FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee voted 7-2 Wednesday night to approve a $5.79 million budget for 2015-16.

The spending plan represents a $144,043 increase over the current $5.65 million budget, and it is $122,733 less than the county commissioners’ proposal. The budget includes $1.62 million to run the jail.

Committee members Stephan Bunker and Joshua Bell, both Farmington selectmen, opposed the overall budget for different reasons. Bell voted against a majority of the individual budget categories.

The proposal will go to the commissioners at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 30, at the county courthouse. It will take a unanimous vote of the commissioners present to override the budget panel’s budget.

It is expected that at least two commissioners will be there because Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon has been out sick. If they do vote to override it, it will take a two-thirds vote of the nine Budget Advisory Committee members to return to the committee’s proposal.

The committee restored $16,118 to the district attorney’s budget. Of that amount, $14,618 was for a restitution specialist shared by three counties and $1,500 for an ergonomically correct desk and associated items for Assistant District Attorney Claire Andrews. When the District Attorney’s Office moved out of the courthouse, old furniture was moved in. There was hope that a grant would help cover $1,500 of the original $2,500 amount, but it was declined this week.


The money for the specialist came with a strong recommendation to the commissioners from Strong Selectman Mike Pond to keep the position in the county.

The committee also voted to restore $13,000 to the Sheriff’s Office budget for public safety to bring it back to the $33,000 that was originally requested.

Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. initially asked for $5,000 of that back. The committee had initially reduced his overall $1.5 million request by $48,000.

Nichols told the panel that he needed the public safety line fully restored because it is going to take more money than expected to bring the Information Technology system from Somerset County to Franklin County. Nichols had agreed to use some of the money from his drug forfeiture account to pay for part of the move but didn’t expect it to use up the remaining money in the account like it will now, he said.

The public safety money is needed for unknowns that may occur in the next fiscal year that starts July 1, Nichols said.

You just don’t know — you can’t predict” what will happen, he said.


The budget panel also voted 5-2, with Bell and Jay Selectman Tim DeMillo opposed, to add $903 back into the commissioners’ pay lines to give them a 3 percent increase as the other non-union employees are expected to get.

The committee had reduced the amount to the current year’s pay except for dividing the amount equally among the three commissioners. The commissioners are already taking a cut in flex benefits because nonunion employees agreed to take on a higher deductible for insurance. The commissioners will each receive $8,887, not including flex benefits.

The committee gave the majority of the program grant receivers what was requested. In split votes, members reduced Western Maine Community Action’s request of $40,000 to $33,000, Greater Franklin Development Corp.’s request of $60,000 to $42,000 and SeniorsPlus’ request for $34,000 to $30,000.

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