FARMINGTON — Franklin County commissioners voted Tuesday to up the county’s contribution toward health insurance costs for nonunion employees in order to be competitive and attract candidates to fill vacant positions.

The county previously paid 55% of the cost for an employee and spouse, and an employee and family, and 75% for an employee and child.

Now, it will pay 85% for an employee and spouse, an employee and child, and an employee and family.

The change is not just to compete for candidates, especially for the Sheriff’s Office, but to support the needs of employees, county Administrator Amy Bernard said.

Candidates for positions headed by the Sheriff’s Office say they cannot afford to pay for family insurance through the county, Chief Deputy Steven Lowell said.

“It is not that we lost people, we can’t get anyone,” he said.


A comparison was done among law enforcement agencies in Wilton, Jay, Farmington, Oxford County, Androscoggin County and Kennebec County.

The county will continue to pay 100% of health insurance costs for a single nonunion employee. Employees would be responsible for vision and dental insurance, Bernard said.

The next step is to ask the unions to reopen contracts to take up the matter.

The cost to the county for the second half of the year beginning Jan. 1, 2024, is estimated at $20,000.

Commissioners also approved a longevity stipend of $1 an hour more for nonunion employees who have been with the county for 15 years or more. Fourteen of the county’s 26 nonunion employees have 15-plus years of service with the county. These employees receive the approved cost-of-living allowance annually without a step increase, Bernard said. The $1 an hour will be in addition to the cost-of-living allowance.

The cost of this addition for 2023-24 is $25,142, which has been included in the budget, she said.

In other business, commissioners approved spending $14,650 for a new firewall for the computer system from the county’s American Recovery Plan Act funds. The new computer-aided dispatch and record system will not work with the current software  system.

Commissioners appointed Tom DuBois of Salem Township to the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. Three candidates applied for the position. After interviews Tuesday, commissioners selected DuBois, an engineer retired from Main-Land Development Consultants in Livermore Falls where he worked for many years. He is the pastor of Western Mountains Baptist Church in New Portland.

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