MACHIAS – Washington County’s budget advisory committee has its orders: Pare about $200,000 from the 2007 budget that county commissioners have proposed after conferring with 12 department leaders.
Commissioners, at a public hearing on the proposed $5.8 million budget Thursday, said that a $200,000 reduction is needed to bring the budget in compliance with LD 1 spending limits. The commissioners have recommended a $334,039 increase over the 2006 budget.
The commissioners already had figured on using $250,000 in county reserve funds to bring the budget in at $5.8 million.
“There isn’t anything in here that is set in stone,” commission Chairman Kevin Shorey said. “Aside from a $144,000 increase for employee benefits, there is nothing here that is not on the chopping block. There could be personnel changes. There could be layoffs.”
Commissioner John Crowley called the budget “a work in progress.”
“Somewhere along the line a reduction in personnel could be considered,” Crowley noted. “It’s not a popular thing to do, and each county commissioner takes it very seriously.”
Now it’s the budget advisory committee’s turn to comb through the budget line by line. The committee will hold its first working meeting at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 1.
The committee also is one member short of its requisite 10. Margery Brown of Cherryfield, who has stepped down from her selectman seat for health reasons, sent a letter of resignation to John Crowley on Oct. 6. Crowley on Thursday called someone from Columbia Falls to join the group, not realizing that the position must be filled through a formal caucus of selectmen from District 1, which encompasses towns from Steuben to Machiasport (not Machias).
Moreover, Columbia Falls already has representation on the committee in Barbara Drisko. By statute, municipalities may not be represented by more than one member at a time.
Crowley set a caucus date for 6 p.m. Friday, Oct. 27, at the Columbia Falls town office to choose the committee’s final member.
The balance of the committee includes two newcomers in David Turner of Perry and Art Glidden of Lubec. Linda Pagels, city manager in Calais, again will be chairwoman of the committee.
Other members are Drisko, Frank Joy of Steuben, John Leighton of Pembroke, Tim Call of Baileyville, Roger Holst of Alexander and Kevin Raye of Perry.