Committee favors Livermore Falls' request to leave Androscoggin County

AUGUSTA — Members of a legislative committee voted 6-4 Wednesday to recommend a bill that would enable Livermore Falls to withdraw from Androscoggin County and join Franklin County.

The initial wording of LD 27 submitted by Rep. L. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, required voters in Livermore Falls to vote by referendum on the measure. If it passed there, towns in Franklin County would vote on it.

The Legislature's State and Local Government Committee amended the bill to require a vote by Androscoggin County towns, as well.

The bill next will go to the Maine House of Representatives to be debated.

Livermore Falls Town Manager Kristal Flagg testified at a March 13 public hearing in support of the bill. About five years ago, voters in a straw poll favored, by a ratio of 2-1, joining Franklin County.

The process did not move forward at the state level.

Among the issues cited in Flagg's testimony were that the town works closely with Jay, and the Franklin County jail and courts are closer, which could save the town money. Flagg said the town is asking permission to move forward and to be allowed the opportunity to seek more information on the financial impact of joining Franklin County.

Livermore Falls police Chief Ernest Steward and Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of Greater Franklin Development Corp., also testified in favor of the bill.

A letter from Leeds selectmen to Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls, a co-sponsor of the bill, asked Mason to “please kill the bill LD 27.”

The letter is included in the public record of the hearing.

“We the selectmen do not support this bill and ask that you not support it,” the letter stated. It's signed by Selectmen A. Theodore Barker, Errol F. Additon and Dwight G. Buckley. “We see no advantage to the Town of Leeds should this bill pass. This bill would just increase our share of county taxes.”

Livermore Falls resident Maurice Castonguay also testified against the bill. He is a former legislative candidate who ran against Knight in the last election and lost his bid to represent Leeds, Livermore, Livermore Falls and Wayne in District 81.

During the work session on the bill Wednesday, at least one committee member said it sounded as if the bill as it was initially written would circumvent state law.

The statute requires both counties involved, as well as the town, to vote on the bill. The committee has the right to require only Franklin County to vote on it, according to a staff analyst. The bill does not change the statute; it changes the process, she said.

Knight said the bill required only Franklin County to vote on the bill because Androscoggin County would lose Livermore Falls' money but would also not have to provide services.

The tax commitment for the town of Livermore Falls to Androscoggin County is about $162,000. The town has nearly 3,200 residents.

Knight said that prior to bringing the issue to a vote in Livermore Falls, some study would be done to see whether the move would benefit the town.

His bill would give the town the authority to do the studies, he said.

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 's picture

As a former Andy...

...who was disappointed in seeing the high school move to Jay, I'm pleased to see, by the comments on this page, that the rivalry is still very healthy.

 's picture

As a former Andie...

...who was disappointed in seeing the high school move to Jay, I pleased to see, by the comments on this page, that the rivalry is still very healthy.

Randall Pond's picture

So Negative

And you People Wonder Why Livermore Falls and Jay Died 30 years ago. Look at your Attitudes People! If Jay is so against this why Did you Force Livermore and Livermore Falls Residents to Educate their Children in YOUR TOWN! HMM? You've always claimed to have the better everything, at one time 2 papers mills and now you have one that could care less about the people they employ. Yeah Jay you've had it SO HARD! PLEASE! Get Over Yourselves!

 's picture

Looks like the only one who

Looks like the only one who will benefit out of this is livermore, I hope they keep the vote strictly to Franklin County residents and put this dead issue to bed for good, we have enough problems with you, average wait call for police is 45 minutes now in the county

CAROL PARKER's picture

Your response time will not be impacted.

We have our own police department in Livermore Falls which we voted to keep a couple of years ago for the same reason. Your response time should not be affected by us.

 's picture

I think that the town manager

I think that the town manager and selectmen in Jay should research how much this move will cost the town of Jay in county tax before the taxpayers in Jay have to vote on this proposal. It is already costing Jay taxpayers more money to educate Livermore Falls students since the school consolidation. If they are allowed to join Franklin county it could lead to Livermore Falls being able to consolidate their fire and police departments with Jay as been talked about in the past. One of the things keeping that from happening was because they were in different counties. That would lead to Jay taxpayers paying for a bigger portion of the costs.

CAROL PARKER's picture

We pay much higher taxes in

We pay much higher taxes in Livermore Falls than you do in Jay and recieve less in services (i.e. curbside trash pickup, etc.). We pay pretty heavily to operate and maintain a sewer plant into which your waste runs. Our fire department also provides much mutual aid to several towns in Franklin County already. It seems to me where we already provide much of our own services, we should not negatively impact your town's tax base. And besides, we were not crazy about the whole school consolidation deal either.

 's picture

Jay pays more than 50% of the

Jay pays more than 50% of the cost to operate the sewer treatment plant so that is a non issue as far as your taxes go. Mutual aid for both fire and police work both ways so that also is a non issue. The way it will negatively impact our tax base is perhaps with county taxes. This is the area where the town officials need to investigate. If Livermore Falls is allowed to join Franklin county, the police and fire departments could be consolidated, leading Jay taxpayers to pay 71% of the costs of both departments, as they now do with the school department. That is my point.

CAROL PARKER's picture

Non issue? You state Jay

Non issue? You state Jay uses the plant more, however Livermore Falls is paying far more for the barscreen repair at the plant than Jay. According to a Sun Journal article from Jan 21, Jay is contributing $60,000 while Livermore Falls is contributing $160,000. Jay is 54% of the usage and is only contributing 27% to the cost of the project, sounds like a good deal for you. On the issue of overall tax contributions, Jay may contribute more but residents also enjoy a much lower mil rate due to the absorption of your tax base by many more businesses there than we have here also there are about 1600 more residents in Jay. I know this because I own comparable properties in both towns and pay $900 more per year in taxes to Livermore Falls than Jay (and have to pay even more to have my trash hauled to the dump). We pay plenty to support our police and fire departments, so your fear of Jay absorbing our costs is unfounded. With having our own police department, we will not strain county services as you state. Judicial, administrative, jail, and dispatch services are what we will utilize and pay for as we do with Androscoggin county. A shift in county affiliation would be highly beneficial to you as well as us due to a more attractive tax rate attracting businesses and much needed jobs to our area which in turn would contribute more to the overall tax base and maybe even lessen Jay's overall county tax contribution. In conclusion, I would appreciate you not talking about the tax payers of Livermore Falls as though we do not contribute.

 's picture

Before you get your knickers

Before you get your knickers in a knot you might read all the articles about the repair/replacement at the sewer plant, not just the one that you reference. I think you will find the cost will be shared equally, according to the usage.
I still stand by my original comment that all the towns in Franklin county need to have the figures available as to the cost of admitting Livermore Falls into the county before any vote is taken. And that is the end of it!!


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