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COMMISSIONERS BUDGET WORKSHOP

AND

PUBLIC HEARING

September 24, 2014

 

Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the Budget Workshop of the Commissioners Proposed FY15/16 Unorganized Territory Budget to order at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.

 

Proposed Revenues: $35,978

Proposed Expenditures: $258,197

CFO Roy stated expenses are down from last year due to the completion of the Nicatous Road Project in 2014.  The Administration Fee, which is based on 5% of the operating cost of the UT, budget was changed to $11,720.  Operating expenses increased in the following areas: Snow Contracts by $4,000, Fire Contracts by $10,000 and Roads & Bridges by $5,000.  Expenses are down from the FY15 budget by $117,204.

The LD1 CAP for 2015 is 28.73% or $290,718 over the 2013 assessment plus the 2014 assessment limit of $225,906.  The Commissioners and Budget Advisory Committee agreed to exceed for one year the LD1 limit for 2015/16 in 2014. The new assessment falls back to 2013 LD1 limits plus the 2014 allowable assessment.  For 2016 the new percentage increases to 28.73% due mostly the Bull Hill Wind Farm.

Regarding Fire Contracts, the City of Ellsworth is the only entity that has a flat fee, all other towns are paid a stipend.  The UT Administrative fee is shown in the County Budget in Department 20, account number 101.

Account 60-02-40-4004 Attorney Services was included in the budget due to the need for legal opinions for the draft fire contracts.

Account 60-60-60-0250 Roads & Bridges, funds from this account were not utilized for the Nicatous Road Project of 2014; funds from account 70-100 and Capital Reserves paid for the Nicatous Road Project.

Regarding road work, Supervisor Billings stated that there is more work that can be done, as long as we have the funds to do the work.  If we budget for a project but the work is not done then the funds can be requested to be moved to a capital account at the end of the fiscal year.  The total cost of the Martin’s Ridge project was between $4,500 and $5,000.

Proposed Expenditures:                      $259,130

Proposed Revenue:                             $  25,978

Amount to be raised by taxation:       $223,152

Surplus is not anticipated at this time.

Commissioner Joy stated that that Supervisor Billings should present the Unorganized Territory budget during the Public Hearing.  Commissioner Blasi agreed.

Commissioner Blasi requested an up-to-date UT expenditure report and an end of the fiscal year expenditure report for FY14.

MOTION: to approved the commissioners proposed budget of expenditures in the amount of $259,130, revenues $25,978, and the amount to be raised by taxation in the amount of $223,152. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to adjourn the budget workshop. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the Public Hearing of the proposed 2015 Hancock County Budget and FY15-16 Unorganized Territory Budget to order at 6:00 p.m. on Wednesday, September 24, 2014 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.  Attendees were welcomed and the meeting was turned over to CFO Roy for presentation.  CFO Roy read aloud, MRSA Title 30-A §764.

Commissioners Proposed FY15 COUNTY Budget, to the BAC:

Expenditures:                                      $7,401,886

Revenues:                                            $1,772,198

From Undesignated Funds:                $   250,000

From Community Benefits                 $     40,000

Amount to be raised by taxation:       $5,339,688

This amount represents a 3.48% increase or $179,404 over the FY14 Budget.

The LD1 CAP for 2015 is 2.44% or $159,716 over the FY14 Budget making the allowable FY15 budget $5,286,195.  The Commissioners proposed budget is $53,492 above the allowed 2.44% Tax CAP.  The commissioner's proposed budget includes funding of a County Administrator with a wage of $70,000 and a 1.5% increase for employees.

Revenues applied to bring the budget down include $250,000 from Undesiginated Funds and $40,000 in Community Benefit Funds.  CFO Roy stated that many of the towns have requested an administrator, therefore the expense of a County Administrator is built into the budget and the commissioners have tried to hold the line in the most of the other departments, to make that happen.  Nelson Grindle of Sedgwick voiced his concern as to whether this would hurt capital improvement projects.  CFO Roy stated that at this time it is too early in the process to know.

Several projects that have taken place over the past year, that kept the FY15 budget down, include; the campus wide conversion from #2 fuel oil to propane and the installation of heat pumps in the Peters Building and the Superior and District Courtrooms.

The Community Benefit funds are based on wattage and will provide a consistent income of approximately $200,000 annually.  When Hancock Wind comes online that number may increase by another $200,000 annually.  Community Benefits can not only be used to reduce taxes, they can also be used for community projects.  TIF funds can only be used in the Unorganized Territory.  Pay increases are in line with the Union Contract.

Commissioner Brown stated that the FY15 proposed budget contains $159,855 for a County Administrator.  The propane conversion currently saves over $500 a month.  The Community Benefits funds of $40,000 that may be applied to the FY15 budget is “in hand” money.  More funds will arrive in October/November but, according to Commissioner Brown, will not be utilized unless it is “in hand.”  He cautioned using these funds annually to reduce taxes because they will eventually run out.  Previous Community Benefit projects include play grounds, fuel assistance, internet improvement projects, and other community projects.  Commissioner Brown stated that the 3.48% increase, in his opinion, was too much.  Commissioner Joy stated, regarding the County Administrator, counties are now going out to towns in order to provide county wide services or consolidate services for municipalities.  Cumberland County will be providing limited tax assessing in the near future.  The County will be asking municipalities, in the near future, if there are jobs that the county could do for them: examples given were dog catching, clam wardens, and property assessing.  When asked what the major contribution to the 3.48% increase was, the response was the cost of the County Administrator and the 1.5% wage increase.  Responsibilities of the County Administrator included contract negations, day-to-day administration, researching and providing information regarding the consolidation of the RCC and its services, and project administration.  A draft job description will be provided to the BAC members along with a cost projection.  Commissioner Brown stated that he was the union negotiator for the past year and a half; in the future, a County Administrator would be responsible for this work.  Hancock County is the 8th largest county as far as land mass and population; there are currently 3 counties who do not have a County Administrator, of those one is in the process of hiring a County Administrator by January 1, 2015.  Hancock and Waldo County's are the remaining two.  Regarding the Airport (Trenton) boat landing, $20,000 has been received in Community Benefit funds towards this project; Carlene Hanscom of the Trenton stated that in an emergency, this ramp would be a very big help and will help a lot of people.

Commissioner Joy stated that over the last 3-years the county has seen a negative .4% increase, and stated that there is a secretary in almost every department due to the way the building is build, he suggested configuring the building in order to “pool these employees” in order to save some money, this may be a job that the County Administrator would look into.  When asked if the commissioners had a target number, Commissioner Joy responded "this is what we could squeeze out of it and have the administrator."  A few years ago there were zero increases in pay, 1.25% was the contract increase for FY14 and the FY15 increase is 1.5%; with the County Administrator included in the budget proposal, the budget had to increase some.  Commissioner Brown reminded attendees that the Commissioners have until December 15th to finalize the FY15 budget, "there is an awful lot that can happen between now and then, this is way too early to drop a drop dead figure on it."  The BAC may add or subtract from the proposed budget and there may be some more money coming in "but we are not going to count on it until we have it in hand."

MOTION: to close the general fund hearing. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

UT Supervisor Millard Billings presented the UNORGANIZED TERRITORY Budget to the BAC.

Proposed Expenditures:                      $259,130

Proposed Revenues:                            $  25,978

Amount to be raised by taxation:       $223,152

This amount represents a 30.64% decrease or $99,144 below the FY14/15 Budget.

The LD1 CAP for 2015 is 28.73% or $290,718 over the 2013 assessment plus the 2014 assessment limit of $225,906.  The Commissioners and Budget Advisory Committee agreed to exceed for one year the LD1 limit for 2014/15. The new assessment falls back to 2013 LD1 limits plus the 2014 allowable assessment.  For 2016 the new percentage increases to 28.73% due mostly the Bull Hill Wind Farm which raised the assessment by $78 million dollars.

Commissioner Joy requested distribution of the UT budget, once it is printed.  Commissioner Brown questioned if the BAC will have to review the UT budget, because of the CAP..  The answer was no, since it is not over the CAP, the BAC does not have to review the UT budget.

MOTION: to close the public hearing on the UT fund budget. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Nelson Grindal of Sedgwick questioned what information the commissioners had regarding the County Administrator.  He requested to see the job description and know “what good he will do.”  Commissioner Brown clarified that the commissioners have not voted on the county administrator position and a draft job description has been written.  Preliminary costs and the job description will be distributed to BAC members

Respectfully,

 

C. DePrenger

County Clerk

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