BELFAST — In the first formal step in the budget approval process for fiscal year 2023, the Waldo County commissioners approved moving forward a budget proposal for review and consideration by the Waldo County Budget Committee Sept. 1.

The commissioners went through each department’s budget Sept. 1, as well as several requests from outside agencies. While the commissioners approved some budget requests as submitted, they trimmed others, often in areas of fuel costs or other line-item expenses.

The commissioners agreed to move forward with a budget proposal in the amount of $10,438,630, which is a 5.72% increase over the 2022 budget total of $9,873,618. The proposal is just an initial step in the process, with several more steps, including Budget Committee approval and public hearings, before the final budget will be put to a vote.

The commissioners passed on to the Budget Committee the Emergency Management Agency’s budget as presented. The EMA’s budget proposal for 2023 is $163,940, a 4.9% increase over the 2022 budget of $156,210.

The commissioners approved the District Attorney’s Office budget at $262,000 to move forward in the process, which was a decrease of $250 from the office’s requested budget of $262,250. The reduction came under the line item of office supplies. The proposed budget is up 4.91% from the 2022 budget of $249,730.

The commissioners reduced their own budget by $2,750 from what was originally proposed for a total proposed FY2023 budget of $322,051, which is a 3.11% increase over FY2022. The cuts were $2,000 from liability insurance, $500 from mileage and $250 from office supplies.

The commissioners approved as presented the Finance Office’s budget in the amount of $82,051, a 4.72% increase over FY2022.

The proposed Facilities Management budget was cut $2,500 from the originally proposed $334,168 for a final proposal of $331,668, with the cuts coming mostly in anticipated fuel costs expenditures. The proposed FY2023 budget is 9.56% higher than the 2022 budget of $302,740. The increases primarily were due to fuel, electric and snow removal costs.

The information technology, Registry of Deeds and Probate Court budgets were approved as presented. The county’s IT budget is proposed at $82,246 for FY2023, a 3.24% increase over the $83,538 budget for FY2022. The proposed Registry of Deeds budget is 1.12% higher in FY2023 at $248,670, compared to $245,910 in FY2023. The Probate Court saw its proposed budget rise 1.92% to $299,390, from $293,740 in FY2022.

The proposed Sheriff’s Office budget was approved at $2,309,020, a 8.32% increase over the FY2022 budget of $2,131629. The approved budget was $10,000 less than requested by the department, with the reduction coming in proposed fuel costs.

The commissioners approved the Communication Center’s proposed budget at $1,132,579, which was a $7,336 decrease from the center’s originally proposed budget. The reduction came primarily from zeroing out the center’s request under its scheduling program line item and in a reduction of fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. As approved, the department’s budget is 2.74% above the FY2022 figure of $1,102,326.

The jail budget also saw an increase in FY2023 of 4.94% to $3,189,146, up from $3,038,999 in FY2022.

In discussing the budget with department heads, the most common reason given for increases was adjustments in the county’s cost of living adjustment for employees. Many department heads said they, like many private businesses, are struggling to retain staff.

The commissioners also approved two special appropriations, both for $5,000. One was for the Waldo Community Action Partners and the other was for the Waldo County Firefighter’s Association. The commission rejected a request from Eastern Maine Development Corp. Commission Chair Amy Fowler said that while she appreciated the work done by the agency, she didn’t feel comfortable moving their request forward to the Budget Committee.