Franklin County Commissioner Terry Brann of Wilton and state Rep. Tina Riley, D-Jay, discuss a legislative proposal to increase the Franklin County Commission from three to five members Monday at Spruce Mountain High School in Jay. (Sun Journal Photo by Donna M. Perry)

JAY — Selectpersons voted 3-2 Monday to send a letter opposing legislation to increase the number of Franklin County commissioners and the districts they represent from three to five.

Board of Selectpersons Vice Chairman Tim DeMillo, Judy Diaz and Tom Goding voted in favor, and Chairman Terry Bergeron and Selectperson Gary McGrane were opposed to sending a letter.

Rep. Tina Riley, D-Jay, said she was asked to submit the bill, and the entire Franklin County legislative delegation has signed on to it and expressed support for it.

The intent of the bill, she said, is to give more representation to residents of the county.

LD 940 is co-sponsored by Reps. Randall Hall, R-Wilton, Frances Head, R-Bethel, H. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, and Thomas Skolfield, R-Weld, and Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton.

Riley told selectpersons a public hearing on the bill was held Monday in Augusta.

“Writing county budgets, which have been squeezed for so long from above and below, has become a significantly more painful process,” Riley wrote in her testimony at the hearing and shared with selectpersons Monday. “Services have been cut back, mill rates have gone up and, with them, the ire of the taxpayers.”

Commissioners and the Budget Committee have reduced or eliminated funding for social services, economic development and other agencies under the program grants section of the county budget.

DeMillo said he had concerns about the change. He was on the Budget Committee for seven years and a couple of years ago there was a three-minute discussion about expanding the number of commissioners. Now it’s in the Legislature and there has been no discussion, he said.

Commissioner Terry Brann of Wilton who represents District 1, which includes Jay, said that was also a concern of his.

“It makes me suspicious it is a backdoor run” because donations were cut, Diaz said.

In his time as a commissioner, Brann said there had been no problems with a three-member board. Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington, who represents Farmington, Chesterville and New Sharon, has missed four meetings this winter because he was away and it still ran smoothly. There was no problem with a quorum, Brann said.

Commissioners are paid $12,000 each per year.

Black suggested that the bill be amended to require approval by Franklin County voters, Riley said.

“I think it is important for everyone in the county to have a voice on the matter of their representation at the county level,” Black wrote in his testimony on the bill.

Riley said there will be a work session on the bill, but it had not been scheduled.

McGrane suggested that if there were a countywide referendum it should be scheduled at the same time as a state election. He said the proposed redistricting is based on population from the 2010 census and another census is coming up in 2020.

Brann said splitting up Farmington is not sitting well with people.

Under the proposal District 1 would include the part of Farmington on the west side of the Sandy River, and Temple and Wilton.

District 1 now includes Carthage, Jay, Wilton, Temple and Washington and Perkins townships.

District 2 would include the part of Farmington on the east side of the Sandy River.

District 3 would include Avon, Carthage, Coplin Plantation, North Franklin, Phillips, Rangeley, Rangeley Plantation, Sandy River, South Franklin, Strong, Weld and West Central Franklin.

District 3 now includes Avon, Carrabassett Valley, Coplin Plantation, Dallas Plantation, Eustis, Industry, Kingfield, New Vineyard, Phillips, Rangeley Plantation, Rangeley, Sandy River Plantation, Strong, Weld, and unorganized territories of East Central Franklin, North Franklin, South Franklin, West Central Franklin and Wyman Township.

District 4, if approved, would include Carrabassett Valley, Dallas Plantation, unorganized territories of East Central Franklin and Wyman Township, Industry, Kingfield, New Sharon and New Vineyard.

District 5, if approved, would include Chesterville and Jay.

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