FARMINGTON — Two of the three Franklin County commissioners refused Tuesday to sign a warrant that would pay a combined $163,400 budgeted for seven social service, educational and economic development organizations this fiscal year.

Chairman Terry Brann of Wilton and Lance Harvell of Farmington opposed signing the warrants.

Commissioners stopped funding outside agencies in 2018-19 and 2019-20 after notifying them by letters. They offset the amount raised by taxation by using more from the undesignated fund.

There is a possibility the programs will be paid through the county’s allotment from the federal American Rescue Plan Act.

In June, a majority of the nine Budget Advisory Committee members agreed to include the money in the $7.7 million budget.

At the time, interim Commissioner Bob Carlton of Freeman Township favored giving the agencies grant funds while Harvell and Brann opposed.


A coalition made up of organization members approached the committee after the budget had gone through commissioners’ review during the spring, asking for money to help keep older adults in their homes and active in their communities.

Before the vote Tuesday, Brann said he was dismayed the committee did not ask for more information from agencies, including salaries. He previously said some chief executives and other upper-level management made more than the average Franklin County resident.

Fen Fowler of Farmington had provided to the committee information on the organizations, including what the money would be used for. It included some salaries of employees.

Brann reiterated that the organizations’ representatives have proven the past two years that they don’t need county dollars because they’ve continued to operate.

Carlton said commissioners followed the budget process and did not have a unanimous vote to override the committee’s budget.

That left commissioners with the option to not sign the warrant to pay out the money.


The county is taxing residents but are not giving to the nonprofit organizations, Carlton said. “It is a huge disservice to the taxpayers.” He said residents of Farmington, Jay and Wilton are provided the most services.

The funds will stay in the county’s coffers.

Brann said the money will go back to taxpayers next year when the tax assessment is offset with undesignated funds. “I think it is being fiscally responsible,” he said

Carlton noted that auditor Ron Smith said earlier this month that there is $2.2 million in the undesignated fund balance, which could go as low as $1.3 million to $1.5 million and still give the county a good cushion.

Harvell said he wants to meet with some stakeholders of the nonprofit organizations. He said he would be willing to pay out the $163,400 from the county’s American Rescue Plan Act allotment for one year and go from there.

The county anticipates receiving $5.86 million from the federal government.


Fowler read the state law covering Franklin County’s budget process. It says the Budget Advisory Committee shall adopt a final budget and give it to commissioners. Commissioners may not increase, decrease, alter or revise the budget, except by a unanimous vote. If there is a unanimous vote to change the budget, it goes back to the committee, which would need a two-thirds majority vote to override commissioners’ decision.

“You are really altering” the budget by not paying the bills, Fowler said.

Committee Chairwoman Tiffany Maiuri, a Wilton selectperson, said during the committee’s budget talks that commissioners have the final say on disbursing funds.

County Administrator Amy Bernard confirmed Tuesday that “commissioners have the power of the purse.” It is clear from state law, she said.

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