AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Jail is facing a nearly $775,000 deficit, according to the proposed 2023 county budget.

Interim County Administrator Clarice Proctor gave commissioners the grim outlook at Wednesday’s meeting. She is proposing using $300,000 from reserves to lower the amount to $475,000.

The main reason for the huge shortfall, according to Proctor, is LD 1654, An Act to Stabilize State Funding for County Corrections, a bill passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Janet Mills. Proctor told commissioners state funding is relatively flat for the county jail and the tax cap cannot be raised. In past years, the county could raise the cap by 3%.

The proposed $8.4 million jail budget will see state funding increase only by $8,000, she added. That amount does not even cover the cost of raises negotiated with the corrections staff.

Commissioners will begin budget deliberations Wednesday, but are not scheduled to tackle the jail budget until Sept. 7.

The deficit has nothing to do with the planned move by the Sheriff’s Department to the former Subaru dealership on Center Street. The jail is staying next to the county courthouse on Turner Street.


Proctor recommended commissioners consider certain changes to the budget to balance the jail account, including taking the Maine State Retirement funds from the jail budget and including it in the regular county budget with the rest of the county employees. She said that alone would save the jail more than $230,000. She also suggested removing the jail’s costs for maintenance and information technology and combining them with the county departments for the same services.

Commissioners were noncommittal on the recommendations as they tried to digest the enormous hole in the proposed budget and begin examining the numbers.

In other business, commissioners agreed to a $16,200 bid from Limble for a three-year contract for a maintenance management software system to be paid with federal American Rescue Plan Act funds. Commissioners also approved a contract with Johnson Controls of Nashua, New Hampshire, for $62,788.41 to upgrade the jail’s fire panel. ARPA funds will also pay for that.

“This is a life safety issue,” Jail Administrator Maj. Jeffery Chute said. “It’s well overdue.”

The use of the ARPA funds to purchase a heavy-duty truck for the Emergency Management Agency was approved. The board agreed to earmark up to $60,000, minus any trade-in for the new vehicle

Commissioners also approved a request by the Safety Committee, led by Register of Probate Thomas Reynolds, to have county employees join the workers’ compensation safety incentive program. It could result in up to 10% credit on workers’ compensation rates for improving workplace safety. The program is voluntary for employees, Reynolds said.

“I see this as an extension for what we’re already doing,” Reynolds said.

Commissioners announced the members of the Budget Committee, who were selected by their respective municipalities. The 14-member panel includes Larry Pease, Robert Reed, Linda Scott, Bridgett Sakowski and Lee Clement, all of Lewiston; Phillip Crowell, Gordon Bell and Larry Pelletier, all of Auburn; Noel Hinkley and Angela Mitchell, both of Sabattus; Jane Pentheny of Poland; Kevin Nichols of Turner; and Lisa Cesare of Minot. There is one vacancy.

The Budget Committee will review the budget Sept. 21 after commissioners send them a preliminary one. When the committee finishes its work, commissioners will have the final say on the spending plan.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.