AUGUSTA — Within three minutes of opening the final public hearing on the Kennebec County budget, the county’s Budget Committee endorsed the proposed spending plan for the upcoming budget year.

The committee’s action Tuesday echoed the vote taken earlier in the day by the Kennebec County commissioners, who voted to approve the budget 3-0, pending the action of the Budget Committee.

The commissioners and the Budget Committee also voted Tuesday to approve the budget of Unity Township, an unorganized territory in the county.

The budget is up by 2.73%, or $334,000, to bring the proposed total spending for the upcoming budget year to $12,564,612. The tax revenue required increased by 3.43% to $11,047,694.

To pay for that amount of spending, the revenue is expected to come from county-generated revenue such as fees from the Registry of Deeds and the Registry of Probate, surplus from the county’s undesignated fund balance and state funds. But the bulk of it, about $11 million, will come from the property tax payers of Kennebec County.

The county budget pays for the functions of county government, including county law enforcement and the Kennebec County jail, the District Attorney’s Office, the Registry of Deeds, the Registry of Probate, and Emergency Management.


While some budget lines showed decreases — including the Registry of Deeds, Facilities and Property Improvement — others show marked increases.

They include employee benefits, which are up about $90,000; the jail, up about $90,000; the law enforcement division, up about $20,000; salary adjustments, up about $13,000; and the District Attorney’s Office, up about $30,000.

Kennebec County Adminstrator Robert Devlin said the biggest changes in the budget were the addition of deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, making a part-time position in Probate full-time and the addition of a domestic violence investigator in the District Attorney’s Office starting in January.

The deputy, Devlin said, was added by the Budget Committee in its review of the budget, an uncommon move on the part of the committee.

In 2016, the Sheriff’s Office completed a staffing analysis that demonstrated the need for five additional deputies. Devlin said the department has been adding one a year since then; but this year, Kennebec County Sheriff Ken Mason offered to pass up asking for another deputy to forestall a budget increase.

At the close of Tuesday’s hearing, Mason stood up to thank the members of the committee, who are all municipal officials from cities and towns across the county.


The largest driver of the county budget is the Sheriff’s Office, which covers both law enforcement and the jail.

For the last several years, since the Board of Corrections was eliminated and jail consolidation abandoned, the Kennebec County jail and other jails in the state have waited for the state Legislature to act to supplement what they bring in through property taxes to support their jail.

“We don’t know yet how much the Legislature will give us for the jail, but we’ll take what money we get and back it into the budget,” Devlin said.

Because of good management at the jail and at the Sheriff’s Office, he said, the population is down, and the county is no longer paying to board inmates at other jails.

The effect of the county budget will be felt differently in the towns of Kennebec County.

“If our budget goes up 2.7%,” Devlin said, “what the towns pay is variable, based on their valuation. Last year, Waterville was negative. This year it went up some.”

Augusta’s share, up 1.7 %, is $1.6 million and tops the list; while Unity Township’s share, down by 7.5%, is $7,369. Between the high and the low are a range of changes. Rome, up 8.2%, will pay $340,964, and Chelsea, up 6.8%, will pay $179,367. Winslow, up 0.8%, will pay $630,536, and Winthrop, up 1.3 %, will pay $644,341.

Taxpayers will pay their county taxes through an assessment noted on their municipal tax bill.

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