Media Archive

Planning begins for county to provide more services

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 165, No. 49, December 03, 2003

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT County government, in the not-so-distant future, may be providing more regional services.

Mark Scarano, executive director for the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council, urged the Piscataquis County Commissioners Tuesday morning to apply for a state matching grant to explore county-wide planning for regional services.

The Maine State Planning Office is administering the Community Planning and Investment Regional Challenge Grant, which Scarano said consists of a non-competitive application process.

"Looking at municipalities in Piscataquis County, many of them are going through a comprehensive planning process," said Scarano. "The county is really no different."

Scarano said that the county should be looking ahead five 10 and 20 years in order to plan for changes and identify areas that the county could provide services efficiently at a regional level.

"There's an old saying, 'If you fail to plan, you're planning to fail,'" said Scarano. "[The county] must plan ahead so you have assurances of success.

He said there is a potential for the county to, at a minimum, "help coordinate municipal services."

"We may find surprises," he added.

Before any plan was put into effect, Scarano pointed out, it would need to go before a public hearing.

"These grants are typically facilitative and focus-group heavy," he said.

Scarano urged the county to consider applying for a grant in 2004, which would require the setting aside of up to $15,000 in matching funds to spend only if the grant was approved.

County commissioners unanimously agreed that planning for the county's future is necessary, and might in the end benefit all taxpayers, however they were unsure how the $15,000 in funds would fit into the 2004 budget to be approved Dec. 30.

Commissioner Tom Lizotte noted that the state is focusing on promoting and awarding regional efforts. "It makes a lot of sense to do this," he said. "Every business is doing strategic planning, and we're really a $4.5 million business."

He wondered if the county could utilize $15,000 of its budgeted $100,000 contingency for the match.

Chairman Eben Dewitt said he believed the contingency could only be used for emergency purposes. The issue will be discussed further at the commissioners' Dec. 16 meeting.

NOTE - This article reflects the views of the author and not necessarily those of the TRC Alliance Team.