Monday, December 9, 2013
Livermore Falls residents will vote in November whether to leave Androscoggin County and become part of Franklin County.
Rep. L. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, introduces a bill to allow Livermore Falls to join Franklin County during a hearing on March 13. The choice to move the town from Androscoggin County to Franklin County is up to voters in November,
Staff file photo by Joe Phelan
If the vote passes, residents of both counties will have to vote on the measure in June, Livermore Falls Town Manager Krystal Flagg said.
Livermore Falls was recently cleared to hold the vote Nov. 5 by Androscoggin County officials. Randall Greenwood, chairman of the Androscoggin County commissioners, said they determined that the town did not have any outstanding debt for county projects or services that it would have to pay the county before it left.
Greenwood said that the only money matter county officials were not sure of was the effect the potential switch would have on the county jail.
Under the unified jail system, each county has a capped rate it is expected to raise for the jail through taxes and a set amount it is supposed to receive from the state in quarterly payments. The law that created the new jail system set the rates by taking into account county populations and taxes in 2008.
Greenwood said commissioners will be able to find out how the jail funding will adapt to the change if they get approval to make the switch.
"If they would switch, would we be losing funding in Androscoggin? We won't really know that until we have a final decision," he said.
In June, the Legislature approved a bill allowing residents to vote on whether the town would be allowed to switch counties.
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 of Auburn.
Bill-sponsor Rep. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, said this difference is costly to the entire town, but particularly to the police department, which would save time and money by making court appearances at the Franklin County Courthouse and sending inmates to the Franklin County jail.
He also said the town would provide $250,000 in taxes to Franklin County and has stronger ties to its northern neighbor because of connections with jobs, ambulance and disaster-response teams, health care, social services and education, and cultural and economic development programs.
The town of Leeds submitted a letter to the Legislature, urging it to not pass the bill. Officials said in the letter that without Livermore Falls as part of the county's tax base, the taxes of other towns in Androscoggin County would go up.
Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252