AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Commission began the arduous and painstaking process Wednesday of awarding and denying funding requests from the county’s $22 million share of the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

The county needs to cut more than $5.5 million from the more than $27.5 million requested by county departments for needed capital improvements and other capital expenditures, as well as requests from outside nonprofit agencies for a variety of projects.

Requests from nonprofit agencies total nearly $9 million.

The county has strict guidelines and protocols on which projects and agencies are eligible for funding.

At Wednesday’s meeting, commissioners cut $3.7 million from the nonprofits and nearly $1.1 million from the county.

Among the agencies denied were the Poland Elderly Housing Development ($2 million), Community Little Theatre ($870,000), Szanton Co. affordable housing project within the Continental Mill complex ($500,000), Tri-County Mental Health ($150,000), An Angel’s Wing ($124,000), Church of Safe Injections ($50,000) and Maine Community Integration ($26,000).


Community Little Theatre, for example, was denied its request to renovate the building because the auditors who deal with American Rescue Plan Act compliance said it was only eligible for at most $173,414 — its revenue losses during the pandemic — but capital improvement is not listed as an approved use for lost revenue.

Three agencies approved for money were Safe Voices ($150,000), Rest Center ($20,000) and Literacy Volunteers Androscoggin ($12,500).

Commissioners previously approved funding for Leeds’ broadband project ($300,000), Museum LA’s HVAC upgrades ($300,000) and Journey House ($10,000).

According to federal guidelines, the county and the auditors will need to monitor and review the procurement process.

The county still needs to consider requests from several groups, including Seniors Plus ($500,000), Franco American Heritage Center ($500,000) and Museum LA’s request for an additional $2.1 million.

Several capital improvement projects for the county remain on hold, including a complete overhaul of the HVAC system ($5 million), replacement of 165 windows in the historic county building ($3 million) and a control panel for the county jail, which is considered a high priority ($500,000).

To date, the board has awarded nearly $10 million of the $22 million, including nearly $4.6 million for the Center Street property the county hopes will become the new home of the Sheriff’s Office.

In other business, the board approved an adjustment in wages for the administrative union, beginning in January 2023. The increase of $4,000 for three of the supervisors and placing a captain at the five-year step will bring the four closer to the market value for those positions.

Commissioners declined to enter into a 20-year contract with a solar energy company. While told that the county could save $17,000 in the first year, there was no guarantee that those savings would continue for 20 years. Selectman Garrett Mason of Lisbon said there was too much volatility in the market with the renewable energy credits. The county’s attorney advised against entering the deal.

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