Budget costs to shift for Knox County towns

By Stephen Betts | Oct 01, 2017

Rockland — Knox County commissioners got their first look Friday, Sept. 29, at the proposed preliminary 2018 budget, a spending package up about 3 percent from last year.

Changes in state valuations will shift costs, with some communities likely to pay less while others will see steeper-than-average increases.

County Administrator Andrew Hart and department heads met Friday to unveil a draft 2018 budget that totals $10,850,000. This is 3.3 percent more than the approved 2017 budget.

The increase is due largely to pay increases.

The county administrator said employees will receive a 1.9 percent cost-of-living increase and employees who move up a step on the longevity scale will see an additional 2 percent increase. Those workers at the top of the scale will receive 2 percent bonuses that will not count toward their base salaries.

The commissioners and budget commissioners will begin their reviews Oct. 19, at which time the first formal public hearing will be held. Final approval is scheduled for Dec. 7.

While the overall spending in the proposed 2018 county budget is up 3.3 percent, the amount of property taxes supporting that spending plan is expected to increase 4.9 percent. This is due to a decline in non-tax revenues.

Based on the proposed 2018 state valuations and the proposed budget, Camden will see a reduction in its county costs. The town is projected to see its payments to Knox County drop about $51,000 next year, to $1,365,165. Camden remains the top county taxpayer.

A municipality's share of the county budget is based on its state valuation, with the highest-valued communities paying more.

St. George will see the greatest increase, with its tax bill projected to jump $135,000, to $1,020,077.

Rockland will be paying more under the proposed new county budget and the change in state valuations. Rockland's payments to the county will increase $85,000, reaching $1,071,538.

Vinalhaven will see an increase of $78,680, increasing to $597,841.

Thomaston will pay an additional $62,405, for a total of $512,754.

Rockport will see a $61,000 increase, with its costs totaling $1,120,994.

The largest decrease will be enjoyed by North Haven, which will see its county expense drop $59,718 to $346,798.

The jail is the largest expense in the county budget, at $3,918,097. This is a $93,448 increase from 2017's approved budget.

The sheriff's patrol budget for the county is proposed at $2,272,616, up $122,224.

The communications (public safety dispatch) budget is proposed at $1,216,378, up $129,703.

The county's share of the airport budget is proposed at $590,140, down $2,015.

The administration and technology department is proposed at $526,335, up $29,057.

The county's share of the district attorney's budget is proposed at $502,909, up $19,813. The salaries and benefits for the attorneys in the department are paid through the Maine Attorney General Office's budget.

Building maintenance is proposed at $345,221, up $38,107. The largest single increase is a nearly $15,000 jump in cleaning expenses.

The finance department budget is proposed at $299,821, an increase of $10,309.

The registry of deeds budget is proposed at $259,578, up $46,738. The deeds department, however, brings in more than $400,000 in revenues for the county, to more than offset its expenses.

The annual debt costs for the county are budgeted at $208,332, down $8,309.

The emergency management agency budget is proposed at $192,368, up $10,831.

The projected costs to other municipalities for 2018 are:

Appleton $170,817, up about $7,000.

Cushing $362,577, up about $13,000.

Friendship $297,613, up about $24,000.

Hope $263,402, up about $25,000.

Isle au Haut $87,010, down about $1,500.

Matinicus Island Plantation $37,413, up about $1,500.

Owls Head $433,586, up about $39,000.

South Thomaston $339,368, up about $37,000.

Union $299,918, up about $9,000.

Warren $444,393, up about $28,000.

Washington $192,016, up about $1,500.

Comments (4)
Posted by: Dale Hayward | Oct 01, 2017 19:21

Taxes will never go down as long as we are generous with salaries and benefits. Both are the major increase in towns, cities, counties, schools and state. Our governments have better benefits than any businesses I would be willing to bet on the average. There is a social structure in all levels of government and once you are in you are in and it takes an act of the highest to ever discipline or fire any of then, good, bad, or indifferent. Rocklandia is a great example. Look around at the departments, departments heads and look at their pay, benefits, time off, health insurance, sick pay and the list goes on and on and on and on and on. Roaklandia will never lower taxes.

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 01, 2017 13:03

Come and ask your questions to Valli Geiger this afternoon 4-5PM at the Speakers' Forum at the Rite Aide flagpole. Am sure she will have an answer.
Image result for valli geiger

Posted by: Francis Mazzeo, Jr. | Oct 01, 2017 09:21

I wonder what made Rockland more valuable. Certainly not the new well paying jobs or the streets and sidewalks of the City. When a new city official or employee gets hired they claim they can't afford to live in town so they don't. "Rockland ...a nice place to work but too costly to reside in".

Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Oct 01, 2017 07:33

Social Security told us there was only a .3%  cost of living rise last year. Hmmmm.   Well, over the hill to the poor farm may become my mantra.

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