I wanted to take this opportunity to provide you, the taxpayers of Waldo County, an opportunity to review and process some information regarding budgets.

In 2009 the county budget was $58,198.03 below the LD 1 tax cap. In 2010, it was $195,626.11 below the cap. In 2011, the budget was $499,623.35 below the cap. To summarize, in the last three years, the county budgets have been a total of more than $750,000 under the LD 1 cap. Furthermore, in 2010, the county returned $300,000 to the taxpayers of Waldo County and the 2010 audit showed a net increase of $495,000 in net worth.

I recall hearing Belfast City Manager Joseph Slocum say at a public meeting last year how difficult it is to keep budgets at zero or below zero for an extended period of time. This year we are faced with a budget, including the Reentry Center, at an increase of 8.1 percent.

In prior years we had the following increases in the budget:

• In 2009, the budget increased 2.97 percent.

• In 2010, it increased 1.04 percent.

• In 2011, it increased zero percent.

If we average the budgets for 2009 through the 2012 proposed budget, the average increase for those four years would be 3.02 percent. Please keep in mind, fellow taxpayers, that this is only one-half of the increase for any four-year period dating back to 1989.

It would appear to me that this county cannot function properly with much less than $125,000 added to the reserve accounts each year. There are a multitude of reserve accounts that this $125,000 could go into. So, over these past three years, there has been a total of $159,000 added to the reserve accounts, with zero being added in 2011.

In 2012 we are asking the Budget Committee to allocate $175,000 for the reserves. Of this $175,000, $100,000 would go to pay a lease that will be required to upgrade technology equipment and for new radios for the Communications Center.

Also, we discovered this past year that the county has an accrued employee compensated absences liability of $250,000. This is exactly the same thing, my friends, as owing a $250,000 note and not being able to pay it.

Our accountant is suggesting very strongly that we establish a system of putting $25,000 each year into the severance reserve account until we reach an amount that is somewhat substantial, which would be $150,000 to $200,000. This liability has been carried on the county’s books for several years at about $100,000 and hasn’t been adjusted to show what the true balance is.

Commodities, gasoline for the Sheriff’s patrol and fuel oil for the buildings amounts to another $100,000. In 2011 we had no adjustments made in the budget for union contracts that were being negotiated, so both those years need to be accounted for this year. We also experienced two years in having no increases in the self-funded health insurance program for the employees.

The 2012 budget, including the re-entry facility and all the various entities of the county added up, is recommended at $8,061,502. Last year we had a budget of $7,457,316. That is an increase of $604,186 (or 8.1 percent).

I have just named off to you, using multiples of $100,000 or more at a time, what drives this budget up rather quickly. A third to one-half of this cost could have been prevented had we funded our reserve accounts in the range of $125,000 to $150,000 each year. This is an area that needs to be addressed each and every year.

I would like to point out that on a very positive note we are just completing a $2,000,000 new Emergency Management Agency Office and Sheriff’s Office. This is a building that every citizen in Waldo County can be proud of. I don’t think that you run across too many counties that can build a project of this size and have it be completely paid for when the keys are turned over to the owner.

This happened because of some good work by prior county commissioners and aggressive work by the current group of commissioners in cooperation with the county administrators and staff. I think that many of the so-called wealthier communities would like to be in the strong financial position that Waldo County is in.

I would like to thank my fellow commissioners: Commissioner Amy Fowler, who has been most active in Augusta and has brought in tens of thousands of dollars through dedicated work there, and Commissioner Betty Johnson, who has been doing a lot of outreach work for the county, has attended a special grant-writing seminar (the county used to shell out about $8,000 for grant research and grant-writing services), and has had a lot of other involvement with other social agencies in Waldo County such as Healthy Waldo County.

Just this month, through a cooperative effort with our information technology contractor Jim Arseneau and EMA Director Dale Rowley, we were able to acquire $48,000 in grand funds for a Spillman CAD system update which gives the county a lightning-speed connection with all the other Spillman CAD systems in the state of Maine.

On Oct. 29, we had a meeting with the Budget Committee that was very productive. Plenty of good exchanges were made and I think everyone left the meeting feeling somewhat refreshed that they did not have a lot of long, intense discussions.

In any event, as we move on to the Nov. 30 public hearing and final Budget Committee meeting, it will be what it will be and no matter the result, this administration will continue to work very diligently and very hard to operate your county in the most efficient way possible.

Thanks to all of you for letting us be your representatives.

William Shorey, of Searsport, is a Waldo County commissioner. He serves as chairman of the three-person board.