Commissioners to vote on Piscataquis County budget

By Mike Lange, Piscataquis Observer
Posted Dec. 16, 2013, at 3:18 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Piscataquis County commissioners are scheduled to vote Tuesday on the 2014 budget, which is expected to be close to this year’s spending level.

The current budget is $4,000,135, the new budget recommended by County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte is $3,995,546, and the county budget advisory committee has endorsed $3,990,527.

However, there are still some accounts subject to change. As of last week, negotiations between the unionized Sheriff’s Department workers and the county were in mediation.

So while the bottom line of the proposed budget is lower than this year, this could change depending on a new wage package.

One major difference between the county manager’s proposed budget and the one recommended by the advisory committee is in funding the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council.

Tourtelotte recommended $105,500, up $5,500 from last year’s account. However, the advisory committee wants to cut the allocation to $80,000.

While supporters cited the number of success stories and the high number of grants secured by the agency, some advisory committee members said that they felt that municipalities should be shouldering more of the financial burden.

There also was concern expressed about the possible loss of grant money to pay the $27,000 needed for part-time domestic violence and sexual abuse investigators’ salaries in the district attorney’s office.

In other news, county commissioners had a rather light agenda at their Dec. 3 meeting.

Liquor licenses were approved for the Abol Bridge Store in Township 2 Range 10, Libby Camps in Township 8 Range 9, and an off-premises and restaurant permit for Kokadjo Trading Post in Frenchtown Township.

The county will have a new auditor starting next year: RHR Smith and Co. of Buxton. The southern Maine firm submitted the lowest bid of three firms for the county, Unorganized Territory and jail budget for 2014-16.

Bratner, Thibodeau and Associates of Bangor bid $36,000, Hollingsworth Associates of Bangor submitted a $30,000 bid, and RHR Smith prevailed with $27,300.

Commissioner Eric Ward noted that RHR Smith “had an extensive list of clients they deal with … pretty impressive.” But Fred Trask, chairman of the commission, said he preferred that the designated firm set a specific time for completion of the audit.

Tourtelotte said that few if any accounting firms would commit to a specific completion date “because it depends on when the clients have the information ready.” She also pointed out that the county office “had more personnel to handle everyday activities in past years. So that’s why we’re hiring a part-time worker to alleviate the problem. We never had mandatory separate jail audits before, either.”

The new county website is also up and running, Tourtelotte said. The URL is the same — http://piscataquis.us/ — but the site is now hosted by the Ellsworth American and eventually will have more features.

Tuesday’s meeting is at 10:30 a.m. at the commissioners office at 163 East Main St. in Dover-Foxcroft.

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/12/16/news/piscataquis/commissioners-to-vote-on-piscataquis-county-budget/ printed on September 17, 2014