FARMINGTON — Articles passed at Monday's annual town meeting brought the total budget for 2013-14 to $4,922,465.
Residents voted 75-27 to raise $5,000 for Safe Voices, which requested that amount. Selectmen and the Budget Committee recommended no funding for the organization, which helps victims of domestic violence.
It’s a philosophical question, whether to give to an organization by choice rather than being made to through property taxes, Town Manager Richard Davis said.
People should have the choice to give to an organization, Selectman Ryan Morgan said. Every year it’s the choice of townfolks, it’s never a unanimous decision.
Statistics show a 26 percent increase in domestic violence arrests in Franklin County last year, Jane Morrison, Safe Voices executive director, said. “Sixty victims from Farmington had to flee terrible abuse ... right here among your people,” she said.
Safe Voices shelters people from abusive situations, aids them in court and provides education on healthy relationships in local schools. Ninety-three percent of funding goes directly to services and the rest to administration costs, Morrison said.
While most articles passed with no discussion, a couple of residents suggested changes.
Concerned with taxes, resident Nancy Porter moved to reduce the General Assistance fund and the Parks and Recreation Department budget.
The sum of $25,000 was budgeted for General Assistance, which is $10,000 more than last year.
Town Clerk Leanne Pinkham said the $26,732 spent last year was for 92 cases.
The money is part of the General Administration budget, which Porter moved to reduce from $733,005 to $719,000.
Voters approved $733,005.
Porter thought the Community Center should be leased more, as it used to be, and said money is wasted in some programs covered by the Parks and Recreation budget. She moved to cut the $275,697 budget request to $258,000.
Parks and Recreation Director Steve Shibles said he is open to try more rentals but they can displace other activities.
Other, more suitable venues than the 1941 Community Center are available to lease, Town Manager Davis said. The building is set up for certain events and the department has the responsibility to protect the investment in the gym floor.
A total of $4,800 was realized last year from rentals.
Voters agreed to raise the $275,697 requested.
The question of raising $14,816 for the town’s part in Sandy River Recycling brought discussion of single-sort recycling.
Selectman Andrew Hufnagel said he is researching the subject and has visited Wilton’s operation.
Resident Thomas Eastler questioned the need to “fix something that ain’t broke,” recounting the history of another new idea in the 1970s, changing from an old dump to a now defunct landfill.
Sandy River Recycling handles the recyclable waste of three counties with only four employees. They are also looking at this “brand new idea” of putting all recyclables together, he said.
“Single sort takes away our ability to recycle our own waste,” he said. "Support our facility."
Before the meeting adjourned, Stephan Bunker, chairman of the Board of Selectmen for several years, voiced his appreciation to the town. Bunker lost his bid for re-election.
Tributes to Bunker were given by moderator Paul Mills, Tom Eastler and others, Davis said.