FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted Tuesday to move forward with proposed changes to the laws that govern the Franklin County budget process and asking the Maine Judicial Branch to help pay for supplies, cleaning and other services at the county courthouse.

In November 2024, voters in Franklin County will elect five commissioners with staggered terms. They voted in November 2021 to expand the districts to five and to have five commissioners. There are currently three districts and three commissioners.

Commissioner Lance Harvell of Farmington, a former state legislator, has proposed draft legislation to change the rules governing Franklin County budget procedures, specifically about overriding the budget committee plan. Beginning in 2025, he wants it to take three-fifths of the commissioners, instead of the current unanimous vote, to make a change to the committee’s budget and send it back to the panel.

The piece of legislation would be introduced to the Legislature’s State and Local Committee and there would be a public hearing on it, Harvell said.

There will be five commissioners and the word unanimous is still in the law, he said. It only takes two-thirds of the nine-member Budget Advisory Committee to override commissioners changes to the budget.

It is hard to get five people to agree to get a unanimous vote, Harvell said.


Harvell said the law should reflect the change to five commissioners, and there should be equality between the commissioners and the budget panel.

Currently each district has three representatives on the budget committee from the towns, plantations and townships. With five commissioners it would be a 15-member budget panel unless changes are made to reduce the number of budget members in the five districts.

The other proposed change is to state Title 4. It would be to have Maine Judicial Branch pitch in toward supplies, maintenance, cleaning, electricity and heat costs. The county pays for those things now.

Currently there is no cost-sharing agreement, county Administrator Amy Bernard said. There are some gray areas, she added.

The county is required to provide space for the superior court in the county courthouse. But the judicial branch is not required to pay for supplies, including paper, paper towels and tissues, cleaning, maintenance, electricity and heat costs.

The draft legislation was being sent to state Rep. Scott Landry, D-Farmington.

Landry said Tuesday afternoon when reached by phone he has been considering changes to the number of budget committee members but has not decided on what to propose.

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