AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Budget Committee on Wednesday recommended cutting another $34,500 from the proposed $16.1 million budget for 2022, but a bid to cut commissioners’ stipends by 25% failed.

In two of three scheduled sessions, the committee has voted to eliminate a total of $83,500 from the budget. The committee has yet to look at the budgets for the sheriff, jail and the communications center, which will be on next week’s docket.

The largest cut came in the Employee Benefit account where the committee cut $30,000. They instructed Treasurer Clarice Proctor to take the money from whichever line item she saw fit.

Four of the five social service agencies that receive funding from the county escaped unscathed as the Androscoggin-Sagadahoc Extension Association, the Androscoggin Soil Conservation District and the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments received their requested funding. Only Western Maine Transportation Services took a cut, receiving half — $2,500 — of the $5,000 increase it sought, for a total of $42,500.

The committee of residents and municipal officials approved fully funding the Registry of Deeds and Register of Probate.

The commissioners’ budget was cut by $2,000 when Lisa Cesare of Minot recommended funding the Professional Fees line item, which includes attorney fees, at this year’s rate of $8,000, which passed unanimously.

Saying he felt that the $4,000 stipend received by each of the seven commissioners was too high compared to municipal officials, Andrew Titus of Auburn tried to cut the stipends to $3,000, but it died when none of the other 11 committee members seconded the motion.

The committee once again discussed using federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to help solve the anticipated revenue shortfall, which is substantial at more than 18% from the current year, including a 25% drop with jail revenues not included.

Vice Chairman Allen Ward of Lisbon said using some federal funds “would significantly cushion” the increase for taxpayers.

The committee was also concerned that revenue from the contract to provide Poland with law enforcement services ($266,268) and payment to provide school resource officers for Regional School Unit 16 ($99,573) had been removed from the budget.

County Administrator Larry Post said they were also taken out of the expenditure side of the budget as an equal amount.

That alarmed the committee members more since that true cost for the county Sheriff’s Office was not calculated in the budget.

“I want to see the true expenditure increase that it would have been if you had not backed out the revenue,” Ward said.

Post said he would have that figure available when the committee looks at the sheriff’s budget next week.

Stephen Milks of Auburn joined the committee as a replacement for Leroy Walker.

Absent Wednesday were Walter Hill of Lewiston and Anthony Reny of Greene.

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