AUBURN — The Androscoggin County commissioners were in a tabling mood Wednesday evening.

The two main items on the agenda — a fund balance policy and the resignation letter from Commissioner Alfreda Fournier — were both set aside until the commissioners’ next meeting Aug. 18.

Fournier, who is moving out of her District 5 territory to another Auburn address, was absent Wednesday and asked that her resignation letter be tabled so she could present the letter herself.

The fund balance policy was tabled following a long discussion.

The policy was brought forward by administrator Larry Post and supported by County Treasurer Robert Poulin. They wanted a policy in place to set aside funds to cover potential emergencies.

While the current budget contains some contingency funds, much of that fund has been spent the past couple of years to reduce the tax levy and to cover major capital expenditures, such as rehabilitating the clock tower.

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That project is expected to start shortly.

Post was seeking to maintain an unassigned fund balance of 20 percent, which is roughly a 2½-month emergency fund. For a $7 million county budget, not counting the jail, the unassigned fund balance would equal $1.4 million.

The estimated surplus carried over from last year’s budget totaled $100,000. That’s half of the total in the 2015 budget.

In the plan presented by Post, a major portion of the surplus funds at the end of the fiscal year would be allocated to this fund.

While some commissioners liked the idea, Zachary Maher of Poland argued that the county was doing things backward. Maher felt funds should be allocated before the budget process even begins.

“We shouldn’t just be chipping away at the shortfall,” Maher said.

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His complaint was that nothing in the proposed policy required the county to place funds in the unassigned fund balance. It was more like a goal instead of a requirement.

Commissioners went back and forth on whether to table the item, amend it or send it to an upcoming workshop for further discussion. With time running up against a planned negotiation session with the union on a labor contract, the panel decided to table the proposal until its next meeting.

Commissioners also heard a presentation from John Carroll, the director of corporate communications for Central Maine Power, about its bid to connect hydropower from Quebec to the New England grid through Maine. The 145-mile transmission line would start at the Canadian border and end at the Lewiston substation on Larrabee Road.

The new lines through Androscoggin County would travel along existing lines.

Carroll said he is seeking groups to present CMP’s plan and is encouraging letters of support. He expects a decision on the bid to be decided by January 2018.

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Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. 

Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. 

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