ELLSWORTH — County commissioners are expected next month to consider a $7.4 million budget for the upcoming year. The budget includes raises for county employees and funds to hire a county administrator.
Commissioners will vote to finalize the budget at their Dec. 12 meeting.
As proposed, the budget reflects a 3.54 percent increase from this year, said commission chairman Steven Joy.
About 90 percent of that amount is due to a new position in county government, a county administrator, he explained. Almost $160,000 has been included in the budget for the position to cover salary, benefits and expenses.
Joy said he is in hopes of keeping the final budget increase to less than two percent. The commissioners have several options for doing this, he said.
By the December meeting, commissioners will have a better handle on how much surplus from this year’s budget can be applied to lower the upcoming year’s budget.
Commissioners also have about $200,000 in funds in a community benefit account that can be applied to the budget. These funds come from a tax-break agreement the county has with Sun-Edison, the wind-energy company formerly known as First Wind.
As proposed, the $342,000 budget for the district attorney’s office and the $1.67 million budget for the Hancock County Jail show no increase from this year.
The $1.14 million sheriff’s department budget is $79,300 more than for this year, a 7.46 percent increase.
The proposed $646,100 budget for the Hancock County Regional Communications Center reflects an increase of nearly $55,000.
The budget for the Hancock County Emergency Agency is 48 percent higher than for this year, mainly due to a new deputy manager position. The proposed $186,474 is $60,570 more than for this year.
A 1.5 percent pay increase for county employees is another factor that had to be considered for the budget, Joy said.