FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners halted review and approval of a $7 million budget Thursday after they voted to reduce a proposed 3% raise to 2% across the board for nonunion employees.

The county Budget Advisory Committee approved the budget Wednesday night and sent it to commissioners.

The change affects 20 people and not only their salaries but amounts in the budget for FICA, Medicare, Maine State Retirement and workers’ compensation, Finance Director Vickie Braley said.

Commissioner Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton made the motion to go with a 2% increase after he and Commissioner Lance Harvell of Farmington approved several department budgets. The motion nearly failed for lack of a second but Harvell made the decision after a lengthy debate with other elected department heads.

Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong was absent for medical reasons.

Brann discussed giving bonuses from the $5.8 million the county anticipates receiving from the American Rescue Act. The guidelines are vague, Braley said, but  she believed the raises could only be given to first responders, jail employees and patrol deputies. Not all elected or nonunion employees would receive the raise.

“This is kind of a slap in the face, especially for nonunion employees,” Susan Black, register of deeds, said.

Fen Fowler of Farmington suggested it would in the best interest of employees to get the 3% to help with morale and if they could, give bonuses later.

Brann who wanted to get the budget lower for taxpayers, said the reduction of 1% would be about $80,000 less in the budget.

The overall budget reflects an increase of about $215,987 over the current budget, which expires June 30.

Braley said she didn’t believe it would affect the tax assessment.

Heidi Jordan, register of probate, said the nonunion employees could use the extra 1%. She does not stand to gain an increase in her salary.

Commissioners were asked why they put 3% in the budget for raises.

In the past, just because there is a certain percentage for a raise it did not mean that county employees would receive a higher percentage.

Brann said he wanted to give a 2% raise from the beginning but Harvell had asked county Clerk Julie Magoon about the difference between 2% and 3% raises. Harvell said Magoon said if the 3% was in the budget it could be lowered but if it wasn’t in there, commissioners would not be able to give a higher amount. He said he was looking to see what the options were.

If the 1% is not given it would lapse into the undesignated fund on June 30, 2022, Brann said. He and former Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington received calls from several people last year upset that there was money in the budget for a 3% increase and but only a part was used. The Budget Advisory Committee had included a 3% cost-of-living raise in the 2020-21 budget but commissioners gave a 2% increase to nonunion workers and 1% to elected officials.

Commissioners will meet at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the county courthouse to make a decision on the budget. It will then go back to the Budget Advisory Committee. It would take six out of nine committee members to override the commissioners’ changes.


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