FARMINGTON —  One of two Franklin County commissioners who refused to sign a warrant on June 19 changed his mind on Monday and signed the warrant to pay $163,400 budgeted for seven organizations.

Commissioners approved the overall $7.7 million budget in June. Commissioner Lance Harvell of Farmington and Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton had both refused to sign the warrant for the grants, which is part of a $7.7 million county spending plan for 2022-23. Interim Commissioner Bob Carlton of Freeman Township signed the warrant for the grants for educational, economic development and social service programs last week.

Harvell changed his mind Monday and signed the warrant, despite the many questions that he wants answered before the budget process begins next year, he said Tuesday.

Harvell asked that an executive session with the county’s attorney to get legal opinions for his questions be added to the Aug. 16 meeting’s agenda.

In the 2022-23 budget process, commissioners sent their proposed budget to the budget committee. It did not include the $163,400 for the organizations. The Franklin County Community and Economic Development Consortium made up of members of the organizations presented the request for funding directly to the budget panel.

Commissioners stopped funding outside agencies several years ago for several reasons, including the downsizing at the paper mill in Jay, county unfunded liabilities, and the availability of federal and state funds.

The county Budget Advisory Committee has the final say on a proposed budget, but the budget panel would need six out of nine votes to override any changes made by unanimous vote of the three commissioners. However, commissioners have the final say on spending the money by signing warrants, according to state statute.

According to state law that governs the Franklin County budget, the advisory committee reviews the commissioners’ estimated budget and prepares a proposed budget and may increase, decrease or alter the estimated budget as long as the advisory committee “enters into its minutes an explanation for any suggested change in the estimated expenditures and revenues as initially presented by the county commissioners (and,) in the proposed budget, the total estimated revenues, together with the amount of county tax to be levied, equal the total estimated expenditures.”

The checks have been mailed out, county Administrator Amy Bernard said Tuesday.

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