FARMINGTON — Franklin County Commissioners restored funding Tuesday for two programs, Western Maine Community Action and Greater Franklin Development Corp., during their final review of the county budget for 2015-16.

The Franklin County Budget Advisory Budget Committee approved the budget last week. Commissioners made three recommendations for changes Tuesday without approving the budget.

Now the committee will have the final say on the budget and commissioners’ recommendations, County Clerk Julie Magoon said.

Reviewed on the last day of the fiscal year, the county will continue operating under the same amount for the past year, she said. Hopefully, the committee will meet next week and resolve this, she added.

While the committee’s vote on funding amounts for departments or essential services found favor with commissioners, concerns centered on program grant recipients.

After a long and sometimes emotional discussion, commissioners recommended an increase of $7,000 for a total of $40,000 for WMCA and an increase of $8,000 for a total of $50,000 for GFDC.  

The Budget Committee voted last week to reduce WMCA request’s of $40,000 to $33,000 and GFDC request of $60,000 to $42,000.

Budget Committee member Stephan Bunker, who voted against the cuts, told commissioners that what are essential services to the citizens may not be essential to commissioners.

“Oil, food, fuel — these are essentials,” he said. “I don’t think we have benefited some of our citizens with these votes.”

Pulling grocery items from two small bags, William Crandall, WMCA housing and energy services manager, explained the small amount was what some seniors receive once a month from the organization. Seniors are trying to survive on small sums of social security, he said.

Crandall was there to voice his concern over the cut to the organization and the people it affected.

“It’s hard to say, but we’re one of the poorest counties,” McGrane said as his voice cracked. “A number of people need help and are running out of resources.”

WMCA works hard for the people of Franklin County — the whole county, Barker said.

Barker also endorsed the work of GFDC under Alison Hagerstrom.

“She’s doing a good job, but can’t advertise what she’s doing,” he said.

While the Budget Committee reduced SeniorsPlus request for $34,000 to $30,000, Commissioner Clyde Barker wanted to reduce it to $10,000.

People in his area are “not getting a fair shake,” he said of limited services north of Farmington. Without a kitchen in Wilton, cold meals or TV dinners are delivered under their Meals on Wheels program to people above Farmington, he said.

In addition, Barker wants SeniorPlus to go back to the towns to seek financial support rather than the county.

McGrane did not agree with him, which left $30,000 in the budget for the organization as voted by the Budget Committee.

The two commissioners needed to agree to make a change to the budget. Commissioner Fred Hardy of New Sharon has been out sick.

District Attorney Andrew Robinson, present for the discussion, read the governing statue to mean a majority or quorum of the commissioners could accept the budget or make a budget change, if they agreed without the third commissioner present.

Commissioners also recommended a decrease in the Maine County Commissioners Association insurance risk pool for a total of $71,483. The decrease reflected a lower rate from MCCA than was previously budgeted.

“The current budget is $5,183,793 or $2,549 over the LD 1 CAP,” Magoon said. “The commissioners voted to exceed the LD 1 CAP for this year.”

Commissioners will likely postpone their July 7 meeting until after the Budget Committee meets. The county tax commitment needs to be done by July 15, she said.


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