ROCKLAND — The public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposed 2022 Knox County budget of $13.8 million, which is up 9.6 percent from the approved 2021 spending package.

The public hearing is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4 at the commissioners room at the Knox County Courthouse. The meeting can be viewed online at https://townhallstreams.com/stream.php?location_id=50&id=40724.

Following the public hearing, the Knox County Commissioners and the Knox County Budget Committee will begin their review of the proposed budget. The departments scheduled to be reviewed Nov. 4 are administration and information technology, district attorney, probate, deeds and debt service.

The two boards are scheduled to have additional budget review meetings on Nov. 9, 16, 18, and 23 before the final public hearing and final votes of the boards are held Dec. 16. All the meetings, other than the final one, will be at 5 p.m. The final meeting will be at 6 p.m.

The $13.8 million budget proposed for 2022 is up $1.2 million from the approved 2021 budget of $12.6 million. The increase is due to increased pay and benefits, additional positions, and higher costs to provide medical care for inmates at the Knox County Jail.

The $13.8 million is down about $500,000 from the original draft budget reviewed by commissioners Oct. 15.

The largest account in the proposed county budget is the corrections budget which is at $5,580,000, which amounts to a $782,000 increase. The county currently pays $379,000 for inmate medical services, but that contract is expiring.

Four bids were received with only three offering comprehensive services. Each were hundreds of thousands of dollars more than the current provider is paid. Commissioners voted Wednesday, Oct. 27 to allow the administration to negotiate a contract, but the contract will still need to come back before the commissioners for approval. The leading bidder is Correctional Health Partners based in Boulder, Colo. The company provides inmate health services in Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana, the sheriff said.

The corrections budget also includes two additional corrections officer positions that the sheriff hopes reduces overtime costs.

Two other new positions — a diversion deputy and a discharge planner — were moved out of the proposed budget. Sheriff Tim Carroll said they will be considered being paid for through the federal American Recovery Plan money.

The sheriff’s patrol budget is proposed at $2,744,000, up $130,000.

The communications budget is proposed at $1,292,000, up about $9,000.

The airport budget is proposed at $833,000, about the same as 2021. The budget is fully funded by non-property tax revenues, such as fees and rent, to users of the airport.

The budget for maintaining the courthouse and public safety buildings totals $579,000, a decrease of $75,000.

The administration and information technology budget is proposed at $671,000, up $56,000.

The district attorney budget is proposed at $564,000, up $21,000. The salaries of the prosecutors are not included in the county, but instead paid through the Attorney General’s budget at the state level. The finance budget is proposed at $334,000, up $6,000. The probate budget is proposed at $296,000, up $8,000. The deeds budget is proposed at $243,000, up $19,000. Deeds is projecting it will bring in $571,000 in revenues. The emergency management agency budget is proposed at $251,000, up $7,000.

Much of the increases in the departments are due to wage and benefit increases.

Camden would pay the largest share of the county budget if the current draft is approved. The cost of county government is divided up largely on property valuations with the more valued towns paying a larger share. Camden’s payments are projected to be $1,850,000, a $133,000 increase.

Rockport is projected to pay $1,288,000, an increase of $78,000. Rockland is projected to pay $1,242,000, an increase of $96,000. St. George is projected to pay $1,128,000, an increase of $102,000. Vinalhaven is projected to pay $649,000, an increase of $48,000. Warren is proposed to pay $578,000, an increase of $66,000. Thomaston is projected to pay $529,000, an increase of $35,000. Owls Head is projected to pay $521,000, an increase of $33,000. North Haven is proposed to pay $429,000, an increase of $48,000. Cushing is projected to pay $430,000, an increase of $34,000. South Thomaston is projected to pay $400,000, an increase of $36,000. Union is projected to pay $392,000, an increase of $35,000. Friendship is projected to pay $353,000, an increase of $36,000. Hope is projected to pay $322,000, an increase of $28,000. Washington is projected to pay $250,000, an increase of $19,000. Appleton is projected to pay $212,000, an increase of $19,000. Isle au Haut is proposed to pay $87,000, an increase of $2,000.