Cost of dispatch consolidation to increase county budget

Posted Nov. 09, 2010, at 1:02 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:28 a.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The Penobscot County commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend a budget of nearly $15.72 million for 2011. Commissioners are seeking an increase of nearly $1 million over last year’s budget of $14.8 million.

More than half of the budgeted increase would be spent to consolidate the city of Bangor’s dispatching center with the Penobscot Regional Communications Center on the third floor of the courthouse on Hammond Street. Last month, the Bangor City Council voted to consolidate with PRCC next year.

The money expended by the county on the consolidation could be recouped in 2012 or 2013 if the Legislature approves a statewide consolidation plan recommended by the Public Utilities Commission, Collins said.

In addition, the proposed budget includes an increase of about $129,000 to the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office for the purchase of new cruisers.

Health insurance for employees is expected to rise about 13 percent, according to County Administrator William Collins. In addition, contract negotiations are under way with unionized employees, and the amount wages will increase was uncertain Tuesday.

The final tax rate has not been set but is expected to be approximately $1.165 per $1,000 assessed valuation, according to Collins. The 2010 tax rate was about $1.118 per $1,000, according to a previously published report.

Most of the county’s revenue comes from taxes paid by municipalities based on their assessed valuation determined by the state. Other income comes from fees charged by the registries of deeds and probate and the rental of space in the former Bangor District Courthouse to the U.S. Postal Service, the Red Cross and the state Department of Probation.

The Penobscot County budget committee, made up of representatives from municipalities throughout the county, will meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Nov. 15, at the historic Penobscot County Courthouse to consider final approval of the proposal.

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