FARMINGTON — Voters responded to the needs of the Public Works Department and Farmington Public Library during Monday’s town meeting by raising more funds than requested.

Of the over 110 residents attending, most agreed to raise $250,000 more to purchase a new truck for the Public Works Department. The request for $1.33 million was raised to $1.58 million.

Jim Kiernan, Public Works foreman and an employee for 32 years, told voters the crew needed the proper equipment to do the job. Most of the vehicles range from 15 to 20 years old and are breaking down, he said.

With 10 trucks and the same number of employees as the department had 30 years ago, the extra work of road-building and long hours clearing winter roads with equipment breakdowns stretches the crew, he said.

In his first year as director of Public Works, Phil Hutchins spoke of major equipment problems that led him and town officials to seek only half the amount for a truck from voters and spread the cost over two years. But, Hutchins was not sure how to do the work needed with the equipment the department has.

Hutchins compared Farmington to nearby Skowhegan which has a similar population and number of miles of roads. While Farmington has 10 trucks, Skowhegan has 22 and the average age of most is four, he said.

Selectman Joshua Bell felt the comparison was unfair because Skowhegan has a paper mill, which means more tax revenue.

Bell said Selectmen wanted to work with Hutchins and come back next year with a plan.

A motion to raise the amount requested for Farmington Public Library from $187,094 to $196,029 garnered support from a majority of voters. 

Unexpected costs for health insurance premiums was a reason for the request, one resident said.

Selectmen recommended raising $157,723 for the library and the Budget Committee recommended $165,945.

Last year, $149,500 was raised for the library. The town appropriation and endowment interest provide the major portion of operating costs.

Interest from the endowments has been flat the last few years, Richard Morton, treasurer, said. Funds are needed to keep from cutting hours or staff to serve the growing number of people who use the library.

“We are getting at the heart of a democratic society — an educated population,” John Sytsma said. 

Not everyone can afford to send their children to college but can afford to send their kids to the library, he said. “We can’t afford to let our libraries decrease in any way.”

[email protected]

Farmington Town Meeting

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: