FARMINGTON – Voters agreed to reinstate $5,000 in town funding for the Abused Women’s Advocacy Project at a special town meeting Tuesday.

A citizen petition requested a town meeting be held to reconsider the decision made at the March meeting not to appropriate funding for AWAP.

Some selectmen had advice for the agency on requesting funding, in light of information gathered by Selectman Nancy Porter, who conducted an informal survey of other towns in Franklin County and found only four had received requests for funding from AWAP.

“Franklin County consists of more than Farmington,” Porter said.

Of the towns Porter surveyed, only Jay, Farmington, Rangeley and New Sharon had received requests. Rangeley gave $500; New Sharon, $1,200; and Jay, $1,000 of a $4,000 request. Several towns either did not receive requests this year or have not received them in the past several years, Porter said.

She wanted to know why AWAP wasn’t going to every town, since the agency provides coverage of domestic abuse countywide. Porter suggested that a more equitable system should be found, even if it meant Farmington paid a larger share than other towns.

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Board of Selectmen Chairman Stephan Bunker encouraged the agency to seek support from the county.

AWAP Executive Director Kathryn WilliamsPalmer said she followed the methods of her predecessors, but she agreed the budget request method needed review.

Selectman Jon Bubier told WilliamsPalmer some were concerned that labor costs in the agency’s $1.2 million budget were top-heavy for its 21 employees. Bubier said he had previously requested a detailed report on salary ranges for employees, but he hadn’t received it.

Supplying the range for types of positions, WilliamsPalmer said the agency provides services to residents, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days a year. It maintains an office in Farmington, and within the past year has helped 106 people in town by phone or in person a total of 579 times. Nineteen of 42 support group members are Farmington residents and the agency accompanied Farmington victims to court 94 times, she said.

The tri-county agency serves Franklin, Oxford and Androscoggin counties. It provides a 24-hour help line, a home for victims and an emergency shelter for male victims of domestic abuse, as well as support groups, food and clothing for victims.

Many of those helped by AWAP return to school to earn degrees and re-enter society no longer victims, but as taxpayers, she said.

Attesting to the need for supporting the agency, one young woman shared how the agency helped her when she was 7 years old and her mother escaped an abusive relationship.

“If it wasn’t for AWAP, we couldn’t have gotten out,” she said.

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