What does county government do?

ELLSWORTH — Why do we have county government and where does all the county tax money go?

County taxes fund the Sheriff’s Office’s law enforcement budget as well as the Hancock County Jail and the Hancock County Regional Communications Center. All of those departments operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The county also is required by Maine statute to fund the Registry of Deeds and Registry of Probate as well as a maintenance budget for the Hancock County Courthouse.

The budget also funds support staff at the Hancock County District Attorney’s Office.

The county budget includes funding for the Hancock County Commissioners to conduct business.

The budget covers fire protection and other services to the unorganized territories, which have no municipal government.

One county government exception is the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport. No county tax money is used for airport operations. The airport’s budget is funded through user fees as well as rents and fees charged to tenants at the airport as well as airline operators.

The county does take in revenues, which for 2019 were proposed to be $2.3 million. Revenues are largely derived from sheriff’s contracts with towns for extra police patrols, fees for 911-dispatching and fees from the Registry of Deeds and probate services.

A budget advisory committee of municipal officials, largely town managers and selectmen, reviews the proposed budgets each year during the fall and makes recommendations to the commissioners.

Hancock County 2019 Budget Expenditures


By department

(Costs include employee salaries and personnel services, supplies, utilities, maintenance and repairs, insurance, contractual services, equipment purchases and other costs.)

Emergency Management Agency                             $225,650

District Attorney’s Office                                         $383,035

Commissioners                                                          $349,378

Treasurer                                                                   $131,468

Maintenance                                                              $440,847

Regional Communications Center (RCC dispatch)  $766,743

Probate                                                                       $202,307

Deeds                                                                         $309,078

Sheriff’s Office                                                          $1,507,424

Town contracts (Sheriff)                                            $283,915

Civil Process                                                              $136,771

Communications (telephone and internet)                 $44,500

Debt and overlay                                                        $0

Donations                                                                   $170,330

Health insurance, airport and unorganized territory  $1,145,000

Reserves                                                                     $60,000

Drug Task Force                                                         $288,701

Hancock County Jail                                                  $1,890,009

Total expenditures                                                   $8,335,157

Jennifer Osborn

Jennifer Osborn

Reporter and columnist at The Ellsworth American
News Reporter Jennifer Osborn covers news and features on the Blue Hill Peninsula and Deer Isle-Stonington. She welcomes tips and story ideas. She also writes the Gone Shopping column. Email Jennifer with your suggestions at [email protected] or call 667-2576.

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