AUGUSTA — With little comment, the Kennebec County Budget Committee voted on Thursday to approve spending plans for Kennebec County that starts July 1.

The total spending to support the operations of the county’s government in the next budget year will be $14.3 million, with about $12.5 million raised through property taxes. That’s a 4.42% increase over the current year’s budget.

The final document reflects a change requested by committee members during budget review who were concerned about the initial 5.6% increase proposed. The spending plan includes routine increases in wages and insurance and funding for two deputy positions that were hired midway through budget year. Also requested is an additional staff assistant in Human Resources to help manage the needs of and provide on-site training for the county’s 170 employees.

Some of that increase was offset by revenue brought in through the Registry of Deeds as a result of real estate sales during the past year.

County administrative officials revised  the draft budget, adding $150,000 in fund balance to reduce what county residents would pay through property tax to cover the costs of county government functions, like the Kennebec County jail, the Registry of Deeds and the probate court.

By law, two public hearings on the budget must be held, one in the northern part of Kennebec County, and one in the southern part. On Wednesday, a public hearing was hosted via Zoom from Waterville. No member of the public asked to speak.

In a separate action, the Budget Committee also approved the assessment for Unity Township at $9,125.14, which pays for services like snowplowing and trash collection, contracted fire services, animal control and its share of the costs of the regional communication center for the township’s 24 residents.

The county’s Budget Committee is made up of municipal officials from across Kennebec County. The committee is expected to weigh in later this year when county officials discuss how $23 million in federal relief funds ought to be spent.

Over the weekend, the first of two expected payments of federal relief funds from the American Rescue Program Act was delivered to Kennebec County.

Kennebec County Administrator Robert Devlin said he’s received more guidance from the federal government on how that money can be used.

Commissioner Nancy Rines, who represents southern Kennebec County, said the commissioners will set up a schedule of meetings to discuss the funding and develop a consensus and ask the Budget Committee to take part in those discussions. County officials will also take input and suggestions.

Devlin said some money can be spent on essential employees for the county and for some infrastructure uses.

“We’ve had lots of requests,” he said.

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