Ten years after Greater Franklin Development Corporation’s original goal to be entirely privately funded, the Franklin County budget committee weighed what level of funding the county should continue to give the agency.

The agency is requesting $60,000, up from $48,000 from the last year, as part of the proposed Franklin County budget, which totals $5.66 million.

The presentation by Greater Franklin Development Corporation was part of a public hearing on the total proposed budget, which will go to a vote by the committee at 5 p.m. Wednesday.

The founders of the development group set a deadline in 1998 to be privately funded in five years and slowly work their way off county money.

However, Alison Hagerstrom, executive director of the development group, said the corporation has struggled to secure private donors and was hit when the market crashed in 2008. She said since 2008, private donations have dipped from $50,000 to $39,000.

Hagerstrom said since 1998 the organization has been a key to recruiting and retaining area businesses like Poland Spring and Comfort Inn and Suites.

Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis, a member of the organization’s board, said that Hagerstrom is “pretty much a one-woman show” and that because she doesn’t have more staff, she can’t be expected to also have the time to both fundraise and attract business.

Hagerstrom said that her organization, working with state Sen. Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, has also been one of the key figures working to bring natural gas to the Farmington area. Hagerstrom previously conducted a survey to demonstrate local interest in Summit Natural Gas, and she said she has continued to follow up with the company to check on the progress of the pipeline that is already being built in the Augusta and Waterville areas.

Strong Selectman Mike Pond said that he is concerned about funding the organization’s request when he sees more pressing needs in the community.

“We all know there are other needs besides supporting Greater Franklin at this level of commitment,” he said. “We don’t put that into our adult ed.”

Adult Basic Education was also a topic of discussion at the public hearing. The organization is requesting $22,557, up from $17,425 from the year prior.

The organization has been subject of debate over whether the community is double-dipping by supporting it through county and school taxes.

Ray Therrien, director of adult education, said the organization provides services beyond the scope of just working with the school districts and also holds classes like training for former convicts looking for work.

He said the job training helps get people into the workforce and off public assistance programs.

“We like to think of it, and we like to think you think of it, as an investment,” he said.

Avon Selectman John Calloway, chairman of the board, said that the program gives the county a strong return on investment.

“Frankly, if I had it my way, I’d double it,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.