MACHIAS – The nine members of the budget advisory committee who were asked to trim Washington County’s proposed budget for 2005 took their duties seriously on Monday.
In their final meeting before county taxpayers have their say in a public hearing on Dec. 2, committee members voted to send forth a budget 3.7 percent higher than the current one.
In terms of what will have to be raised through taxes, the budget totals $4,211,824.
That represents an increase of $150,284 over the 2004 budget.
“That’s not bad, with salaries, benefits and increased needs,” said Jonesboro’s Ozias Bridgham, who serves as the committee’s chairman. “We had hoped to come in around 3 percent or so, and I think we did.”
The committee will make three additional recommendations to the three county commissioners, who have the responsibility of completing the budget. These are:
. That commissioners appoint a study committee to look at the county’s building needs.
. That commissioners address a reconciliation with the city of Calais, whose dispatch services have provided a steady backup to the county’s regional communications center through the years.
. That commissioners review the salaries paid to the probate office to determine whether it can be brought in line with the county’s registry of deeds office.
The committee took no action on a proposed reorganization of the county’s Emergency Management Agency.
Paul Thompson, the department’s director who works 32 hours a week on salary, plans to retire Feb. 1.
He floated a plan that could return him to the department at 20 hours a week as a contracted consultant in the director’s position at $20 per hour.
A new administrative assistant position which would weigh needs based on increased homeland security, would be added at a starting hourly rate of $11.29 for 32 hours a week.
None of the committee members brought a motion to consider the proposal.
They instead spent discussion time fine-tuning amounts that will go to some Washington County service providers, which have traditionally been called “third-party requests.”
Among figures approved are $50,000 for the Washington County Extension Service; $9,000 for Washington County Soil and Water; $6,500 for the Sunrise County Economic Council; $6,500 for the Washington County Firefighters Association; and $6,000 for the Eastern Maine Development Corp.
Also, the Downeast Resource Conservation and Development Council will receive $5,000, as will the Washington County Council of Governments.
The Beals-based Downeast Institute for Applied Marine Research & Education will receive $2,500.