SKOWHEGAN — Somerset County commissioners and county department heads approved an $11.7 million budget for the coming year after a full day of deliberations Wednesday.

The proposed spending package is roughly $570,000 lower than the current budget, which expires June 30. The total plan will be sent to the 10-member county Budget Committee for review before a public hearing and final adoption.

The first meeting of the Budget Committee is April 25.

Interim County Administrator Earla Haggerty said the budget represents proposed spending for operations at the Somerset County jail, the debt service on the jail, 12 spending lines for county departments and just over $110,000 in overlay, an amount set aside to cover emergency expenses.

The budget has been broken down as follows:

• Jail operations: $4,863,215, which is the same as in the current budget.

• Jail debt service: $2,495,879, which is $61,737 less than the current year.

• County departments: $3,678,161, which is $389,203 less than this year.

• Overlay: $110,372, which is $229,763 less than the 2013 budget.

• Total county budget for taxation: $11,147,628, which is $570,331 lower than the current budget.

If approved, the spending will be distributed among the 34 towns, plantations and territories in the county. The current tax rate for Somerset County communities is $2.18 for every $1,000 in property valuation.

Haggerty said county commissioners agreed to take $100,000 from surplus accounts to offset spending in the general fund budget for county departments. There is about $900,000 in county surplus, she said.

There were no layoffs in the general fund portion of the budget. The itemized jail budget will be available next week and will include revenues from the housing of federal prisoners, an issue that is being discussed with the state Board of Corrections.

“We went almost line by line through this budget,” Haggerty said. “Out of our 500 accounts, we probably lowered 150 of them.”

The Budget Committee can make changes to the commissioners’ recommended budget beginning later this month.

If commissioners agree with changes in the spending package at the final budget meeting in June, the budget is approved. If commissioners disagree and make their own changes, the budget goes back to the Budget Committee, where a two-thirds vote is needed to override the commissioners’ recommendations.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367
[email protected]


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