FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted Friday to accept a low bid of $69,100 from Mechanical Services Inc. to replace a failing pneumatic control system for the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system at the jail.

Thayer Corp. of Auburn bid $79,660. Both companies sent representatives to answer questions from commissioners.

The old controls would be replaced with a digital electronic system, which is expected to be energy-efficient. There are also Efficiency Maine incentives that will offset the cost. Mechanical Services will fill out the paperwork and submit it to the county.

The current controls are about 30 years old, and it has become difficult to control temperatures at the jail, Administrator Major Doug Blauvelt said. Many times someone has to go up and change them manually.

Commissioners also voted 2-1 to accept a $17,450 bid from CCC Construction of Augusta to replace a failing septic system at a residence in Madrid Township on the banks of the Sandy River. It was the only bid submitted.

Commissioners Gary McGrane of Jay and Chairman Clyde Barker of Strong voted in favor. Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington opposed it, and said the bid was too high.

The Maine Department of Environmental Protection has agreed to provide a $11,000 grant for the system, with the homeowner responsible for $1,100.

The remaining amount will be taken from the unorganized territory contingency account. If the amendment to the county’s tax-increment financing agreement with TransCanada Maine Wind Development Inc. is approved by the state, then the contingency account could be replenished by TIF funds, County Clerk Julie Magoon said.

McGrane and Barker said the system has needed to be replaced for a long time but the homeowner could not afford to. They said it is an environmental issue that has had an impact for many years and has deterred recreational use of the river in that area.

The new system is made more complex by the location, Magoon said.

Barker said it will most likely be an above-ground system that will be installed.

Webster said it seemed the price was much higher than a septic system should cost to replace. He said the county would be making all unorganized territory taxpayers help pay for the replacement. He wanted to put the system back out to bid to see if they could receive more reasonably priced ones.

Magoon checked with the DEP during the meeting and an engineer reviewed the proposed system. The DEP agreed the cost was reasonable. There is no more money available in the state’s grant program, and the current grant money needs to be used by Dec. 31.

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