Knox County budget includes job cuts, no raises

Posted Dec. 16, 2010, at 9:43 p.m.

ROCKLAND, Maine — Two boards voted overwhelmingly to approve a more than $9 million expense budget for Knox County that will include layoffs, outsourcing of departments and no raises for employees in 2011.

The county’s expenses will increase about $85,000 from 2010, according to a final vote taken by the Knox County commissioners and the Knox County budget committee Thursday night. When revenues are factored in, the net budget settles at $7,415,326 — up 0.16 percent from last year.

Elimination of the building maintenance department is one major change in next year’s budget. Instead of employing a building supervisor, a property manager and janitors with the 2010 wages and benefits of $153,000, the county instead will lay off the workers and outsource the department. Contracts for outsourcing cleaning and maintenance of county buildings will total about $128,000. The job cuts, in addition to the completion of brickwork, painting and lighting projects, will result in a 25 percent reduction in the maintenance budget, saving about $110,000.

Other major changes to the budget include adding $33,000 to the airport’s budget to fund operating expenses of the new terminal at Knox County Regional Airport.

The two boards also agreed to keep employees’ salaries in line with last year.

One person who voted against the budget was commissioner Anne Beebe-Center, who said although ultimately she agreed that county employees should forgo raises this year because of the poor economy, the commissioners and the budget committee should have left more wiggle room because the county is still in negotiations with labor unions.

Richard L. Parent supported the budget but would have liked to give the county employees raises.

“I would have liked to see us do something for the employees,” Parent said. But, he said, “we have no additional money. But that’s a sign of the times.”

In her outline of the budget to both boards, budget committee chairwoman Ann Matlack said the flat salary budget lines had nothing to do with performance of employees.

“We are hopeful that the unions will understand that everyone else in the county has been tightening their budgets — this isn’t a reflection on any of the employees of the county,” she said Thursday night. “We don’t believe this is a reflection of what they do, but the county economy as a whole.”

Matlack said that in addition to the job cuts in the maintenance department, the deeds department also will cut back hours and the county administration office will cut one job. The administration office will hire a human resources employee and the IT department will be piling on more hours — at least temporarily — in preparation for future outsourcing.

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