AUGUSTA — Kennebec County officials are proposing to spend about 4% more in the upcoming budget year, but the impact on what county property taxpayers might pay could be minimal once the process is complete.

The Kennebec County Budget Committee has just started its review of the county’s proposed spending plan, but as it now stands, county officials have $17.4 million in spending requests, about $650,000 more than the current year.

Some of that spending would support additional administrative staff for the county, while other spending reflects the need to upgrade computers and other equipment for the county’s 170 employees.

On Wednesday, elected and appointed county officials reviewed the proposed spending plan for the first time, taking more than two hours to review anticipated spending, department by department.

Scott Ferguson, who started work as the county administrator about six months ago, said the document that’s being reviewed is different from what officials have seen in previous years, because it’s been reorganized to reflect the actual costs of running each of the county’s departments. For instance, each department’s proposed spending now includes its share of information technology and workers’ compensation costs. In previous years, they were listed elsewhere in the spending plan.

But they won’t consider how that spending will be paid for until the next the budget committee meeting, which will be held at 5 p.m. Wednesday in the first-floor conference room at Hill House, 125 State St.

Advertisement

Part of that discussion will include how much in surplus funds from the county’s undesignated fund balance will be applied as revenue to reduce what will be collected from property taxpayers in cities and towns across Kennebec County.

Budget committee members could also weigh in on whether they feel spending ought to be scaled back.

As it now stands, the tax revenue required to pay for county spending would increase 8.6%, which could increase what communities pay anywhere from 1.9% to 2.19% depending on changes to their equalized valuation. Applying surplus funds from the county’s undesignated fund balance could reduce that. If the county applies $200,000 of surplus funds, the increase in what communities would pay could be reduced to about 0.5%; if it applies $300,000, that increase could be reduced to 0.3%.

Ferguson said while the current budget proposal aims to bring some technology up to date, the Budget Committee can expect to see a capital improvement plan in the next year. An assessment of county facilities is currently being completed.

“We want to think forward, but we are putting out fires,” he said. “Hopefully next year, we’ll have it all laid out.”

In Maine, county governments oversee the jail and sheriff’s offices, deeds, probate and emergency management, among other duties.

Once the spending plan has been finalized, two public hearings will be scheduled. One will be in Waterville and other will be in Augusta. The vote to adopt the budget will be held following the second public hearing.

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.