Media Archive

Public hearing set for Piscataquis County budget

Article from Bangor Daily News, Tuesday, November 04, 2003

By Diana Bowley
of the NEWS Staff

DOVER-FOXCROFT - The Piscataquis County Budget Advisory Committee on Monday suggested that county officials look into the possibility of relocating the Extension service to free space for telecommunications.That suggestion came at the conclusion of the committee's review of the proposed 2004 county budget. A public hearing on the proposed $2.57 million spending plan will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 24, in the Piscataquis County Superior Courtroom.

The need to separate telecommunications from the jail's control room isn't a new issue. Town and police officials last year urged the commissioners to remove dispatch functions from the jail to provide better coverage for officers out in the field. At certain times of the day, dispatchers work from the jail "bubble" providing dispatch services while also handling jail functions, tending to walk-in traffic and responding to radio traffic.

Discussions have been held by commissioners regarding the possibility of moving telecommunications into the district court building if a new court facility is constructed. Although county and state officials agree the district court needs more space, no decision has been made on whether or not to construct a new building or add on to an existing facility.

In preparation for a separation of the two functions, Sheriff John Goggin has proposed the addition of two new positions - one for telecommunications and a corrections officer - in the proposed budget to provide his department with nine full-time dispatchers and three spares.

The committee suggested that the commissioners investigate moving the Extension service into the newly opened USDA-Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District office off Route 7 or to another facility, so telecommunications could be relocated there.

Also on Monday, the committee approved the commissioners' inclusion of $100,000 in the budget for contingency. This move was made knowing that the aging electronic door system at the jail may fail and need replacement or other emergency situations may occur.

At an earlier session, the committee voted to recommend that the base wage for nonunion employees increase gradually over a three-year period, from $6.82 per hour to $8.50 per hour. The commissioners had proposed the jump to $8.50 per hour be made in 2004.

The committee also recommended that salary increases for elected and appointed officials increase by 3.3 percent a year for three years, rather than 10 percent in one year, and recommended that salary increases for union employees remain in line with nonunion employees.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.