FARMINGTON — Ten residents and Franklin County Commissioner Charles Webster met with the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday to discuss the impact and reasoning behind county budget cuts for nonprofit organizations.

Commissioners recently voted to cut the $209,330 in requests by $148,130, bringing it $61,200. Six out of 11 programs, including the Greater Franklin Development Corp., got no money.

Concerns about the tax abatement for the Verso paper mill in Jay and the amount of county taxes paid by the town prompted commissioners to make the cuts, Webster said.

Within the next five years, Webster expects Farmington, Carrabassett Valley and Rangeley to have a major increase in county taxes because of their valuations, he said.

Selectman Stephan Bunker questioned the procedure for agencies to request funding. The town previously thought it was better for them to apply to the county than to towns. Services were sometimes limited to those in towns who didn’t support the agency, he said.

Towns have held their annual meetings and appropriated funding, so where does that leave these agencies, he asked.


Concerns about the future of economic development in Franklin County were also raised.

Tax Increment Financing money from windmill projects in the northern part of the county could be used to finance economic development, Webster said. It would be for northern Franklin County but the whole county would benefit, he said.

Town Manager Richard Davis asked why support development there when most of the unemployment is in southern Franklin County.

Residents asked selectmen to take a stand on the proposed county budget regarding program grants.

Selectman Matthew Smith said he needed to hear from more residents before making that decision.

Chairman Joshua Bell is the only one on the county Budget Committee.


“I don’t just represent this board or Farmington,” he said. “I represent the second district, which includes Chesterville and New Sharon.”

Bell thanked Webster for the commissioners’ efforts to do more than rubber-stamp the budget before handing it to the Budget Committee.

“It wasn’t easy to make these calls,” Webster said. “But Farmington will have to pay what Jay is not paying.”                                                                             

A public hearing on the county budget is set for 6 p.m. June 7 at the Franklin County Courthouse in Farmington.

Franklin County Commissioner Charles Webster, right, discusses county budget cuts with the Farmington Board of Selectmen on Tuesday. Residents encouraged the board to take a stand against cuts for social service programs.

Farmington selectmen listen to Franklin County Commissioner Charles Webster and residents during Tuesday’s meeting. From left are Selectmen Michael Fogg, Stephan Bunker and Joshua Bell, Town Manager Richard Davis, and Selectmen Scott Landry and Matthew Smith.

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