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Requested county budget $652k more than 2013
PARIS -- Oxford County department heads are requesting almost $652,000 more for 2014, an 11 percent increase from this year.
The requests are the first stage in the budget process that stretches for the next three months. The budgets submitted by department heads are reviewed by the three commissioners, who pass on recommendations to a nine-member budget committee for adoption.
As requested, department expenses would increase the tax levy almost 9 percent, from $5,207,395 to $5,651,159. Each town contributes to the county budget, based on state valuation. County revenues offset the remaining expenses.
More than half of the requested increase comes from the Sheriff's Office, which is asking for $337,008 more over last year.
The department is requesting $195,564 more in wages and salaries, $45,833 for new cruisers as part of the department's fleet replacement plan and a $91,667 payment to the casino reserve, which was used to pay for new cruisers last year.
The wage increase is mainly due to a $120,896 increase in salaries for the 13 patrol deputies and two new civil deputies brought on board in a department reshuffle this year, and a $47,174 increase to fund a lieutenant's position in the investigation division, which is being jointly sponsored by the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency.
The second-largest chunk of the requested increase is $248,748 for employee benefits, mainly from an estimated $204,228 increase in health insurance.
A $134,156 increase is also being requested by the Oxford County Regional Communications Center. The center is actually requesting a $136,419 increase in wages, which is being offset by reductions in other budget lines.
According to County Administrator Scott Cole, the communication center's budget request is an accurate reflection of hours worked by dispatchers, which has not been recorded accurately in previous years.
Other increases include $16,715 for buildings and grounds, $27,000 for contributions, $8,279 for Registry of Deeds East, and $8,928 for capital reserve requests.
The increases are being softened somewhat by $133,923 in reductions, mainly due to the elimination of $124,500 for the now-defunct Civil Process Department.
A public hearing on the budget requests will be held Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the commissioners' meeting room in the Oxford County Courthouse in South Paris.
Commissioners will meet the next day to review the budget requests and make their proposals.