FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee voted 5-4 Wednesday to cut the three commissioners’ annual salaries in half, to $6,000 each. A final vote on the budget won’t be taken until July 8.

Committee member Tiffany Maiuri, a Wilton selectperson, said the salaries should be more in line with what a selectmen earns. The total budget for the five members of the of Wilton Board of Selectpersons is $9,000. Many of the towns in the county have town managers, she said.

There are several townships in the county that do not have town managers and commissioners act as selectmen for those towns. They also hear tax abatement appeals for property owners in towns that do not have a board of assessment review. Commissioners have heard appeals from residents of New Vineyard, Phillips and Weld in the past. They are also responsible for county roads.

The proposed county budget of $6.82 million, which represents $2.25 million for the jail and $4.57 million for county government, would be reduced by $18,000 if the budget panel approves commissioners’ salary reductions in a final vote. However, the spending plan would then go back to commissioners.

It would take a unanimous vote to make a change. If a change is made, the proposal would go back to the Budget Advisory Committee. It would take six of the nine members of the committee to make a change. The budget panel has the final say on the budget but commissioners have the final say on how the money is spent.

The current county budget is $6.73 million.

A public hearing on the spending proposal will be held at 6 p.m. June 29 upstairs in the county Superior Courtroom.

The maximum allowed for attendance is 50 because of COVID-19 restrictions. Joshua Bell, chairman of the Budget Advisory Committee, is working out the details and may consolidate some of the department budgets and put a designated time that those budgets would be heard. That would also allow for people to attend the hearing for departments they are interested in. Also under consideration is minimizing the number of department heads who need to attend.

Seating is being reviewed to adhere to the 6-foot distancing rule.

The meeting will also be heard by teleconference and livestreamed on Mt. Blue TV.

Some attempts by committee members to raise or reduce budgets in preliminary votes were not successful.

Member Gary McGrane, a Jay selectman and former county commissioner for 27 years, tried to reduce the jail budget by more than $200,000. Member Travis Pond, a selectman in New Sharon, tried to increase the budget by $2,500 but that failed as well.

In the end, the commissioners’ proposed budget for the detention center was preliminary approved at $2.52 million.


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