Lincoln County’s draft 2018 budget totals $11,546,877, an increase of $195,031 or 1.72 percent from the 2017 budget.
The county expects to bring in non-tax revenue of $1,520,907, an increase of $30,225 or 2.03 percent. Thus, the amount the county would need to raise from taxes totals $10,025,970, an increase of $164,806 or 1.67 percent.
The Lincoln County Budget Advisory Committee held its first workshop on the 2018 budget in the conference room of the Lincoln County Communications Center in Wiscasset on Thursday, Oct. 12.
The committee consists of nine selectmen of Lincoln County towns, three from each of three districts, and one member of the county’s legislative delegation.
The current membership consists of Chris Doherty, of Newcastle; Bud Lewis, of Nobleboro; Terry Lowd, of Bristol; Anthony Marple, of Whitefield; Robin Mayer, of Damariscotta; Wendy Pieh, of Bremen; George Richardson, of Westport Island; Ben Rines, of Wiscasset; and Jack Sarmanian, of Edgecomb. Rep. Stephanie Hawke, R-Boothbay Harbor, is the legislative representative.
The first action of the committee was to nominate and elect a chair. Richardson nominated Lewis and the committee elected Lewis chair.
The heads of eight county departments presented their budgets and answered questions from the committee before the budget committee voted to approve each budget as presented.
The county buildings budget totals $388,618, an increase of $34,107 or 9.62 percent.
Buildings Supervisor Matt Huntley presented the budget.
Huntley said the increase is due to the consolidation of costs for electricity and heating fuel for all county buildings in the buildings budget, instead of in department budgets, where the county will see a corresponding decrease.
The probate budget is $214,529, a decrease of $436 or 0.2 percent. The office expects to bring in $95,000 in revenue in 2018, the same amount as in 2017.
Register of Probate Catherine Moore presented the budget. She said the county has a new judge of probate, a new deputy register, and a new clerk this year.
The planning budget totals $230,225, a decrease of $19,935 or 7.97 percent.
Lincoln County Regional Planning Commission Executive Director Mary Ellen Barnes presented the budget. The commission expects to bring in $21,950 in revenue in 2018, a decrease of $11,550 or 34.48 percent. Due to the overall budget decrease, however, the tax impact is still down.
The debt service budget is $877,850, a decrease of $50,000 or 5.39 percent.
Lincoln County Treasurer Rick Newell presented the debt service budget. The county’s debt service is for the construction of Two Bridges Regional Jail.
The district attorney’s budget is $273,724, an increase of $4,603 or 1.71 percent.
District Attorney Jonathan Liberman presented the budget for the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office for the first time since his appointment as district attorney May 19.
The budget for the Lincoln County Registry of Deeds is $229,611, a decrease of $4,614 or 1.97 percent.
The revenue for the registry of deeds exceeds its expenses. The registry estimates 2018 revenue at $466,057, an increase of $5,478 or 1.19 percent.
The communications budget is $1,316,690, an increase of $47,930 or 3.78 percent.
Communications Director Joseph Westrich presented the communications budget for the first time since taking over in January. The budget covers the expenses of the Lincoln County Communications Center, which dispatches emergency services across the county.
County Administrator Carrie Kipfer and County Finance Director Michelle Cearbaugh presented the administration and contingency budgets with little discussion. They also presented the budget for retiree benefits, which met with some concern from the budget committee.
The administration budget is $578,580, an increase of $16,103 or 2.86 percent. The contingency budget is $95,000, the same as last year’s.
The budget for retiree benefits is $95,122, an increase of $8,645 or 10 percent. The increase is due to an estimated increase in premiums for supplemental health insurance.
Members of the budget committee expressed concern about the cost to the county for its retirees.
In an effort to lower the cost, last year the retirees began to contribute 10 percent toward policy premiums. The budget committee recommended that the county look into ways to cut the cost even more.
The committee will hold its next meeting in the same location at 6 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 26.
The agenda will include the budgets for community programs, courts, emergency management, insurance, the jail, recycling, reserve accounts, and the sheriff’s office.
(Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the reason for an increase in the budget for retiree benefits. The Lincoln County News regrets the error.)