Franklin County commissioners say no to agency funds

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FARMINGTON — The Franklin County commissioners voted Tuesday to recommend no funding for several local agencies.

They include the Greater Franklin Development Council, which requested $60,000; Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services, which asked for $10,000; Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, which wanted $20,130; and Franklin County Children’s Task Force and Adult Basic Education, which each requested $10,000.

Chairman Charles Webster told several agency representatives that while their programming is worthwhile, residents in small towns with no mills and no employment cannot afford the increases.

“We’re asking the homeowner to pay higher taxes,” he said. 

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Mary Howes, board chairwoman of the Greater Franklin Development Council and Richard Davis, board member, presented the request to commissioners.

The county has funded economic development for many years, Howes said, and asked why it should stop now when it’s needed most.

The council has requested $60,000 each year, despite escalating costs, she said.

Howes reminded commissioners that $30,000 of the request could be funded with tax-increment financing revenue.

Commissioner Clyde Barker voted for funding; Commission Chairman Charles Webster and Commissioner Terry Brann voted against funding the agencies.

Some representatives of the agencies said they did not receive a letter in January from commissioners that funding would be phased out from the county budget.

While campaigning for his seat last fall, Brann said many people wanted to see the county budget decreased, he said. 

Commissioners voted to provide other programs with some funding. These included Western Maine Community Action, which requested $30,000 and commissioners recommended $20,000.

Webster said he would expect it to be $10,000 next year and nothing for the organization in the third year.

Commissioners recommended $20,000 for SeniorsPlus, which requested $30,000; $7,500 for Western Maine Transportation, which requested $10,500; and $20,000 for Franklin County Soil and Water instead of the $25,000 requested.

Commissioners will forward their recommendations to the county Budget Committee. The committee can increase or decrease the recommendations before holding a public hearing.

 abryant@sunmediagroup.net

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