FARMINGTON — Franklin County Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay refused Tuesday to apologize to members of the county Budget Advisory Committee over words he used to describe the committee’s budget process.

Budget Advisory Committee Chairman John Calloway of Avon took McGrane to task Tuesday over those words that appeared in the Sun Journal’s coverage of the meeting.

It is a “slur on our committee,” McCalloway said.

He gave McGrane a chance to apologize. Commission Chairman Fred Hardy of New Sharon asked McGrane if he had anything to say.

McGrane said “no,” he made his point on June 21 and in media reports.

“Unfortunately that makes you less of a man than I thought you were,” Calloway said.

McGrane voted against the committee’s $5.23 million budget in a commissioners’ 2-1 decision that came after much debate on June 21. McGrane said he couldn’t vote to support it because of principles. He called the committee’s process “underhanded, disingenuous to the people of Franklin County.”

The committee’s final budget differed from the commissioners’ proposed budget of $5.27 million and contained reductions to three social service agencies. Those reductions were made during a separate meeting of the committee that followed a few days after the public hearing and allowed for no public comment.

The committee went to hearing with the proposed $5.27 million budget, a number commissioners also supported.

Prior to McGrane not offering an apology, Calloway, an Avon selectman, read a statement.

“Two weeks ago Commissioner McGrane refused to support the budget presented to the commissioners by the Budget Committee,” Calloway said, “giving as his reason a sweeping indictment of the Budget Committee and the process by which they developed the budget.”

“If the reports in the press are correct Mr. McGrane accused the committee of being unethical, underhanded, disingenuous and a bunch of hijackers,” Calloway said. He said the committee, contrary to McGrane’s assessment, conducted itself in the most transparent manner possible.

“All of our meetings have been open to the public and press,” Calloway said. “We have taken minutes and made them available to anyone who was interested enough to ask for a copy. Our minutes were always available to the commissioners.”

Calloway said the budget approval process change should not have come as a surprise to anyone.

“We had decided to use that method rather than voting at public hearing when, frequently, emotion rather than reason prevailed,” he said.

It was the committee’s unanimous decision on April 19 that the members reconvene a few days after the hearing, Calloway said. The hearing was held June 6.

Every grant applicant that came before the committee was informed of the decision and it was explained during the public hearing, he said.

All discussion and voting was done in public, Calloway said.

Wilton Selectman Terry Brann, also a county  committee member, suggested the committee and commissioners hold meetings together in the future.

McGrane said commissioners do hold budget sessions with the Budget Advisory Committee in attendance. Brann said commissioners do not come to the committee’s meetings.

Hardy said he agreed with McGrane, in part, because the process was new and some people were confused. He said the committee carried out their duties as required by statute.

Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong said the committee did a good job.

County custodian Greg Roux said the committee puts in a budget number they would support prior to hearing, then it should resolve concerns.

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