FARMINGTON — The Farmington Board of Selectmen decided Tuesday to send a letter to the Franklin County Commissioners and to attend the next commissioners meeting to address concerns about the release of grant funds.

Town Manager Richard Davis told selectmen Tuesday he had received several phone calls and emails from concerned residents regarding the commissioners’ decision not to release funds approved during last year’s county budget process. Western Maine Community Action had been approved for $30,000, Western Maine Transportation Services for $10,000 and SeniorsPlus for $1 as a placeholder.

“I don’t think letters are effective. They’re too easy to ignore,” Davis said. “It would be better for a contingent of selectmen from this board to attend the commissioners meeting, ask them to explain their action or lack of action.”

Selectman Michael Fogg spoke of the town meeting a few years ago at which Charlie Webster, representing the commissioners, spoke.

“He was barraged with reasons why they should be funded and his flat refusal that they weren’t going to,” Fogg said. “They haven’t changed their minds.”

Added Davis: “There’s a difference between a philosophy of not wanting to fund these agencies. Gradually phasing them out for whatever reason is one thing. When the budget gets approved, these agencies are relying on this money.”

He compared the commissioners’ action to having Farmington voters approve the library budget, then having the board decide not to pay the funds.

Selectman Matthew Smith agreed letters are not effective.

“It is harder to look someone in the face and justify what you’re doing,” he said. “It would be better for we as a board to show up and ask questions.”

Selectman Chairman Joshua Bell said he agreed somewhat with Davis.

“If budgeted, the commissioners should release the funds or give a good explanation why not,” he said. “I think their minds are made up.”

Selectman Stephan Bunker said: “This is the first time the commissioners have chosen not to authorize those expenditures. I take exception to the process.”

Added Selectman Scott Landry: “We have to pay them (county taxes), but they don’t have to pay their obligations. It wouldn’t hurt to send them a letter and visit them.”

Initially, the board planned to attend the commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday. However, when it was determined not all commissioners would be at that meeting, the decision was made to attend the commissioners’ March 17 meeting at 10 a.m. so that all commissioners could be in attendance, county Clerk Julie Magoon said Wednesday.

In other matters, the board approved the 2020 sewer budget of $1.002 million, down $307 from this year. A sewer rate of $39.90 per 500 cubic feet, with an additional $7.98 per 100 cubic feet thereafter, was also approved.

Editor’s note: The meeting between commissioners and Farmington selectmen was changed to Tuesday, March 17, to allow three county commissioners to be there. Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington is out of state at this time.


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