Budget Committee sends approved $7.1 million budget back to commissioners

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The Franklin County Budget Committee voted to approve a $7.1 million budget on Wednesday night.

FARMINGTON – A $7.1 million budget for county operations was approved by the Franklin County Budget Committee at Wednesday night’s meeting.

That budget will now go back to County Commissioners for review and a vote. Potential changes would have to be passed unanimously by the three commissioners; vetoing those changes would require the support of two-thirds of the budget committee.

The budget represents an increase from the current fiscal year of $333,385. For the total budget, $2.3 million is earmarked for the Franklin County Jail and $4.77 million will make up the portion for government affairs.

Line items resulted in little discussion, with the majority of conversation focused on program grants. Committee member Morgan Dunham moved to add an additional $58,001 to the $23,700 designated for Franklin County Soil and Water Conservation and Franklin County Firemen’s Association. That number represents money that commissioners have not paid to Western Maine Community Action, Western Maine Transportation Services and SeniorsPlus. The money was agreed upon during budget discussions in 2018-19 and 2019-20, but commissioners did not release the funds.

Dunham said the $58,001 should be considered an ‘unpaid bill’ by commissioners.

The motion passed, 5-4, with Bob Luce of Carrabassett Valley, Matt Smith of Farmington, Gary McGrane of Jay, Morgan Dunham of Phillips and Tiffany Maiuri of Wilton in favor of the addition while Travis Pond of New Sharon, Tom Goding of Jay, Ray Gaudette of Phillips and Tiffany Estabrook of Chesterville were opposed.

Following that discussion, Bob Luce of Carrabassett Valley raised the question of whether or not the committee should also weigh in on how county revenue is spent. Maiuri said that for as long as she has been involved they have never voted on where revenue should go. Another meeting will be held to discuss the issue.

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