FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to meet May 27 to develop a preliminary budget for 2015-16.

The county commissioners budget is proposed at $5.9 million, which is a $266,776 increase from this year.

The meeting will take place at 5 p.m. in the commissioners office at the county courthouse. It will be followed with a public hearing at 6 p.m. June 17 at the courthouse.

The panel will meet at 5:30 p.m. June 24 to vote on a budget that will then go back to county commissioners for review. It will take all three commissioners agreeing to a change in the budget to send it back to the budget committee. If it goes back, the committee will need a two-thirds majority to change its approved budget.

The county needs to reduce the $5.9 million spending plan by roughly $105,000 to stay within the state’s spending cap, county Clerk Julie Magoon said.

Commissioners voted earlier this month to reduce the nonunion employees point of service plan for health insurance to a lower level that will amount to $37,500 savings, she said.

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That would leave about $67,500 to cut to remain within the cap.

There is a 3.5 percent wage increase in the budget plan for nonunion employees. Some union employees are scheduled to receive a 3 percent increase and a cost-of-living raise in the coming year that was negotiated in a contract.

Magoon said the cost-of-living increase is looking to be a negative number and she believes the raise for nonunion employees would be about 3 percent.

Budget committee Chairman John Calloway of Avon said he didn’t believe county commissioners should get a 3.5 percent increase.

Magoon said commissioners will also receive a decrease in their flex benefits because of the lesser point of service health plan. Commissioners get 35 percent of of what an employee benefit package is worth. It was formerly 70 percent but the Budget Committee reduced it several years ago.

Committee member Josh Bell said he believes commissioners should not get a raise. Commissioners are elected by voters in each of the three districts in the counties. Selectmen are also elected officials and do not get raises when employees get raises, Bell said.

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The proposed commissioners budget is $153,367, which is $2,722 less than the current budget.

The commission chairman receives $8,898; the other two commissioners receive $8,430 each. However, Commission Chairman Gary McGrane of Jay proposed that each commissioner get the same amount. It is proposed that next year they each receive $8,887.

New this year is the Technical Services budget, which is proposed at $169,354. A new position for an information technology systems administrator was created to oversee the IT services in the county. All of the IT expenses in county government have been put into the new budget account.

James Desjardins, IT systems administrator, told the Budget Committee that a lot of things need to be done. He said he has found a lot of things that are supposed to be in place but are not.

The county has several contracts with outside agencies for technical support and associated services, including Somerset County.

The idea is to have Desjardins eventually take over everything that is done once the contracts expire to save the county money.

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The budget panel also reviewed a proposed $1.59 million Sheriff’s Office budget, an increase of $37,940 from this year.

“What can the Sheriff’s (Office) live without comfortably without putting us all in jeopardy?” Calloway asked Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr.

They can survive this year without one of three new cruisers included in the budget proposal, Nichols said. The cruiser account is $90,000 for three new vehicles. If one was eliminated it would be a $30,000 reduction.

He and Chief Deputy Steven Lowell drive the oldest cruisers in the fleet, Nichols said. They are more concerned that the deputies in the frontline have the better vehicles.

The deputies average 180 to 200 miles a day on each cruiser, he said.

If a cruiser is eliminated, it would leave $37,500 to cut to stay within the spending cap.

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