WILTON — The Wilton Select Board during its Tuesday, Sept. 6, meeting discussed concerns around how the Franklin County Commissioners divvy up the county budget and allocate services to its towns, unorganized territories and plantations.

Town Manager Perry Ellsworth raised the concerns, explaining he is soon meeting with Franklin County town managers and Franklin County Administrator Amy Bernard to discuss the budget.

Ellsworth told the board currently Wilton, Farmington, Carrabassett Valley, Jay and Rangeley pay 55% of the county budget. Meanwhile, the unorganized territories account for 6% of the budget which is funded by the state.

But, he said, Wilton is not always seeing the services the town is funding.

Ellsworth referenced the Franklin County Sheriff’s Department, which will only come to Wilton for emergency calls, despite open shifts, he said Wilton Police Chief Heidi Wilcox was told.

“It’s time the county stepped up to the plate because we provide all of the services, all of the services [for unorganized territories],” Ellsworth said. “I fought this battle a little bit before when I was in Rangeley [as town manager] and I’m ready to fight it again.”


Ellsworth told the board Wilton needs to “be really careful, as we look at next year’s budget, what we ask for.”

“We need to not just ask but we need to demand,” Ellsworth said. “Why aren’t we getting some of that coverage? I think the battle’s worth it.”

Selectperson Tiffany Maiuri also brought up the discrepancies in valuations of the unorganized territories versus the municipalities.

What a town owes to the county budget is based on its valuation.

Maiuri referenced the Kibby Wind Power Project in Kibby Township, from which revenue goes to a Tax Increment Financing fund that is subsequently not counted in the valuation.

“We’re all not going to survive in any of our towns, whether we’re Wilton or Strong or Phillips, or one of these other small towns, unless we starting banding together and using the opportunity to share some services or do some things for us here,” Ellsworth said.


Selectperson Mike Wells asked about how this issue can be addressed through the county budget committee, which Maiuri and Selectperson Keith Swett are members of.

“Is that where it can be addressed, this disparity of what we pay and what we receive for services from the county,” Wells asked.

The budget committee is not in charge of where or how funds are allocated, Maiuri responded.

The selectpersons hinted at local towns and the budget committee having little control over county commissioners’ decisions.

Swett referenced recent issues with the county commissioners no longer funding local organizations.

In 2021, two of three county commissioners voted to not allocate “$58,001 raised in two previous budgets to pay three nonprofit organizations,” according to the Sun Journal.


“As towns, we sent letters to them, Farmington, Wilton, others saying we want you to support these [organizations] and continue to pay them and they said ‘no, we refuse to,'” Swett said.

Swett added that “a few years ago, the budget passed the committee and the commissioners said no, we’re not going to do that, we’re going to do what we want to do.”

The current county commissioners are Terry Brann for District 1, Lance Harvell for District 2 and Bob Carlton for District 3.

Wells asked if the budget committee can raise the issue and take action to “change the rate.”

Maiuri said they can’t because there’s no charter in Franklin County. A charter “outline[s] what the process is for certain items.”

Franklin County is the only county in Maine without a charter, she said, adding it’s also the only county of 16 that is not a member of the Maine County Commissioners Association.


When Wells asked who sets the allocations, Ellsworth and Maiuri said it’s still up to the commissioners.

“[The Franklin County Commissioners] make their own recommendation [on the budget] after listening to the department heads,” Ellsworth said. “There’s no charter that says they have to follow anything.”

Maiuri said that there needs to be “change” to the “formula for how they tax each municipality.”

“Going from their current formula, how they’re doing it to a formula that’s more equitable,” she said.

“‘It’s frustrating’ is a good way to say it,” Swett said.

Ultimately, Ellsworth said “we’re all paying our fair share.”


In an interview, Ellsworth said he wants to find a solution to “how can we diversify the county budget to be fairer.”

“Can the county commissioners again start funding and dividing equally amongst everyone,” he questioned in the interview. “[Having these conversations] may not change anything. But I think we need to at least be having discussions about it.”

He told the board that town managers are meeting with Bernard to discuss these issues soon.

“I’m passionate about this,” he said.

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