FARMINGTON – Selectmen Tuesday voted unanimously to accept the Sewer Department’s 2006 budget proposal, which calls for the first rate increase since 1992.

The Sewer Department’s rates have been lower than most for years and will remain lower than rates in many nearby towns, Superintendent Steve Moore said. He cited a 2003 sewer rate survey putting the new average yearly charge of $396.80 over that of Jay, at $175, but under rates in towns like Norridgewock and Manchester, both $400, and Livermore Falls, Augusta, Old Town, Winthrop, and Madawaska.

The new rates will go from having a minimum charge of $27.30 per quarter for residential users to a minimum charge of $31, and will charge homeowners an additional $6.20 for every 100 cubic feet.

Selectmen and some members of the six-person audience congratulated Moore for keeping rates the same for more than 12 years, and acknowledged the increases are warranted, considering rising operating costs for electricity and fuel prices.

A Community Development Block Grant Citizens Advisory Committee was appointed Tuesday to oversee proposed rehab work on Church Street and surrounding alleys. The group consists of town officials, members of the Chamber of Commerce, and people who either own or rent property in the area affected by the proposed $150,000 project.

Fire Chief Terry Bell asked selectmen to consider hiring his niece, Danielle Bell, for a temporary position as a secretary for the Fire Department with the ASPIRE program. Wright and other selectmen worried the hiring might go against town anti-nepotism policy. But selectmen finally voted, four-to-one (with Wright voting against), to allow Danielle Bell to work as a volunteer with the town under Town Manager Richard Davis’ supervision, not Chief Bell’s.

Selectmen Tuesday voted to award a bid for a new police cruiser to Quirk Ford for $16,623, including trade-in. The vehicle will be a 2006 Ford Crown Victoria.

Another car – a forfeiture-acquired 1997 Mazda 626 DX – also found a home Tuesday after selectmen voted unanimously to accept a bid of $1001.00 for the vehicle.