FARMINGTON — A public hearing on the proposed fiscal year 2016 Franklin County budget Wednesday in the Franklin County Superior Courtroom left a couple of county agencies explaining their budgets to the Budget Committee.

The total on the 2016 budget is $5,781,243 — $129,994 more than last year, representing increases across the board from wages to facilities and insurance. Last year’s budget was $5.65 million.

Sheriff Scott Nichols said he could take in stride the cut from $10,000 to $5,000 for part-time deputies. He said he even could see his motor vehicle line item being cut from $90,000 to $60,000.

The problem Nichols saw in the proposed budget was the cut in his public safety budget from $33,000 to $20,000, saying it’s “not a slush fund.”

Nichols mentioned an opportunity he had to buy a system that would help prevent domestic violence. The device, worn much like a medical alert device, could alert law enforcement to a dangerous situation immediately.

“I had the opportunity to get it on a grant, but I had to pay for it up front,” Nichols said. He didn’t hesitate to make the purchase, but he warned that those initial funds had to come from the public safety fund.

Other incidentals Nichols mentioned included an unexpected bill he received from the state of Maine for $5,225 attached to a new fingerprinting system it installed. “That’s why this account exists — all the unknowns,” Nichols said.

Nichols didn’t ask for the whole amount to be reinstated, but he did ask for another $5,000 for public safety.

The Franklin County Regional Communications Center is asking for $73,200 to start work on a proposed $488,000 upgrade to the county’s emergency dispatch center. The $73,200 was proposed as a supplemental budget to an overall $833,280 budget request by the dispatch center.

Director of Communications Stan Wheeler explained that money had to be spent for both consultation and engineering of the system that will improve communications across the rugged Franklin County terrain, which often causes poor reception in northern towns such as Kingfield and Strong.

“We’re trying to build a stable and secure infrastructure,” Wheeler said, adding that the center is in the first stage of a highly complicated project that will require work all around the county.

He said hiring a consultant for $5,000 for the year is needed on top of having to engineer the system, adding, “The fact is we don’t have anyone in Franklin County with the expertise.”

Wheeler said he already secured a $62,000 grant toward the project.

A selectman from Strong, Mike Pond, asked Wheeler to work on the “marriage” between towns in the north and south of the county, saying the northern towns aren’t “disgruntled yet” concerning the county communications issues.

Another cut affected Community Action Program, which dropped from $40,000 to $33,000 in the budget.

Franklin County Commissioner Clyde Barker stood to address the shortfall, asking for a full restoration of the $40,000. The program works with food shelters, delivering groceries to the needy, mostly seniors, throughout the county.

They are also responsible for providing oil for those trying to stay warm in the winter — about 20,000 gallons this past winter.

The overall budget requests will be subject to votes by the county’s Budget Committee and the county commissioners. The Budget Committee is scheduled to vote on the proposed budget on Wednesday, June 24, followed by a commissioners’ vote on Tuesday, June 30.

Douglas McIntire — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @CD_McIntire


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