Franklin County finances panel approves practically $7.1 million finances for 2021-22

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FARMINGTON – The Franklin Budget Advisory Committee on Wednesday approved a county budget of nearly $ 7.1 million for 2021-22, an increase of $ 333,385 from the current budget. It does not take into account the expected income.

The budget committee initially added $ 58,001 to the program grants on Wednesday for funds raised over two fiscal years but not donated to Western Maine Community Action, Western Maine Transportation Services, and SeniorsPlus. Commissioners did not provide the Community Action Agency with $ 18,000 in the 2018-19 budget or $ 30,000 in the 2019-20 budget. They also failed to give $ 10,000 raised in 2019-20 to Western Maine Transportation Services and $ 1 as a placeholder for SeniorsPlus that same year for the agency to return to apply for funding the following year.

That would have brought the already $ 23,700 program grant line funded by Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation and Franklin County Firemen’s Association to $ 81,701. But for some unknown reason, the committee added an additional $ 5,000 to bring it to $ 86,701. Of that amount, the committee is asking commissioners to take $ 58,001 from the undrawn fund to pay the agencies.

In 2016 and 2017, commissioners sent letters to nonprofits informing representatives that they would be phasing out most of the grants.

Farmington-based Fen Fowler, during a public hearing on June 2, asked the budget committee to add a line for unpaid bills and put $ 58,001 in that account, to be paid out to the three nonprofits. The money was raised through taxes to the district towns. The commissioners took extra money from undisclosed funds for two consecutive years to offset the tax bill in order to repay taxpayers the funds raised that were not made available to the agencies.

Members of the Budgets Committee discussed whether to add money because the commissioners did not give the agencies what the panel had paid into the budget in previous years and the taxpayers were again taxpayers and the commissioners did not give the agencies the money. The vote was 5-4. The addition of the money voted for Bob Luce of Carrabassett Valley, Matt Smith of Farmington, Gary McGrane of Jay, Morgan Dunham of Phillips and Tiffany Maiuri of Wilton. Mauiri said she and her colleagues at Wilton believe the agencies should be funded at the county level. However, she did not want the taxpayers to adjust the money and the commissioners not to pass it on to the agencies. Against the vote were Travis Pond from New Sharon, Tom Goding from Jay, Ray Gaudette from Phillips and Tiffany Estabrook from Chesterville.

Of the total budget, $ 2.3 million is for the prison, an increase of $ 52,919 from the current budget, and $ 4.77 million, an increase of $ 280,466, is for the District government including grants determined.

The budget now goes back to the commissioners. Any changes they wish to make will require the unanimous vote of the three commissioners. If a change is made then it goes back to the Committee on Budgets and it would take six of the nine members to override the commissioners.

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