases in “fixed” costs and less revenue, the commissioners approved a 2010 county budget of $3,962,965, which reflects a reduction of nearly $79,000 from last year’s total. Commissioners achieved that savings by reducing their office expenses, reducing the county’s contribution to the University of Maine’s Cooperative Extension, and scaling back the contingency account. While the spending plan is down, the tax assessment will increase by about $500, which the towns will share.
“We cut the budget and revenues down; we kept the tax rate down as much as possible,” Commissioner Fred Trask said Tuesday.
The commissioners reduced the Cooperative Extension’s funding request of $33,700 to $12,500. The county has funded the full amount for the secretarial support staff in the past. Since it also provides about $80,000 in additional services to the agency, including rent, the commissioners said it was an area that could be reduced.
Although a Cooperative Extension official sternly warned the commissioners last month that the local office would close if full funding were not provided, it won’t be the case, according to Commissioner Tom Lizotte. “Although they are not happy to take a cut, the office will not be closed,” he said.
The Extension will absorb the reduction by sharing the secretarial position with offices in other counties, according to Lizotte.
The commissioners, including Eric Ward, who is out of the country but participated by speakerphone, thanked County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte, staff, department heads, and the Budget Advisory Committee for their work on the budget.
The 2010 Unorganized Territory budget of $1,477,963 adopted Tuesday reflects a decrease of $203,822. The new budget, which requires a tax commitment of $1,033,573, starts on July 1.
Tourtelotte also was credited with the reduction in costs in the Unorganized Territory budget. “Marilyn has really cracked down on roads and solid waste; that’s a lot of savings right there,” Lizotte said.
Tourtelotte had an engineering study done on the county’s roads and hired Tracy Lord as road agent for better scrutiny of UT road work. She also hired a contractor to oversee the Orneville transfer station, rather than relying on the county to oversee the station, according to Lizotte.
Also Tuesday, the commissioners agreed to accept a 1990 GMC pickup truck seized during an arrest and to resell it to the former owner for $700 as recommended by the District Attorney’s Office. The commissioners will recommend to Sheriff John Goggin that the proceeds be dedicated toward the purchase of a snowmobile. Goggin advised the commissioners earlier this month that he hoped to secure a grant for the purchase of a snowmobile for patrols in remote areas not accessible during the winter months by four-wheel vehicles.