April 19, 2018
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Piscataquis budget shows $260,000 spending increase

By Diana Bowley, BDN Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A Piscataquis County budget draft that reflects a nearly 6.6 percent increase in spending got its first review Wednesday by the county’s budget advisory committee.

The draft includes the initial requests from department heads so the budget committee can see the original raw data.

County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte told the committee Wednesday that she planned to meet with department heads this week to identify some possible cuts to reduce the nearly $260,000 increase. A revised budget with those cuts will be presented to the budget committee at its next meeting, at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 26.

This year’s budget is a challenging one because the county’s revenues have declined and there is no surplus to help offset county taxes, according to Tourtelotte. In past years, the county used revenue from the boarding of federal prisoners to offset the budget, but those funds now go to the jail budget and the Maine Board of Corrections, she noted.

Anticipating the proposed renovation of the county-owned Superior Courthouse, the commissioners have budgeted $20,000 to pay an architect to assist the county with overseeing the courthouse renovation, and $30,000 for any renovations not funded by the state.

In highlighting other increases in the draft budget, Tourtelotte said, “Some of the department heads have put pay increases in while others didn’t.”

The sheriff has requested a 2 percent cost-of-living increase and a 2 percent raise for himself; a 2 percent cost-of-living increase for his full-time officers, and a 2.75 percent increase for regular part-time officers, according to Tourtelotte.

In telecommunications, a 2 percent raise and 2 percent COLA is being requested for salaried personnel, who have not had a pay increase for two years, and a 2 percent cost-of-living increase plus longevity step increases for full-time employees.

Tourtelotte said the county is in mediation with the union representing the sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers and telecommunications personnel. The county also is in negotiations with the sheriff’s administrative officers’ bargaining unit, she said.

In addition to the pay increases, the Sheriff’s Department has asked the county to fill the vacant patrol officer’s position, add another full-time patrol position, and purchase two new cruisers and six Tasers.

The draft budget also includes:

• Elimination of a clerical position in the county commissioners’ office.

• Addition of $6,000 for the design of a county Web page.

• Reduction of the county treasurer’s salary of $13,630 because of fewer duties.

• Addition of $8,000 for purchase of a new prisoner transport van.

• Addition of $14,000 to upgrade mobile radios and repeater equipment to comply with new federal regulations.

• Addition of $8,318 to fill the vacant position in the District Attorney’s Office.

• Addition of $5,000 for the future conversion of the District Court basement into a county emergency center.

• Increase in the Moosehead Lake Region Chamber of Commerce’s donation by $500 for a $2,500 total.

• Increase in the Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District’s donation by $1,500 for a $10,000 total.

• Reduction of $17,500 for the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.

• Increase of $3,500 for Eastern Maine Development District, making the total $10,000.

• An addition of $7,500 for interest since the county expects to borrow more next year in anticipation of taxes.

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