Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By KAITLIN SCHROEDER Morning Sentinel
Fear of paying more for Medicare led to Livermore Falls residents narrowly voting down a measure to redistrict to neighboring Franklin County, a town official said Wednesday.
Livermore Falls residents previously indicated they would pass the measure by approving it in two unofficial town votes, but since then the Town Office learned that different Medicare options are offered in different counties, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said.
Flagg said some seniors learned from insurance providers that they could be paying hundreds more under the options offered in Franklin County.
She said a plan under which seniors pay no premium in Androscoggin County comes with a $54 monthly premium fee in Franklin County.
“I think that had a huge bearing on a lot of seniors and people who are on Medicare,” she said. “For a senior who is on Medicare, a couple hundred more dollars a year is a big burden.”
Residents rejected the town’s move to Franklin County from Androscoggin County by six votes Tuesday night, voting 263-257 not to pursue the switch.
Franklin County Commissioner Fred Hardy, who testified before the Legislature in favor of the bill, said county officials were open to the possibility of taking in the town.
“We were willing to look into the situation, but if they don’t want to do it, that’s as far as we go,” he said.
Livermore Falls, which borders Franklin County, is about 15 miles closer to Farmington, the Franklin County seat, than it is to the Androscoggin County seat, Auburn.
Livermore Falls would give $250,000 in taxes to Franklin County, said Rep Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, who sponsored the bill that allowed the counties to vote on the possible switch. He said the town has more ties to the northern neighboring county.
The Police Department would save by making court appearances at the Franklin County Courthouse and sending inmates to the Franklin County Jail, Knight said.
Livermore Falls was cleared in September by Androscoggin County commissioners to hold the vote, despite concerns from Leeds officials, after the board determined that the town did not have any outstanding debt to the county.
This is the second time the town has tried to switch counties, the first being in 2005, when then-Rep. Janet Mills sponsored a bill to allow the switch. It was defeated.
Flagg said she expects Tuesday’s vote to be the end of the effort to redistrict.
“Unless someone wants a recount, I’m assuming it failed and that will probably be the end of it,” she said.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252