FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners set the interest rate for delinquent taxes at 4% on Tuesday and set Sept. 1 for paying the first half and Feb. 1, 2023, for the second half.

Commissioners set the tax rate in June at $1.29 per $1,000 of property value. It was a decrease of nearly 2 cents from the 2021-22 rate.

Commissioners also hired employees for the communications center, the jail and sheriff’s office. They also accepted $18,388 in lieu of taxes for the Appalachian Trail properties in the unorganized territories throughout the county from the U.S. Department of Interior.

Commissioners also voted to hire Niki Puchalski-Hadden, also known as Niki Cusson, as a full-time dispatcher at the Franklin County Regional Communications Center. She is a former teacher at Smart Fun Learning Adventure in Farmington, a private school.

They also hired Brandon Sholan of Farmington to work part time at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Sholan is a former Farmington police officer and works full time for the Waterville Police Department. He is Maine Criminal Justice Academy certified as a law enforcement officer.

Commissioners also hired Brianna Johnson of the Jay area as a full-time corrections officer. Johnson is a Maine Criminal Justice Academy graduate and certified corrections officer. She works for the Oxford County Jail in South Paris.


In other business, commissioners heard from auditor Ronald Smith of RHR Smith & Co. about the financial state of the county.

Financially, “you guys are rock solid,” Smith said. He recommended that the county not pay off the dispatch center, which would be about $311,000 because of the great interest rate, and to do other capital improvements that are needed.

Commissioner Lance Harvell of Farmington wanted to pay off the debt.

“I think there are more needs than paying down debt,” Smith said.

Franklin County voters approved a bond for $598,300 to build a stand-alone dispatch center in June 2012.

The county is light on capital reserve accounts, which commissioners should look at, he said.

He said the county, which has about $2.2 million in its undesignated fund balance, could go as low as $1.3 million to $1.5 million.

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