ROCKLAND — The final votes will be held in May but there was significant support shown Thursday evening, April 14, for Knox County to continue paying most of its employees a weekly $200 bonus, and more than $2 million for projects put forth by the local homeless coalition.

The Knox County Commissioners and the Knox County Budget Committee met for more than two hours via Zoom April 14 to review proposals for spending about $7 million in money remaining from the county’s American Rescue Plan received from the federal government. The county already spent about $500,000 on extra employee pay in 2021 from the federal aid.

The money requested by the Knox County Homeless Coalition was the last item to be debated, with the two boards agreeing to support using whatever money was left for projects the coalition has proposed. The boards, however, want the coalition to provide a priority list of projects before the next county meeting April 28.

The homeless coalition had requested $4.1 million. The single largest project within that proposal is to spend $2.7 million to purchase 6 Madelyn Lane in Rockport. The property consists of six acres and two former medical office buildings that included offices for Pen Bay Family Medicine and Pen Bay Pediatrics.

Other projects included in the homeless coalition proposal are $320,000 for Habitat’s proposed housing development on Talbot Avenue; $180,000 for Habitat’s project on Philbrick Avenue; $500,000 for a program with the Homeless Coalition and the Knox County Sheriff’s Office to help inmates transition from jail or prison to the community.

After the April 28 meeting, a final hearing and vote on the projects will be held either on May 12 or May 19.

Other spending that survived the budgeting process Thursday evening was a continuation of $200 per week bonuses for county employees in five departments — sheriff’s patrol, corrections, airport security, communications, and information technology. The county provided the $200 in extra pay during most of 2021 with the federal aid.

Sheriff Tim Carroll said the extra money was essential to retain public safety employees. He said the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office has increased the starting pay for a patrol officer with no experience to $26 an hour. Knox County pays $21, he said.

“We’ve got to be more competitive,” the Sheriff said.

The department will lose officers, he said, who are waiting to see if the county will take action on the continuation of the extra pay.

Commissioner Dorothy Meriwether contended all county employees should get the extra pay not just the five departments. There are 119 employees overall for the county. Commissioner Richard Parent said the extra pay should be handled through labor contract negotiations.

The bonuses will cost about $1.2 million for 2022. Elected officials, such as the sheriff, will not receive the extra pay.

Other projects that gained approval were:

* $1.2 million for the Knox Clinic.

* $300,000 for a boat for the sheriff’s office to respond to island cases. The sheriff, a former Marine Patrol officer, said he and two other officers, including the North Haven deputy, have the training to operate such a boat and other officers can be trained.

* $60,000 for Meals on Wheels.

* $800,000 to replace cell doors at the Knox County Jail.

* $300,000 for replacing microwave communications equipment for dispatch.