Franklin County commissioners, from left, Clyde Barker of Strong, Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton and Lance Harvell of Farmington meet Tuesday in Superior Court in Farmington. They set the tax rate at $1.31 per $1,000 of valuation for 2021-22. Donna M. Perry/Sun Journal

FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to set the tax rate for 2021-22 at $1.31 per $1,000 of property valuation, a decrease of one cent from the fiscal year ending June 30.

All but the towns of Carthage, Phillips and the unorganized territory as a whole saw an increase in valuation, according to information provided at the meeting. Carthage and Phillips were each down $1 million in property valuation and the unorganized territory valuation decreased by $2.95 million from the previous year. Of the 21 towns and plantations, Carrabassett Valley’s state valuation reflected the highest increase. The valuation was $701.8 million, an increase of $43.75 million.

The overall tax assessment is about $6 million, and there is an additional $42,600 to be used for overlay.

“The purpose of the overlay is to provide a backup source for unexpected shortfalls in property tax revenue,” county Finance Manager Vickie Braley wrote in an email.  “It’s to cover any deficiencies in property tax collections.”

County commissioners and the Budget Advisory Committee agreed on a $7 million spending plan on July 6 and 7, respectively. It represents an increase of $213,810 more than in 2020-21. It will be offset by $541,000 in anticipated revenue and $175,000 from the undesignated fund on the county government side. Revenues for the jail budget are not factored in.

Of the total budget, $4.7 million is for the county government side, including commissioners, deeds, probate, district attorney, communications and sheriff’s budgets, and $2.3 million is for the jail. The jail budget reflects an increase of $52,919 from 2020-21.

Commissioners also set 6% interest rate for delinquent taxes. The first half of the tax bill is due on or before Sept. 1 and the second half is due by Feb. 1, 2022.

In other business, commissioners voted 2-0-1 to pay Deborah Whitworth, owner of HR Studio Group of Portland, $300 per hour to conduct an internal investigation of county government. Officials gave no reason for or details about the inquiry.

Commissioners voted in June to hire Whitworth, a member of the Maine Human Rights Commission.

Commissioners Clyde Barker of Strong and Lance Harvell of Farmington approved the amount. Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton abstained.

Following an executive session, commissioners voted unanimously to set the salary for Register of Deeds Susan Black at $46,000. They took no action after an executive session on a wage reclassification for the cook supervisor.

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