Franklin County Sheriff Scott Nichols has proposed adding a deputy position in the county’s unorganized territory (UT) that would add $100,000 to the UT budget in the first year, including the deputy’s salary, benefits and cruiser, with that cost decreasing to roughly $69,000 annually until the cruiser needs to be replaced. According to Nichols’ proposal, the position is needed to reduce response times and “create a more visible police presence.”
“An increased presence in these areas would reduce property crime, which sometimes goes unreported by the home owner because it occurred at a camp,” Nichols wrote in his proposal.
A public hearing on the proposal in the Franklin County Budget 2017-2018 is set for Monday, Dec. 12, at 6 p.m. at the Eustis Community Center, 86 Main Street. According to local press coverage County Commissioner Gary McGrane opposes the proposal, Clyde Barker supports it and Charlie Webster is undecided. (Sheriff proposes unorganized territory deputy; Franklin County sheriff proposes deputy to patrol unorganized territory.)
The MFPC Landowner Committee will be discussing the sheriff’s proposal at its meeting Dec. 8. “It seems like this would set a precedent, so we should be involved from the start,” said Peter Triandafillou, who chairs the committee.
There are less than 1,000 UT residents in Franklin County, (including about 200 added when Madrid deorganized in 2000, and they are spread out through about 20 township, according to Marcia McInnis, UT fiscal administrator.
The increased cost would be paid by UT taxpayers, but some are concerned that the proposed deputy would be taking calls in organized towns such as Eustis, Phillips and Avon. Nichols proposal, which only contained statistics for the past year, reported 282 calls for service, ranging from animal complaints to motor vehicle accidents.
The county has 1,700 square miles, including the towns of Avon, Carrabassett Valley, Carthage, Chesterville, Eustis, Farmington, Industry, Jay, Kingfield, New Sharon, New Vineyard, Phillips, Rangeley, Salem, Strong, Temple, Weld, and Wilton; plantations of Coplin, Rangeley, and Sandy River, according to the Franklin County website.
In 2010, Franklin County was Maine’s second smallest county by population at 2.3 percent of the state’s total, with a census count of 30,768, a 4.4 percent increase over 2000. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2015 estimate showed a slight population decline to 29,991.
According to the county website, the UT includes:
- 9.3 million acres of land, including 7.5 million acres in the Tree Growth program and 1.2 million acres that are exempt from property tax, such as State and Federal land.
- There are 421 townships with a full-time resident population of 7,902 people. In addition, the 2010 census estimated that there are 11,068 seasonal structures that house approximately 26,895 non-residents
- There are approximately 378 miles of summer roads and 569 miles of winter roads in the UT.