FARMINGTON — The Franklin County Budget Advisory Committee is scheduled to review information submitted by outside agencies — social, educational and economic development services — at 6 p.m. Wednesday at the county courthouse.

Fenwick “Fen” Fowler of Farmington, a retired executive director of Western Maine Community Action in Wilton, presented information to the Budget Advisory Committee on May 4. The estimated cost for adding back seven nonprofits is about $210,000, according to Fowler’s information.

Commissioners began reducing money for program grants to the nonprofits in 2016-17 until it eliminated funding altogether in subsequent years.

It also didn’t give $58,000 to a few agencies as was indicated in the 2018-19 and 2019-20 budgets. Only Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong was in favor of funding the nonprofits. Commission Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton and then-Commissioner Charles Webster of Farmington opposed the funding.

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.”

Fowler who lost his election bid for commissioner to Brann in November 2020, talked to the budget committee earlier this month about a Franklin County Community and Economic Development Consortium that has been meeting for the past four years on a regular basis “to share resources and strategies as to how to best serve the county,” according to Fowler’s information.

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“We have developed a concept proposal focused on one area, helping seniors to age in place in Franklin County and to be as independent as possible,” Fowler said.

The seven organizations Fowler listed are SeniorsPlus, Western Maine Community Action, Androscoggin Home Health and Hospice, Franklin County Children’s Task Force, Greater Franklin Development Council, Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Service and Franklin County Adult Education.

The organizations are collaborating with each other and other organizations.

Webster, a former commissioner who did not seek reelection in 2020, said in May 2018 that the majority of the three commissioners feel it is not appropriate for the county property taxpayers to have to pay higher taxes when many of these programs are already funded by the state and federal government,” according to the Morning Sentinel.

The two commissioners also cited the lower value of the paper mill in Jay, several chief executive officers and administrators of the organizations making more than the average Franklin County resident, and the condition of the economy, as reasons to not continue funding.

Jay was once the highest valued town in the county. It is now the fourth highest, behind Carrabassett Valley, Rangeley and Farmington.

The majority of the budget panel voted May 4 to hear more details from the agencies Wednesday.

The committee will also take its initial vote on a proposed overall $7.24 million county budget and is expected to set a public hearing date.


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