BELFAST, Maine — Waldo County Commissioner William Shorey has some news he thinks the county’s property taxpayers will like — the proposed 2014 budget reflects a 3.3 percent reduction from the last budget.
“I feel very good about the budget,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “It’s a good budget. It takes the taxpayers into consideration, and it keeps the county whole.”
Residents will have a chance to put in their two cents about the proposed budget during a public hearing at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, at Waldo County District Court.
As proposed, the county budget would be $5.16 million. Residents also pay a $2.83 million fixed contribution to the state corrections system. Altogether, the two parts of the budget add up to just under $8 million — which is still 2.2 percent less than the $8.2 million total 2013 budget.
The county budget pays for the courthouses, the Waldo County Sheriff’s Office, the emergency management agency and the registry of probate, among other departments.
Shorey said that the decrease in costs reflects careful fiscal management on the part of department heads. No department will lose personnel, he said. One reason for the lean budget is that the county has saved about $80,000 on health care premiums for its workers.
Commissioner Betty Johnson said in a press release that some of the health plan cost savings happened because of the Waldo County Wellness Program. More than a third of county employees have enrolled at local fitness centers with financial help from the county’s health plan.
Shorey said that another reason for the savings is the fact that the county upgraded its technological equipment instead of leasing. By purchasing the equipment, the county is avoiding a $47,000 annual interest payment, he said.
“That’s how things creep in if you don’t watch it,” Shorey said. “We’re pretty good about watching it.”
Another decision that has helped to streamline money management, Shorey said, was the recent institution of the same pay scale across all county agencies.
“We’ve done some good things to control our expenses,” he said. “I don’t say this to brag, but I would doubt you could find another county in the state of Maine that is under budget.”