AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Budget Committee began work Wednesday on the proposed 2023 budget. So far, the board likes what it sees.

At the first of four planned budget hearings, the committee made no cuts in approving the budgets for 11 accounts, covering the district attorney, facilities, information technology and the treasurer. Those accounts make up roughly 11% of the $17.3 million budget.

Interim District Attorney Alexandra Winter told the committee that despite jury trials now being held every month, her office still faces a huge backlog in cases caused by the courts shutting down during the pandemic. She called the situation “overwhelming at times.”

The committee made no recommendations to cut any of the five accounts her office oversees.

Some members of the committee expressed concerns with the amount budgeted for service contracts in the IT department following a cut by commissioners. With a large increase to that budget line proposed, commissioners had deducted $25,000 from that line and added it to the salary line to make the pay scale more competitive with the market rate for IT directors. That change still left the service contract line with an increase over the current fiscal year.

While the committee proposed no changes, Chairman Phillip Crowell of Auburn told the committee that it could revisit any account before finalizing the budget next month.

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The board supported the $20,000 cut made by commissioners in the interest account to $40,000. That account covers interest on a potential tax-anticipation note if there is a short-term cash shortage while awaiting payment of county taxes.

The interest account has been cut in half since 2021.

Interim County Administrator Clarice Proctor provided the committee with a rundown of how the county has used its $21 million share of the American Rescue Plan Act. Not counting HVAC upgrades, which the county is still waiting for final estimated costs, commissioners have so far approved spending about half of the total ARPA funds.

In response to a question last week, Proctor supplied the committee with a copy of the fund balance policy.

The vacancy in District 3, which includes Durham, Greene and parts of Lewiston, was filled by Paula Masselli of Lewiston. The 14-member Budget Committee still has one vacancy — District 2 in Lewiston.

District 1 member Robert Reed of Lewiston was absent for the second consecutive week.

Budget deliberations continue Wednesday with the committee reviewing the budgets for the registry of deeds, registry of probate, the commissioners’ office and nonpr0fit groups that receive county funding.


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