May 18—PARIS — The Oxford County Commission approved borrowing up to $1.5 million from its Casino Fund to avoid taking out tax anticipation notes to cover temporary budget shortfalls while waiting for towns to pay their county tax.
The decision will save the county thousands of dollars in interest.
Funds will be borrowed as needed. The amounts borrowed plus interest will be paid back to the fund as tax revenues are collected from the municipalities. All money will be repaid no later than Nov. 15.
As of April 1, the Casino Fund had $1,791,900, which grows monthly. Each month the county receives 1% of the revenue earned by Oxford Casino in Oxford from its slot machines and table games.
According to the Maine Gambling Control Board, the county has received $192,069.03 from slots and $29,408.56 from table games through the first four months of 2021, with monthly revenues increasing each month as pandemic restrictions are loosened.
The county has traditionally used the casino money for tax relief and to replace vehicles. This past year it spent $850,000 from the fund for tax relief.
Property remains a hot ticket in Oxford County. Register of Deeds Cherri Crockett said her department has already brought in $488,000 more than at this time last year and 2,200 more documents.
County Administrator Donald Durrah wants to be patient in spending funds from the American Rescue Plan. The county is scheduled to receive $11.2 million from the federal government. It has until 2024 to spend it.
"We don't want to rush into the process and spend the money," Durrah said. "We want to impact the county in the most positive way."
In other business, commissioners hired Kaitlin Armstrong as assistant jail administrator, a new position at the jail. Armstrong works at the Maine Correctional Center in Windham.
The board also hired Justin Cummings and Tyler Fournier has full-time deputies, Parker Lessard as a corrections officer and promoted Trenton Rand as a corrections corporal.
Commissioners accepted the resignation of Deputy James McLamb, who was recently named town manager of Dixfield.
The board also approved a new contract with the U.S. Forest Service that will pay the county $3,000 to provide up to 50 hours of service throughout the year to help patrol land near the Canadian border.
No action was taken on a request from state Sen. Lisa Keim of Dixfield for the county to pass a resolution supporting the Maine Food Sovereignty Act for the unorganized territories. Commissioners said they would follow the legal advice from counsel, which recommended they wait until it becomes law before.
The board also approved a liquor license for Cupsuptic Lake Campground in Oquossoc.