Media Archive

Development group seeks county funds

Article from The Piscataquis Observer, Vol. 164, No. 40, October 02, 2002

By Jessica Lee
Staff Writer

DOVER-FOXCROFT The Piscataquis County Economic Development Council is requesting the county almost double its contribution to promote economic growth in 2003.

The economic development group is asking that the county's annual $40,000 contribution increase to $75,000to balance a decrease in state funding.

On Tuesday, Tom Lizotte, a past president of PCEDC and director of marketing and development at Mayo Regional Hospital, explained the need for the additional funding to the county commissioners.

He pointed to the council's achievements over the past four years, including the recent location of Creative Apparal Inc. in Dover-Foxcroft, the location of JSI Store Fixtures to Milo, and the grant proposal for $1.2 million to fund the Penquis Higher Education Center in Dover-Foxcroft. He said in the past four years the group has hauled in more than $3 million in grant funding for various projects that benefit the entire county.

"We've looked closely at this and we don't apologize one bit," Lizotte said, regarding the increased funding request before the commissioners. "We've shown what we've accomplished... I believe you're getting full value on your returns."

Lizotte explained that the organization has counted on funding from three sources in the past: the county, the private sector and the state. As of this year, state funding "has fallen off completely," he said, leaving the group about $30,000 short.

He said the county's contribution offers a stable foundation, but added that $40,000 does not cover wages and benefits for the organization's one full-time employee. Executive Director Mark Scarano.

"A $35,000 increase is hard to stomach with today's conditions," County Commissioner Ruel Cross said. "I'm a little on the conservative side... and this is almost against my principle, unless I see the benefits."

Cross applauded the group's successes, which he said amounted to more in the past four years than the county has seen in two decades.

Sophie Wilson, town manager in Brownville, asked the commissioners to support the expenditure, as it bene fits the entire county. "Economic development is key to moving forward," she said.

Wilson said something must be done to address the out-migration of residents, which has amounted to the loss of 3,000 people in the past decade.

"Mark does an outstanding job," Wilson said. "As a town manager, it's easy to get bogged down with the day-to-day nitty gritty. If we lose the council, the job [of economic development] would be left to the towns... and we'd flounder."

County Commissioner Chairman Eben DeWitt said that the county is in the process of "getting the numbers together" on the fiscal 2003 budget. He said the request would be taken up before the budget committee in mid-October and later addressed at a public hearing in November.

He added that he was impressedwith the achievements of the group to date and the vocal support for the funding increase.

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