SKOWHEGAN — Somerset County commissioners approved a $12,035,702 spending package for the coming year presented to them Thursday night by the county Budget Committee, but they continued to lament the loss of $500,000 in revenue from the boarding of federal inmates at the Somerset County Jail.

The commissioners’ approved budget includes a 1 percent overlay for emergencies, which is the sole responsibility of that board and not the Budget Committee.

The vote was unanimous with Commissioner Phil Roy of Fairfield absent.

The final budget is a combination of three spending lines, plus the overlay:

• $4,863,215 for Somerset County Jail operations.

• $2,367,551 for jail debt service.


• $4,685,771 for Somerset County general government.

The budget for the Somerset County Jail is capped by the state at $4,863,215.

The 1 percent overlay is $119,166.

Commissioners approved a $7,068,668 budget — without the jail budget — April 29 that will require roughly 16 percent more from taxation than this year’s budget does, in part because of the loss of $500,000 in annual payments once received for housing federal inmates at the county jail. The budget increase is slightly more than $951,000.

“Somerset County has gone up, on average, less than 1 percent since 2006,” County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi said before the meeting. “The thing that skews everything this year is the loss of the federal board revenue tax relief that we can no longer give. The Legislature is debating that bill as we speak.”

The jail budget is approved by the state Board of Corrections without input from the Budget Committee or county commissioners. The total budget for the county, including jail operations and a 1 percent overlay for emergencies, is slightly more than $12 million.


“I’m very happy with the budget,” DiBlasi said after Thursday night’s vote. “We felt they were very fair with us. Given the situation, we’re very happy.”

DiBlasi said she and the commissioners still are not happy that the revenue from boarding federal inmates has been lost as a means to provide tax relief to county taxpayers, but they hold out hope that the situation will change during this legislative session.

“We will stand by and hope that jail legislation passes and rectifies that situation,” she said.

The county Budget Committee, meeting in May, came up with its own spending package, which was about $15,347 less than the one county commissioners had approved, and commissioners agreed to it Thursday night.

The state Board of Corrections said in 2014 that all of the federal revenue at the Somerset County Jail must be turned over to the state to offset the state’s contribution to correctional services and not be used to help pay off the debt from the county jail construction. A Superior Court judge overruled that decision, and the board is appealing the matter to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

DiBlasi said the money was used to give municipalities tax relief by offsetting debt payments on the jail.


The spending package doesn’t reflect changes in property valuation of the paper mills in Skowhegan and Madison, commissioners said. Total taxes in Somerset County communities are set using the towns’ share of the county tax, the school budget and municipal spending approved at annual town meetings.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter: @Doug_Harlow

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