FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen on Tuesday night approved a 2.54 percent pay increase for town employees, which will go into effect after the town meeting in March.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the increase will keep the town in line with the consumer price index, and does not apply to unionized employees, whose wages are negotiated through collective bargaining.

Both the Police Department and the Public Works Department are unionized.

The pay increases were among a slate of items discussed by the board, including an update to the town’s tobacco policy, funding requests from social service agencies and the New England Clean Energy Connect project, a proposed 145-mile transmission line that would run through Farmington and elsewhere in Franklin County.

Selectmen approved changes to the tobacco policy to expand the definition of what is not allowed on town property. In addition to smoking cigarettes, the use of e-cigarettes, vaping and other methods of smoking tobacco are prohibited, as is the consumption or smoking of marijuana.

Davis said there have not been major problems involving smoking on town property, but there have been instances recently of people vaping at sporting events at Hippach Field.

“They’ve been told ‘no,’ but we didn’t really have the authority spelled out,” he said. “This new policy is more specific in terms of the things that are prohibited.”

The board also discussed funding requests from nonmunicipal and social services agencies, which have been topics of debate since Franklin County moved over the past few years to scale back funding.

Earlier this year, selectmen considered whether to create a new policy around requests to fund outside groups. Selectmen moved Tuesday night to continue with the town’s current practice of not accepting new requests from outside agencies.

As was the case at the 2018 town meeting, Davis said voters will have the option next year to continue funding groups that have received money from the town in the past, and will be given the option to pass a resolution urging the county to continue funding nonprofits and social services.

Selectmen also received an update Tuesday on the New England Clean Energy Connect project.

John Carroll, spokesman for Central Maine Power, shared materials showing the project has received a transmission services agreement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and is awaiting permits from the Army Corps of Engineers and U.S. Department of Environmental Protection.

At the state level, CMP anticipates decisions on permitting from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection and Land Use Planning Commission in the second half of 2019.

The Maine Public Utilities Commission, which held its last public hearing on the project last week, is expected to enter into deliberations in December.

Construction would likely begin in late 2019 or early 2020, and be finished by the end of 2022.

 


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