FARMINGTON – County commissioners approved the $4.9 million budget Tuesday as presented by the county Budget Committee. The vote was 2-1.

A vote on whether to exceed the state-directed tax cap by $39,557 was 2-1 in favor.

The budget reflects a $54,119 increase over last year.

With the commissioners’ acceptance, the assessment to taxpayers would be $4.15 million, $150,858 more than the previous year. That includes $350,000 of undesignated surplus funds used to offset the budget.

Commission Chairman Fred Hardy said he could not go along with the budget as presented. A reduction of $35,000 in overtime from the Sheriff’s Department was offset when the Budget Committee voted to increase a budgeted amount for Western Maine Community Action from $33,000 to $49,500.

While the agency provides good services for people, the county can’t afford to spend over $280,000 in program grants, Hardy said. He felt the CAP agency should have been held to the $16,500 cut, especially in light of the budget exceeding the tax-cap limit by $39,000.

The increase was given to the CAP agency provide matching grant funds for an energy conservation program to help 65 households.

Commissioner Gary McGrane thought part of the commissioners’ work was to provide as many services to residents (at lower costs) as they could. He thought the Budget Committee had reviewed it and he supported its decision. Commissioner Meldon Gilmore agreed that the budget should be supported.

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