DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County commissioners cut the proposed 2012 county budget of $3.96 million by an additional $70,000 Tuesday, but the cut is not enough to insulate some towns from an increase.
The budget advisory committee, comprised mostly of town officials, directed the commissioners earlier this month to further reduce the proposed budget so no town in the county would incur an increase, County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte said Tuesday.
Although about $70,000 was cut Tuesday, much of the reduction was absorbed by an unanticipated 44 percent hike in health insurance premiums. About $160,000 in surplus will be used to help reduce the tax commitment.
Commission Chairman Tom Lizotte said Tuesday that significant cuts have been made and any further cuts would mean positions. “It’s a significant decrease in the tax commitment but that doesn’t mean every town in our county will see its county tax go down, so are we driven by that?”
For example, Abbot added about $4 million in new state valuation, so that community would see an increase, he said. Lizotte said his goal is to have no increase in the tax commitment.
Most of the cuts made Tuesday were in the sheriff’s budget since the sheriff was the only administrator who did not cut his budget when asked by the commissioners earlier this fall, according to Tourtelotte.
Among the changes in the sheriff’s budget, the commissioners cut $2,000 of the requested $4,800 for two Tasers. Tourtelotte said the average cost for a stun gun and associated equipment is $850.
Eliminated from the budget was a proposed 3 percent pay increase for the sheriff and his chief deputy, who are elected and appointed respectively. Lizotte said a survey of other counties indicated that their salaries are where they should be given the county’s population.
The commissioners also rejected a proposal to increase the hourly wage of regular part-time help from $10.60 to $11 per hour.
The budget includes the purchase of two new cruisers of which $38,000 will be funded through the budget and the remainder from a capital account.
The proposed budget will now be presented for its final review by the budget advisory committee at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 16, in the Dover-Foxcroft District Courthouse. The public hearing on the proposed spending plan will be held Wednesday, Nov. 30, at the Dover-Foxcroft municipal building.