The 2018 Knox County budget gained unanimous backing Thursday night, Dec. 7, from both the commissioners and budget committee, but there was some criticism of the package, which will require more money from nearly all communities.

"I'm not happy with this budget. There are a number of areas I totally disagree with," said Budget Committee member Randy Stearns of Camden. "I will vote for this budget, but I will be holding my nose."

Budget Committee Chairman Robert Duke Jr. of Rockport said the budget committee had been split earlier on the addition of a deputy communications director for the communications (dispatch) center.

Duke said he would support the measure this year, but would reconsider next year to see if morale and labor shortages had been addressed.

Commission Chairman Carol Maines said there already had been an improvement.

Duke said the budget increase is due largely to the need to replace the heating and cooling system in the courthouse. The first-year payment for the project — estimated to cost up to $2.3 million — will be $100,000.

In addition, the increased cost of benefits and raises of 2 percent plus step increases led to the higher budget.

The 2018 budget was approved at $10,882,258 — up about 4.4 percent.

There was only minor tweaking of the budget since it was unveiled Sept. 29 by Knox County Administrator Andrew Hart. The only area of disagreement between the commissioners and Budget Committee was whether to give $15,000 to the Midcoast Economic Development District. The commissioners had supported the spending, while the committee left it out of its recommendation.

In the end, the money was not given to the organization.

Commission member Nicholas Lapham of Tenants Harbor said he was all for economic development, but pointed out that the organization should talk with each town in the county. Stearns said Camden already contracts with the district, and that if money were added for the organization, the town would be paying twice.

"I know it's not a lot of money, but it's the principle," Stearns said.

Camden will pay the largest share of the budget, at $1,489,000, which includes the property taxes to be assessed to the town, as well as dispatch fees for the Knox County Regional Communications Center. This is an increase of $73,000.

Rockport will be paying $1,111,000, up about $52,000. Rockland is the only other Knox County community to pay in excess of $1 million, with a projected payment of $1,048,000. This is about $62,000 more than what the city paid in 2017.

North Haven is the only town projected to pay less, a drop of $54,000 to $352,000. Matinicus Island's share is expected to remain the same, at $35,000.

The jail is the largest expense in the county budget, at $3,876,071.

The sheriff's patrol budget for the county is proposed at $2,204,851.

The communications (public safety dispatch) budget is proposed at $1,212,671.

The county's share of the airport budget is proposed at $594,194.

The administration and technology department is proposed at $535,671.

Building maintenance is proposed at $517,425.

The county's share of the district attorney's budget is proposed at $498,043. The salaries and benefits for the attorneys in the department are paid through the Maine Attorney General's Office budget.

The finance department budget is proposed at $299,136.

The registry of deeds budget is proposed at $255,820. The deeds department, however, brings in $430,000 in revenues for the county, to more than offset its expenses.

The annual debt costs for the county are budgeted at $208,332.

The emergency management agency budget is proposed at $198,676.