Commissioners approve ARPA-funded projects

4 mins read

FARMINGTON – During the Jan. 4 Franklin County Commissioners meeting, the commissioners reviewed a number of proposals for American Rescue Plan Act funds. 

Franklin County has been allocated approximately $5.9 million in ARPA funds, which may be used for a variety of projects within the county. These may include ‘hazard pay’ for county employees, infrastructure, economic development, or other expenses that fall within the guidelines. To assist with the process of allocating and expending funds, the commissioners hired Sue Pratt to coordinate, evaluate, and research proposals. 

On Jan. 4, Pratt shared information on six proposals. The commissioners approved four and agreed to move forward with a fifth. The final proposal, to install a digital sign outside the county courthouse to allow more communication of information, had been discussed previously. Because the courthouse is a historic site and falls within Farmington’s Historic Downtown district, the use of a digital sign would not be permitted by the town, so that proposal was taken off the table.

The county had previously discussed the possibility of participating in an orthoimagery project with the State. This would provide images of the unorganized territories, or the full county if desired, that could be accessed by emergency services such as the sheriff’s department, Franklin County Emergency Management Agency, fire departments, and local municipalities. The project, in partnership with the Maine Library of Geographic Information, would have the county cover one third of the total cost. 

The cost to the county would be $20,254 for the unorganized territories and $20,128 for Franklin County, according to Pratt. The State would pay $40,496 for the UT and $40,244 for the county, for a total cost of $121,122. ARPA funds could be used to pay for the county’s share of the project, $40,382. The commissioners approved the proposal for the entire county, and authorized the chair to sign a notice of intent to participate in the cost-sharing program.

The sheriff’s department proposed an upgrade to the security system at the county jail. Sheriff Scott Nichols said that the system is an analog system that is outdated; due to budgetary restrictions, they have been unable to upgrade. ARPA funds could be used for the upgrade, which would cost $290,600. 

Pratt stated that this project would not be subject to a bid process because of the specialized nature of the project.

The commissioners approved the proposal. 

Another proposal from the sheriff’s department was for hybrid cars. This project would need to go to bid. Quotes were provided: five hybrid vehicles at $37,797 each, plus $9,280 each for communications equipment, for a total of up to $238,085. Sheriff Nichols reported that they have one hybrid cruiser on the road and they have seen equal or better performance as they see from their standard cruisers; there is also a cost savings in gas, as deputies fill up once per day rather than twice per day. The department requested five vehicles as they had gotten behind on their vehicle replacement schedule due to budget restrictions. Using the ARPA funds would help bring them back on track without increasing the local budget. The commissioners approved this proposal.

A server security upgrade had been performed, with the cost of purchasing the server split between the technology department and the Register of Deeds office. The request was made and approved to transfer $41,198.52 from ARPA funds to the Register of Deeds account.

The items approved expanded about 32 percent of the first round of ARPA funds and approximately 16 percent of the total allocation. 

Pratt stated there were more proposals in process that would be shared at a later date.

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