FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee went on a tentative cutting spree Thursday night after learning the proposed $6.2 million budget was $96,520 over the county’s state-mandated tax cap.

Among the cuts was money to give nonunion employees 2 percent cost-of-living raises in 2016-17.

The budget panel unanimously voted to give each of the three commissioners a flat pay of $12,000 a year and to eliminate their benefit packages.

The proposed salary for commissioners was initially $9,021, including a proposed 2 percent cost-of-living increase. The county pays 35 percent toward the commissioners’ benefit packages. It was formerly 70 percent, but several years ago the committee reduced it to 35 percent.

Budget Committee member Joshua Bell, a Farmington selectmen, said he had heard from County Clerk Julie Magoon that each commissioner’s annual pay and benefit package totals $14,319. He recommended a flat $12,000, which reduces the overall amount by $2,319.

Among the other reductions were $30,000 from the sheriff’s $120,000 request to buy four new cruisers. The cruisers are on a three-year rotation. The budget panel reduced the cruiser request last year from three cruisers to two. This year Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. asked for money to replace four cruisers.

He had told the committee prior to its budget discussion that if he had to give up something, he could live without one cruiser this year but was not willing to sacrifice his public safety request of $31,000.

The sheriff’s budget request stands at $1.56 million, with the removal of $30,000 for the cruiser. It does not factor in the reduction of 2 percent cost-of-living raises for nonunion employees.

The budget panel also voted to remove $17,550 from the communications budget that now is $930,011, not including the reduction of 2 percent raises for nonunion staff. The $17,550 was to be used for half of a down payment for a new dispatch console. The other $17,550 for the down payment would have come out of tax-increment financing funds.

A new console is part of an overall plan to improve emergency radio communications in the county. Communications Center Director Stan Wheeler said the console is 12 years old and not very stable.

Replacing the computers in the dispatch work stations would not have any effect on improving the stability of the console, according to Wheeler. Any part could fail at any time and cause anywhere from a minor malfunction to a major loss of ability to communicate with field units, he said.

He said the county could enter into a lease/purchase agreement in which the county could make an initial down payment and get a five-year financing arrangement at 3.5 percent interest, resulting in payments of $32,000 per year. Console prices average about a 7 percent increase per year, he said. He had not yet proposed the plan to commissioners.

If there were an emergency, a mobile unit could be brought in, Wheeler said.

Budget Committee member Ray Gaudette, a selectman in Phillips, said new cards could be bought for the system. Several members said there is still life in the console.

Other reductions in the budget include elimination of a new vehicle in the Emergency Management Agency budget, elimination of a cellphone for the county facilities manager and reductions in program grant requests.

None of the department accounts factor in anticipated revenues that will be used to offset the overall budget.

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A public hearing on the proposed Franklin County budget, which had no exact dollar figure from the budget panel as of Thursday night, will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, June 16, in the Superior Courtroom at the county courthouse in Farmington.

The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee made tentative reductions to program grant requests in the proposed 2016-17 budget on Thursday. Most were mixed votes. Some requests were zeroed-out for various reasons, including some chief executive officers of agencies making more than $100,000, and some taxpayers being taxed twice for adult education services.

Among the reductions were:

* Adult Basic Education: $22,557 to zero;

* Tri-County Mental Health: $20,000 to zero;

* Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Services: $10,000 to zero;

* SeniorsPlus: $30,000 to zero;

* Western Maine Community Action: $40,000 to $26,000;

* Greater Franklin Development Corp.: $60,000 to $30,000;

Other program grant requests were approved as submitted.

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