AUBURN — On its first day in reviewing the 2022 county expenditures, the Androscoggin County Budget Committee cut $49,000 from the proposed $16.1 million proposed budget.

The committee reviewed five accounts controlled by the district attorney, four accounts overseen by the county treasurer, as well as the Building/Facilities account and one for Information Technology.

At least two more sessions to review the rest of the budget are planned for the next two Wednesdays.

Cuts included $25,000 earmarked for the capital reserve account in the Building/Facilities department and $20,000 in interest. The remaining $4,000 was cut from the DA’s budget for telephone service and electricity.

Committee members thought the remaining funds were sufficient to cover all expected costs.

In revenues, the committee increased the amount expected to be received for deferred disposition from $40,000 to $50,000, the same amount that was approved last year.

Only nine of the 14 committee members attended the meeting. Without the ability for an 11-vote supermajority, all votes Wednesday are considered advisory for the county commission, which has final say on the budget. The committee can revisit any item voted Wednesday at a later meeting in order to reach the supermajority.

Members absent were Caleb Roebuck and Walter Hill of Lewiston, Mike Lunt of Lisbon, Leroy Walker of Auburn and Kevin Nichols of Turner.

Andrew Titus of Auburn asked whether the county can use any of the $22 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to cover revenue shortfall in the budget. He and others wanted to know what percentage of the $800,000 revenue deficit was caused by the pandemic and if those funds can be used for that purpose.

County Administrator Larry Post wasn’t so sure due to all the restrictions placed on the funding by the federal government. Phillip Crowell Jr., who is also Auburn city manager, urged county officials to get clarification on the matter, adding that lost revenue does not have the same restrictions as regular spending.

The committee is looking for any area where it can cut expenses or increase revenues in a budget that would increase county taxes — a small amount compared to municipal and school spending — by 11.9% as proposed.

The county commission met prior to the committee meeting. Commissioners agreed to spend $7,525 of American Rescue Plan Act funds to upgrade and replace a “mission-critical (uninterrupted power supply) battery backup system” for the county jail.

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