AUBURN — Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson and County Administrator Larry Post met during a recess and identified an additional $68,000 in cuts to help balance the troubling jail budget.

The Androscoggin County Commission was expected to finalize its preliminary budget during Wednesday night’s session, but the six-plus-hour meeting was still going after 11 p.m. with commissioners debating salaries for county employees.

Commissioners did cut $200,550 from the $11.77 million budget.

The budget for the county jail was the most difficult for commissioners. State statute requires that the jail budget be balanced, but the initial budget proposed by Samson and Post was more than $300,000 over.

Before presenting the budget to commissioners, Samson had already cut $160,000 , eliminating all capital improvements and the addition of a needed records clerk.

Commissioners found a few minor cuts, but the addition of $15,000 for legal fees confounded the deficit.

“My only recommendation is to violate the (tax) cap,” Samson said. “We have to fund the jails.”

But during a recess, Samson and Post met to see if they could identify any additional cuts. They squeezed an additional $68,000 in cuts — $30,000 in overtime, $30,000 in health and dental insurance, $5,000 in unemployment compensation, $2,000 in maintenance and $1,000 in computer software.

With an additional $225,000 expected from the state, $25,000 to board up to five inmates per night from other jails and $48,000 in miscellaneous revenues, the commissioners believe they now have a balanced jail budget.

Among other cuts by the commission was to deny funding for Western Maine Transportation Services. Commissioners praised the organization, but said this was not the time to add to the budget.

Oxford and Franklin counties give money to WMTS, but this was the first time the agency sought funding from Androscoggin County.

WMTS was seeking $42,500.

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