Franklin Countys First News

Farmington selectmen send letter to commissioners regarding nonprofit funding

[Update Feb. 13] - The meeting between the Town of Farmington and County Commissioners has been rescheduled to March 17.


FARMINGTON - The Board of Selectmen approved sending a letter to the county commissioners, and will be attending next week's meeting, to question the withholding of previously-approved funding for several nonprofit organizations.

A total of $40,001 is being withheld by the commissioners from Western Maine Transportation Services, Western Maine Community Action and Seniors Plus; those funds were approved through the county budget process last year.

WMTS was approved for $10,000 by the budget committee after commissioners failed to unanimously amend the committee's budget. Commissioner Terry Brann of Wilton and Commissioner Charlie Webster of Farmington were in favor of not funding the organization, having previously indicated they intended to remove most outside agency funding from the budget within a three-year period. The commissioners argued against the efficiency and/or effectiveness of those organizations and that all of the towns should make their own funding decisions. Commissioner Clyde Barker of Strong was opposed to removing the funding, citing the importance and popularity of WMTS in his district, which encompasses the northern part of the county.

Commissioners have not released funds to either WMTS or Western Maine Community Action - which was appropriated $30,000 by the committee - in this fiscal year. Funds raised and not appropriated by the end of the fiscal year lapse to the county's undesignated fund. Among other uses, the fund can be used to reduce the tax assessment impact of county budgets.

Seniors Plus had been funded $1 by the budget committee as a placeholder to remain on the list of potentially funded organizations.

"In this case, there's a difference between a philosophy of not wanting to fund and when a budget is approved and agencies are relying on that money," Town Manager Richard Davis said.

The board agreed with Davis and unanimously approved a letter to be sent on their behalf stating their collective opinion. Board members also plan to attend the public meeting on Feb. 18 at the court house to express their concern.

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22 Responses »

  1. Additional information for your readers. Several years ago, when the County was faced with a $200,000 loss in revenue the County Budget was cut and prioritized. Working with the Franklin County Budget Committee ( Selectmen from throughout the County) the Commissioners adjusted County spending and worked diligently to avoid raising property taxes, to avoid a $200,000 property tax increase . During those discussions we decided to phase out or cut back several of the “program grants”. Many other cuts were made throughout the budget. The Commissioners wrote those effected groups reminding them that funding would be lowered over the next three years and eliminated after those three years ended . We have now reached that point. Many of the agencies have either found funding elsewhere, trimmed their budgets, or requested funding from the municipalities. During those budget discussions the Budget Committee and Commissioners requested salary scales and other information that we felt was important. Surprising facts were provided to us regarding the high wages paid to the various management teams at these non profit agencies. As a matter of fact Western Maine Transportation even refused to give us their salary information, essentially telling us “ it’s none of your business.” Western Maine Community Action pays their upper management very well, and frankly doesn’t need Franklin County property tax dollars. FYI, their recently retired Executive Director Fen Fowler made over 108,000 . I’m not against people making in excess of $100,000, I’m just not willing to raise property taxes on retirees and working people to pay for it. Hopefully this information is helpful to your readers.

  2. Thank you Charels Webster. I find it disturbing that many of these organizations come to municipalities for hand outs instead of fundraising and Grant's and then the municipalities are stuck trying to apply for Grant's to fix their failing infrastructures. Use tax dollars the way they are intended to be used and keep up with our infrastructures and stop handing money out to every organization that comes asking.

  3. Charle... First let me say..I am not against Non Profits and the good and great things they do... However, there is a good reason that some of them are 'Non Profits'...

  4. Imagine a world where no business had to pay taxes or all payroll was reimbursement for avoiding payroll taxes or health insurance or vacation time for employees. I for one would love to keep all my money and not give any to the state or federal government or local town government. However.. what kind of services are we going to receive from the police, fire department, EMS public works... If it's a business and there is profit from earning money or having someone give there money to you it's still income.! Pay the tax as the rest of us business owners have to. We can't continue to carry all the tax burden for the non tax businesses

  5. Charlie, no matter what your personal opinion and reasons for it are, you have to obey the law like everyone else. Please do your duty and release those funds immediately.

  6. Now if this attitude would stretch down into Augusta and Washington we might get this country turned around.

  7. Remind me again. What are we paying for county commissioners these days?

  8. It's silly how 'non profits' are viewed as somehow morally superior to a company that runs 'for profit'. Profit allows an organization to replace equipment, expand, and so on. Favoring a non-profit is simply hot air.

    All 'non profit' means is that the thing isn't self-sufficient, and that is ALL. Thanks to the commissioners for trying to took out for the taxpayer...the records for use of public funds should be open TO THE PUBLIC!

  9. Wow 108,000. Salary!! Sounds to me like they are no longer non profit. Looking like their profit goes to salaries so they can keep non profit status. Interesting. Thank you Charlie


  11. Nonprofit equal Dark money. Politicians love nonprofits...

    Nuff Said...

  12. Not exactly a conservative rag...

    "Since 2010, these elected officials — including Republicans like embattled Missouri Governor Eric Greitens and progressives like campaign finance warrior Bernie Sanders — have altogether raised as much as $150 million for nonprofits that they are able to control and use to promote their respective agendas."

    Nuff Said...

  13. ¿Does The Clinton Flopnations still reside in your brain cells?

    Here ya go again, not exactly a conservation rag, (just in case you start to pucker up):

    "WASHINGTON — For years, the progressive wing of the Democratic Party has railed against anonymous campaign contributions from billionaires and corporations. Despite the rhetoric, as 2020 nears, Democrats may be on track to beat the Republicans at the "dark money" game for the second national election in a row — and Republicans are nervous." NBC news

    Nuff Said...

  14. If you divide commissioner money pay by commissioner hours worked I'd bet it's waaay over minimum wage...

  15. Non profits, the term, were designed to preclude tax liability so that more of their efforts could go to supporting their endeavors. It all sounds good until you dig down on the organizational business structure. The command structure of these players has highly compensated individuals. The theory being, that they need executive talent to keep the machine running. Suggested reading is the the business history of the Red Cross and the United Way. They did good things, however the executive staff was getting the long dollar for running a “volunteer organization”. Private jets, fancy hotels and limos don’t exactly fit the profile that they like to present to the donating public. The average sidewalk Santa might be a drunk or a drug addict getting very little, but his boss isn’t. The subsequent exposure of these outrageous wage and benefit packages didn’t exactly help their cause. Perhaps, the reluctance or outright refusal to any wage and associated financial transparency, is a fear of reduced contributions. Non profits generally have to game the system in some regard to remain functional. Joe public tax paying nice guy, or government entities, might not make out the check they are counting on if the truth were known. The liberal politicians whining on the cable networks are masters at this scam. Do you really trust a guy or gal pandering to the working man and “college ?” student, that makes millions, has no real job, lives in a mansion and flies around in a private jet? Think a little and follow the money.

  16. Charlie,
    thanks for enlightening all of us for the reason for the cuts. Good job!!

  17. I agree with Charlie. So much waste if they need more money then they need to raise it themselves. Stop picking on
    The county. Also if town selectman think it’s so great then why don’t the town pitch in?

  18. "The Commissioners wrote those effected groups reminding them that funding would be lowered over the next three years and eliminated after those three years ended. We have now reached that point."

    Why is this suddenly an issue?

  19. Isn’t it high time we stop funding anything for anybody with our taxes. If we can simply stop all social programs and assistance and rely only on ourselves...think of the money we will save. No more food stamps, no more SNAP and no more tax deductions (yup, these are social benefits too). There are so many more...and let’s not stop with individual benefits that are doled from our collective taxes...what about corporate deals.
    If anyone here is to be honest, this wealth distribution paradigm is and has been an integral part of our social fabric for a very long time. The argument seems to be about HOW MUCH and to who.

  20. Charlie, thank you for heroically blocking funds needed by our community senior citizens--raising their own money and running their own resource center should be a walk in the park compared to winning WWII.

  21. Just how much is Charlie saving each of us? If the question is money, then why has Charlie not told us how much it would save/cost for this funding? There must be someone else that can help us all understand the economic cost/benefit of this program. How about it WMCA? This is a good forum for you to convince the taxpayers and the commissioners of the benefits you provide.Speak up please