FARMINGTON – Franklin County Commissioners opted Tuesday to not give the Franklin County Agricultural Society a special rate on deputies to patrol the Farmington Fair.

At their last meeting in early May, commissioners voted to raise the cost the county charges for outside organizations to hire patrol deputies for contractual services from $23 to $28 per hour per deputy.

The decision came as a result of an expected contract negotiation for union employees, and rising costs for insurance and fuel.

Despite the new rate, Deputy Chief Raymond Meldrum proposed the society this year be charged $24 per hour per deputy for the weeklong event. His argument was that the fair is a special event, one that significantly benefits the county economically.

All proceeds from the fair, he added, go back into the event and fairgrounds upkeep.

Sheriff Dennis Pike supported Meldrum’s sentiment.

“We are trying to break even, not make money,” countered Commissioner Gary McGrane about the increase. He suggested instead that if the FCAS or any outside organization wanted a break, they should appear before commissioners on an individual basis.

If the fair got a break, other organizations may expect the same, McGrane said. “I want to treat everyone fairly, and equally,” he said.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Fred Hardy suggested that because the fair was a “whole different ballgame,” mainly due to the length of the event and the amount of policing required, Meldrum’s proposal should be considered.

In the end though, commissioners chose not to take action on the proposal, instead encouraging organizations to appear before the commission and request a lower rent-a-cop fee.

Commissioners did, however, unanimously approve a rate increase for part-time deputies on special detail, like policing the fair. The approved raise was from $11 per hour to $16.

Commissioners also discussed forming an alliance between the town of Farmington and SAD 9 for fuel purchasing.

Proposed by Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis and Farmington Selectman Steve Bunker, the plan would allow each party to benefit by getting a better price break per gallon. “We would all come out ahead,” said Bunker.

The proposal from the town of Farmington is a result of a $20,000 estimate to move its fuel tanks from its old highway building to the new one.

A discussion then arose as to where the pumps would be located, and Meldrum suggested that due to security risks the tanks should not go near the jail, where the county’s fuel pumps are currently located.

“I am certainly in favor of getting together on the gallonage,” said Hardy, who also voiced concern about location of the pumps.

“If this were doable, we would probably all benefit,” said Pike.

Currently, there are a handful of pump locations all over town, including two for the Maine Department of Transportation. Other entities, like the DOT as well as the University of Maine at Farmington and Franklin Memorial Hospital, could join with the county, Farmington and SAD 9 in bulk fuel purchasing.

“I agree with this in theory 100 percent,” said Commissioner Meldon Gilmore, who mentioned that smaller area towns may complain about not getting into the bulk purchasing plan. In the end though, he said, it would save the taxpayers money as county fuel costs would be down.

No action was taken, but Bunker agreed to look into the proposal, and come back to the commissioners with raw numbers and location proposals.

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