The public hearing for the proposed 2018 Hancock County Budget was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 6:00 pm on Thursday, September 28, 2017 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Brown and Clark in attendance.
Commissioner Blasi explained the elements of the budget workbooks. He mentioned that wages have been addressed. He said the Commissioners voted on each department and the BAC will have copies of those minutes after they are approved at the October 3 Commissioners’ regular meeting. The proposed budget is 3.51% over last year. Commissioner Brown said the budget was tentatively approved, but it is a work in progress, and that they have until December 15 to decide. He said he was not satisfied with it, and will continue to work on the budget with the County Administrator and the other Commissioners.
Commissioner Blasi asked for any public comment:
Jennifer Osborne of the Ellsworth American asked what taxpayer money is used for besides law enforcement. Commissioner Brown explained the other uses: including RCC, Deeds, Probate, and the County jail. He said they are trying to use as much community benefit money as they can for the tower and necessary equipment for Mt Waldo. Commissioner Brown said it was a good use of community benefit money, as it benefits everybody. He also referenced using building maintenance projects that were needed, such as the jail roof, the front courthouse steps, and reducing our carbon footprint by changing a boiler from oil to propane. He said this year the Commission has addressed wages, and still has an outstanding union contract with RCC to settle. Commissioner Clark said he thought it was important for the public to understand the relationship the county has with the state with regard to the county budget. He referenced the Da’s office- many of the employees are state employees, EMA- 50% of the budget is paid by the state, and Unorganized Territories- the state collects the taxes and the county is charged with maintaining services there, which are reimbursed 100%. He also referenced the Drug Task Force. Approximately 14 years ago, DTF started with $250,000 in the budget, but thanks to forfeitures and other revenues the amount of tax to cover that is now $32,000. Commissioner Blasi referenced the 4% COLA, saying he was supportive of this to help close the wage gap.
MOTION: to close the budget hearing (Brown/Clark 3-0, motion passed)
Deputy County Administrator