WILTON — The Select Board heard a presentation Tuesday, Oct. 19, from state Rep. Randall Hall, R-Wilton, on Franklin County’s referendum Question 2, which asks voters if they want to increase the number of county commissioners and districts from three to five.

Hall spoke in place of state Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington, and state Sen. Russell Black, R-Wilton, who were not able to attend the meeting.

Hall supports the increase, in part because northern Franklin County would be “properly represented.”

Sixty percent of Franklin’s revenue is from the northern part of the county, he said.

“(Northern Franklin County is) only represented by one person on the board and that person said he didn’t feel like he was getting a fair shake,” Hall said. “Getting two together on the board can control things.”

He added that Franklin is among a few other counties in the state that have only three commissioners and that is a strong reason to “spread things out.”

This statement was, however, inaccurate, as 11 of the 16 counties in Maine (including Franklin) currently have just three districts and commissioners. Some of the counties with only three districts have much higher populations including Penobscot, which has over five times as many residents as Franklin.

Hall addressed a concern brought up in New Sharon about how adding commissioners would affect the county budget. He said it’s been proposed that the $12,000 stipend each commissioner receives can be pooled and split five ways.

This reasoning behind the pay cut is that the commissioners, who attend two meetings a month totaling 24 meetings a year, would be representing around 6,000 constituents with the increase, about 4,000 less than the current average of 10,000.

However, Hall also acknowledged that county commissioners decide their salaries and the proposed stipend is not guaranteed.

“I fully support this … it would solve a lot of difficulties and problems, especially looking at how you have inadvertent quorum (with two commissioners),” Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri said.

Maiuri acknowledged that as it stands, having two commissioners speaking about politics and the county is deemed a public meeting. This runs the risk of the public not having access to political matters that are handled outside of the confines of an actual county commissioners meeting.

Hall agreed with this concern, noting that it can happen inadvertently, such as “if they met in the parking lot of Walmart.”

“(More commissioners) creates dialogue, (whereas three) doesn’t bring diverse perspectives,” Maiuri added.

The proposed redistricting is as follows:

•  District 1, Chesterville and Jay.

•  District 2, part of Farmington.

•  District 3, Industry, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Strong and the rest of Farmington.

•  District 4, Avon, Phillips, Temple and Wilton.

•  District 5, other northern communities.

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