Short Piscataquis County budget meeting features no proposed changes

Posted Nov. 30, 2011, at 9:35 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Wednesday evening’s Piscataquis County commissioners meeting to discuss the proposed 2012 fiscal budget for the county and unorganized territories was brief and featured little discussion.

“There have been no changes made since the last budget advisory committee meeting on November 16,” said Commissioner Tom Lizotte during the meeting at the Dover-Foxcroft Town Office. “And we don’t anticipate any changes prior to adopting the budget on December 11, unless evidence comes forward that changes need to be made.”

County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte said the goal of the budget advisory committee was to have no tax increase for all towns and plantations.

Tourtelotte said that the commissioners, town managers and department heads devised a budget that saw only four towns that would have a tax increase. The budget committee reinstated some of the proposed cuts, resulting in 10 towns receiving an increase in taxes.

“If we went any further [with cuts], it would be positions that would have to be cut from the county,” said Tourtelotte.

The budget report handed out at the meeting did not break down tax commitments by town, only by positions.

“The big winners of the cost commitment decrease category would be the unorganized territories. They’re decreasing by $21,000,” said Lizotte.

Lizotte said Beaver Cove’s tax commitment is decreasing by $10,000, followed by Greenville at $9,630 and Guilford at $7,777.

Most union positions would see at least a 2 percent increase, said Lizotte.

Tourtelotte’s salary will see a 3.75 percent increase from $53,500 to $55,500. Dispatchers and corrections officers will have a 2.75 percent increase while the sheriff and chief deputy will both have a 3 percent increase in pay.

Part-time officials, including the commissioners, won’t get an increase in pay, said Lizotte.

“We’re stipends. Stipend, to me, means they’re not subject an increase.”

There were few questions asked during the meeting, which lasted just 15 minutes.

“I certainly don’t want to shorten the hearing if anyone has anything to say,” said Lizotte, after a long pause. “By the same token, sitting here in silence seems odd also. So if anyone has a comment or question, I would encourage you to speak now or forever hold your peace.”

“I don’t want to hold my peace,” said Sheriff John Goggin, who received laughs from the commissioners.

Goggin questioned the decision to cut overtime pay by $5,000, but increase regular part-time by $9,000.

“We look at those two lines together,” said Lizotte. “This year we have a total of $40,000 between regular part-time and overtime together. We have $15,000 in part-time and $25,000 in overtime for a total of $40,000.

“[For next] year, we increased regular part-time from $15,000 to $24,000 and reduced overtime from $25,000 to $20,000. The total of those two is a 10 percent increase over what you’ve had this year,” said Lizotte to Goggin. “Your overall budget for the sheriff’s department has increased from last year to the next year by a total of $78,791, or a percentage increase of 10.77.”

Goggin seemed unimpressed with those numbers.

“That’s not really saying what was taken away from us last year,” said Goggin.

Lizotte was quick to say that the meeting was about the 2012 budget, not about previous budgets.

“I understand that, but we lost an awful lot more than that last year,” said Goggin.

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