January 9, 2013

Livermore Falls to consider switching counties

A similar effort died on Legislature's doorstep in 2005

By Kaitlin Schroeder kschroeder@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

LIVERMORE FALLS — A state representative is leading an effort to make the town part of Franklin County, but a Franklin County comissioner said he is opposed to the idea.

State Rep. L. Gary Knight, R-Livermore Falls, said Tuesday that the town manager and selectmen unanimously supported the proposal to leave Androscoggin County, which will save the town and residents money.

Knight is sponsoring a bill to research the economic impact of the proposal. Livermore Falls borders Franklin County and is about 15 miles closer to Farmington, the county seat, than it is to the Androscoggin County seat of Auburn.

Franklin County commissioners Chairman Clyde Barker said he is against the move because it would increase the county's costs.

Barker said he would have to see research proving otherwise to change his mind.

"I don't think it's feasible for Franklin County to take over Livermore Falls. There is going to have to be a lot of investigation going on to explain why this would be a benefit," he said.

Knight said he thinks it will be an economic advantage to Franklin County because the county would get taxes from Livermore Falls, which has a population of about 3,500, according to the town's website.

"We would be giving them another quarter-million dollars to play with," Knight said.

He said Livermore Falls would save money because the Franklin County Jail and court system are closer than those in Auburn.

Livermore Falls Selectman James Collins said he supports the proposal because Franklin County is so close.

"Logistically the move makes sense," he said.

But he added he and the other selectmen will need to see what the research about the redistricting concludes, including how the move will financially affect Androscoggin County.

Knight said there was also an effort in 2004 to move to Franklin County that didn't pass the Legislature in 2005. He said he thinks the effort will have better luck this time.

"I'm optimistic that this is good legislation," he said.

Knight said the bill will be filed Wednesday and has eight cosponsors, including state senators Tom Saviello, R-Wilton, representing many communities in Franklin County in Senate District 18, and Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon, representing Livermore Falls and others in Senate District 17.

Knight said he has not spoken yet with either of the town's county commissioners because he did not expect the bill to move ahead so quickly.

If Livermore Falls ends up joining Franklin County, the process will take more than a year, Knight said.

He said the bill will be considered by the Joint Standing Committee on State and Local Government, and if approved would need to be passed by the House and then Senate.

If the bill passes and the research proved it would be an economic advantage to join Franklin County, the proposal would then go to voters in Livermore Falls and in Franklin County, he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder-- 861-9252

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