County revenues balance overspending in Sheriff’s Office, dispatch and airport

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Final Oxford County budget tallies for 2013 show revenues and expenditures almost evening out, easing concerns that the county again would have to dig into cash reserves to pay for almost $309,000 in unanticipated spending by county departments.

County commissioners plan to meet Tuesday evening to go over the numbers and set the county’s 2014 tax commitment.

According to figures provided by the Commissioners Office, significant overages at the Sheriff’s Department, Regional Communications Center and the Oxford County Regional Airport were balanced out with revenues from other departments, leaving only $3,216 in expenses that need to be covered.

Most of the expenditure overages were due to personnel costs, which account for $7 of every $10 the county spends.

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After accounting for revenues, the Oxford County Regional Communications Center went over its projected budget by $50,458 and the Sheriff’s Office went over by $73,725.

The size of the overage at the Sheriff’s Office was partially the result of not receiving about $55,300 in expected revenues, including grant funding from the federal Operation Stonegarden border security program, Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole said.

Some of the expenses in the Sheriff’s Office and Regional Communications Center were the result of unexpected hires, including a new drug investigator, but much of the spending came from the expense of shifts due to employee absences for sickness, vacation or training, Cole said.

“Less than adequate thought was given to covering absence; that could have been factored in from the beginning,” he said.

Cole said department heads have corrected their 2014 budgets to cover the cost of absences.

Operations and maintenance at the Oxford County Regional Airport in Oxford accounted for a whopping $231,387 in unexpected spending in 2014, but the cost was balanced out with about $197,800 in revenue, mostly from a substantial federal grant to pay for a perimeter fence on the airfield’s western boundary.

Several departments pulled in more revenue than expected, helping offset over expenditures in other departments, Cole noted. The Emergency Management Agency brought in $23,800 more than expected and the Register of Probate pulled down more than $10,500. The Registry of Deeds took in almost $69,600 more than expected, really helping the county’s final figures, Cole said.

“Deeds and Probate saved the county,” he said. “They were underexpended and overreceipted.”

Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 4, at the Commissioners Office in the Oxford County Courthouse in South Paris.

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