Joint Knox County budget panel begins department reviews

By George Chappell | Nov 05, 2012

Rockland — The Knox County Budget Committee met with the county commissioners at the courthouse Nov. 1 to review parts of the proposed 2013 county budget. Chairman Robert Duke Jr. of the budget committee and Chairman Roger Moody of the Knox County Commission called the meeting to order.

The combined budget panel had met the week before with County Administrator Andrew Hart for the initial appearance of the  $6,942,421 new budget, reflecting a 9 percent increase.

The increase was attributed to the new bond payment on the public safety building at 301 Park St. in Rockland, Hart said. That building will house the sheriff's office, Emergency Management Agency, and county dispatch office.

The financing rate is 1.866 percent and is expected to cost $25,000 in interest over the 15-year life of the bond, Hart said.

One of the first orders of business was the election of officers for the new budget committee. Robert Duke Jr. was re-elected chairman, Lawrence Nash, vice chairman, and William Jones, secretary.

At the Nov. 1 meeting, the panel reviewed budget requests from the Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission, Midcoast Economic Development District, the District Attorney, Registry of Deeds, Finance office, and Administration and Information Technology office.

The panel did not take official votes on any of the requests, but took an unofficial straw vote on each one. A final vote by the committee and the commission is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec. 11 or Tuesday, Dec. 18, following a public hearing.

At the Nov. 1 meeting, the Mid-Coast Regional Planning Commission requested $2,500 for the first time. The budget panel also considered a first-time request of $28,491 from the Mid-Coast Economic Development District, which Hart pared to a $20,000 item.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau spoke for his department in presenting a bottom line of $400,175, an increase of 11 percent from the previous year. The budget has $434,926 in proposed expenditures and anticipates $34,750 in revenues.

Salaries and wages for the six-member department totaled $265,785, and benefits came to $114,458. Contractual services included drug analysis and District Court and Superior court witness fees.

Revenues included copy revenue, reimbursement for computer support, witness fees, drug analysis and a DA Witness Advocate Grant.

Registrar of Deeds Lisa Simmons presented her department’s budget showing a decrease of $138,698 in anticipated revenues from last year. Projected salaries and wages for the four-employee department totaled $117,597, a 3-percent increase, and benefits $55,700, a 10-percent decrease.

Total expenditures came to $249,302, for a 3-percent decrease.

The panel’s straw vote was in favor of the department’s budget.

Finance Director Kathy Robinson presented her $251,312 net budget with a 4-percent increase.

Revenues for the three-member department were down 4 percent while expenditures were up 3 percent.

Salaries and wages were projected at $160,214 and benefits at $60,578, for a total of $220,978 in personnel services, reflecting a 4-percent increase.

The Administration and Information Technology budget of $458,981 met with mixed reviews. The department includes $21,357 for county commissioners, a 2-percent increase, $600 for the chairman’s stipend, and $79,898 for the county administrator’s salary, a 4-percent increase.

Systems Administrator Michael Dean said his office had increased Internet use.

Duke and Hart disagreed on the projected need for a $50,000 contractual services fee for a human resources consultant.

“Basically, I’ve got a two-person department,” Hart said. “I think it’s an important position.”

“I’m being honest,” Hart added. “I know what I do in a day, and I know what we’re spending.”

The panel’s straw vote was divided on the matter.

On Thursday, Nov. 8 at 5 p.m., county officials will review program grants for Knox-Lincoln Extension, Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water, and Time & Tide RC & D. The officials will also review the airport and the sheriff's patrol division departmental budgets.

On Thursday, Nov. 15 at 5 p.m., review will be of communications, EMA, building management, and debt service departmental budgets.

On Tuesday, Nov. 20, two days before Thanksgiving, there will be a final review session, if necessary, and a vote on the budget proposal.

The budget will be presented to the public at a hearing scheduled for Dec. 11 or Dec. 18.

Following the public hearing, the committee and the commission will hold separate votes on the budget.

Serving on this year's budget committee are Ann Matlack, Duke, Jones, Elizabeth Dickerson, A. Mason Johnson Jr., Dorothy Meriwether, Lawrence Nash and Randy Stearns.

Courier Publications reporter George Chappell can be reached by phone at 207-594-4401, ext. 117, or by email at gchappell@courierpublicationsllc.com.

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