Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. Courtesy photo

FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners will decide on a proposed $1.35 million budget for the unorganized territory at their next meeting Dec. 17.

No one from the territory attended a public hearing on the 2020-21 spending plan Tuesday.

After revenues are factored in, the tax assessment for the territory would be $1.18 million, according to county Clerk Julie Magoon’s information. As is, the proposed budget is $186,822 more than the current one of $1.16 million.

The package includes $111,000 for a new deputy position and a cruiser.

An effort to get a law changed to allow the county’s tax-increment financing funds to cover the position was rejected, Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton said.

Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr. said he believed Somerset County had a deputy dedicated to its unorganized territory.

Brann spoke in favor of the position.

“I think it is the right way to go,” he said.

Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong, whose district covers the bulk of the unorganized territory, favored adding the position in 2016. It was rejected by former Commissioner Gary McGrane of Jay and Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington.

Webster was not at the meeting Tuesday.

There is also a proposed $49,473 increase in the snow removal budget attributed to a new contract for the West Freeman section of Freeman Township.

If commissioners approve the budget proposal, it will be sent to the state unorganized fiscal administrator for review. From there, it would go the state Legislature for consideration and if approved it would be effective July 1, 2020.

In other business, commissioners opened two proposals to provide mental health and substance abuse services at the jail.

Western Maine Behavioral Health submitted a proposal for $36,012 and Clearwater Counseling and Consulting submitted a proposal for $30,000 for Jan.1 through June 30, 2020.

Commissioners voted in September to terminate a contract with Evergreen Behavioral Services. The agency had a change in staffing that would not have given the jail access to the licensed and certified staff necessary to be in compliance with the Maine Department of Corrections standards, Nichols previously said, and noted that it was not punitive.

The county has been using Sinskie Therapy Services in the interim.

Evergreen, a division of Maine Behavioral Healthcare, had been in its third year of a contract that was to expire in the spring of 2020.


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