FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee voted Wednesday to send a proposed $7.7 million spending package to a public hearing on May 31.

It will be held at 6 p.m. in the upstairs courtroom at the Franklin County Courthouse.

The proposal, which includes the jail budget, is an increase of $691,560.36 over the current budget, not factoring in more than $600,000 in anticipated revenues.

The committee voted 4-2-1 Tuesday to add $163,130 to the commissioners’ budget for social service, education and economic development  programs. Earlier this month the Franklin County Community and Economic Development Consortium requested $210,000 for social, educational economic service organizations. However, Executive Director Charlie Woodwroth withdrew his request and asked for $1 to be a placeholder for next year.

Commissioners on Tuesday awarded the organization $120,000 from the county’s tax-increment financing funds.

Commissioners eliminated funding to those agencies about five years ago.


A few representatives of the nonprofit agencies that formed the consortium several years ago spoke about the services offered and their ongoing efforts to support older residents as they age in place in their communities. A written report was given to the budget panel.

“Services range from providing home renovations for increased safety and accessibility to increasing the capacity of the entire community in broadband technology,” according to a letter to the committee from resident Fenwick “Fen” Fowler.

Wilton resident Mike Wells said some of the social service agencies are enablers and make people dependent on the agencies instead of being independent. He also mentioned most of the service providers receive state and federal funding. He requested that working people get a break.

Most committee members voiced support for the programs, with some concerned they could put the money in the budget, which commissioners are not obligated to spend, and it could increase the tax burden on taxpayers. They also worried service providers could lose out in the long run.

Commissioners offset the amount the budget committee proposed and did not approve in the past by taking it out of the undesignated fund balance.

Committee members would like to see the money come from the county to distribute the cost fairly to the towns instead of only some towns raising money for the programs.


Fowler asked the committee to not let commissioners off the hook and to provide funding to the agencies, which are spending thousands a year to support some Franklin County residents.

Budget committee member Gary McGrane of Jay said the county would get a good return on the investment. He also said there is American Rescue Plan Act funds that could be used support the agencies.

Some agencies already have over $100,000 in requests for federal funding to support projects.

Voting in favor of adding the social services request of $163,130 to the budget were McGrane, Phillips Selectman Ray Gaudette, Carrabassett Valley Selectman Bob Luce and Farmington Selectman Stephan Bunker. Opposed were Jay Selectman Tom Goding and Farmington Selectman Matt Smith.

Smith said he supported the agencies but was concerned they could lose funding unless commissioners changed their mind, which he didn’t think would happen.

Chairwoman Tiffany Maiuri, a Wilton selectperson, who supported the services, abstained because she is on the board of the Greater Franklin Economic and Community Development. The latter was  formerly known as Greater Franklin Development Council.

Adding to the higher budget proposal are higher wages for employees, escalating fuel costs and other expenses.

Following the public hearing, the Budget Advisory Committee will set a date to hold an official vote on the spending plan. The figure would go back to commissioners, who would need to have a unanimous vote to send a budget item back to the committee. The committee would then have to have a two-thirds vote of the nine-member committee to override the commissioners’ proposal.

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