DOVER-FOXCROFT — A county budget of $2.49 million, representing a 4 percent increase over last year’s spending plan, was adopted Tuesday by Piscataquis County commissioners.
The budget will increase the mill rate from $1.324 to $1.37 per $1,000 valuation. Assessments to the 17 municipalities, two plantations and unorganized townships for the operation of county government will increase 2.9 percent.
Before adopting the spending plan Tuesday, the commissioners made reductions of $93,608 and increased the revenue from the boarding of prisoners by $10,000. Reductions were made in most departmental accounts with the largest cut coming from insurance.
Commission Chairman Eben DeWitt said more recent health insurance cost projection costs enabled the board to cut more than $20,000 from original projections.
Reductions were made in the following departments: $2,000, probate; $10,000, Sheriff’s Department; $30,087, employee benefits; $2,000, Workers’ Compensation; $1,500, Superior Court; $1,796, emergency management agency; $3,800, district attorney; $500, commissioners; $1,000, county buildings; $500, annex; $11,500, jail; and $21,425, telecommunications.
The commissioners also learned this week that the state government had not approved funds for a National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration weather radio transmitter in Piscataquis County.
Federal and state officials approached county officials earlier this year with the proposal for a radio transmitter, sparking a tug of war of sorts between Milo and Greenville. Officials from both towns had written to the commissioners suggesting that their town was the best location for the transmitter. The county had budgeted $7,500 as the local share for the project. This amount also was eliminated from the budget.
Greenville Town Manager David Cota, contacted after Tuesday’s meeting, said he was a little disappointed that the county’s application had not been funded.
“Why can’t we have the same benefits as everyone else?” he asked. Cota did note that the National Weather Service is interested in enhancing the current FAA weather site at the state forestry building on Lakeview Street in Greenville to an automated surface observing system.
Milo Town Manager Jane Jones was out of the office Tuesday and could not be reached for comment.
The Piscataquis County Unorganized Township budget for 2000 was set by the commissioners at $783,650, a decrease of $53,025 from last year’s spending plan. However, the assessment for the unorganized township budget reflects an increase of $35,603 over the 1999-2000 assessment.
In other business, the commissioners voted to contract with Monson for fire protection in Elliottsville and Blanchard on an hourly basis. Monson had requested the county pay $5,000 a year for fire coverage for each community, an increase of $1,500 per township.
The commissioners decided to go with the hourly coverage and stipulated that the contract covered only structure fires. The contract would exclude responses made by the Monson Fire Department to accidents, brush and forest fires and search-and-rescue events. The county has similar contracts with Milo for coverage of Orneville and with Millinocket for Millinocket Lake.
The commissioners also approved a contract with Monson to provide Elliottsville and Blanchard residents with solid waste disposal services. The new contract allows for a $1,000 increase per township, making the cost $3,000 per township.