FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen met with department heads Tuesday to initially review their 2017 budget requests, which are $232,920 more than last year’s budget.

The Budget Committee and the Board of Selectmen are expected to make their recommendations later this month. The budget is now $5.65 million, a 4.3 percent increase. 

Board members expressed concerns about a $60,490 increase requested by Farmington Public Library. The library seeks $209,990.

As an essential part of the town, the library has seen an increase in use, partly because of the economy, library director Maurie Stockford said. Her staff is stretched and it is very difficult to meet people’s needs, she said.

In past years, the library’s endowment has covered deficits but the market returns are not enough for the library to continue doing that, she said.

The library will contribute $67,912 from a combination of endowment funds, employee contributions, circulation income, donations and fundraising, Stockford said. 

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The minimum-wage increase and increases for salaried employees, health insurance and costs for a part-time person going to full time and an eight-tenths of a position were given as reasons for budgeting $189,990 for personnel expenses.

The town has traditionally appropriated money for personnel costs, Town Manager Richard Davis said.

As a town service, the library needs to be supported at a level that allows it to function and that has not been happening, Stockford said. 

While some selectmen expressed approval of the library and the work done, they questioned the amount of taxes going to a non-town department or something the town does not run.

“You are asking for more than some of our own departments,” Selectman Matthew Smith said.

With so much support for the library, Chairman Joshua Bell questioned why only $1,500 was budgeted for fundraising. He thought a couple fundraisers could help offset the budget need.

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Stockford showed that Rumford, which has 6,432 residents, gave its public library $226,388 last year. She compared its financial support to Farmington’s, which ash a population of 7,456.

Farmington Fire and Rescue is requesting $516,057, a $81,565 increase because of personnel costs and an equipment reserve account.

Full-time firefighters hired part way through 2016 will work 52 weeks, compared to 39 weeks last year. The budget request also includes a townwide 0.6 percent wage increase, Chief Terry Bell said.

The reserve account request of $75,000 is for large purchases such as new air packs and bottles for an estimated $130,000. A grant application has been filed, he said, and if it’s approved part of the $116,000 reserve fund will be used for a match.

The Police Department seeks a budget of $1.23 million, an increase of $21,864 over last year. Most of the increase is for health insurance and overtime costs.

The Public Works Department asks for $1.33 million, an increase of $81,000.

The department seeks $108,000 for reserve funds to purchase a new truck in two years.

A $37,000 increase for the five-year road plan is recommended by Director Philip Hutchins to cover potential increases in the cost of liquid asphalt.

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