FARMINGTON — The Farmington Board of Selectmen approved a proposed $6.5 million budget for 2020, up 6.24% from current spending.

The proposed budget is up $381,811 from 2019, but $1,885 or 0.03% less than department heads had originally requested. The $1,885 was removed from the treasurer/town clerk department, which is still in line for a $25,729 increase.

Board Chairman Joshua Bell said most of that increase is due to this year’s elections.

Most department requests were quickly approved, with most discussion focused on the Fire Department, which is seeking additional staffing to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week coverage that would increase its budget by 50.54%.

Acting Chief Tim Hardy of the Farmington Fire Rescue Department provided details on the number of evening calls and what the staffing would be if approved as requested at the last meeting. In 2017, there were 102 calls for service between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. In 2018, there were 125 calls, and in 2019 there were 109 calls.

“The requests for calls from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. equates to about 25% of our calls,” he said.

Bell said, “There are a fair amount of evening calls.”

Hardy said there are now two full-time firefighters working daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., plus a per diem worker.

“Since the incident in September, we’re trying to staff two per diems during the night time shifts, as they are available,” Hardy said.

The change would see a per diem added to the day shifts on weekdays and two full-time firefighters covering the night shifts.

Full-time or career firefighters would have fixed schedules with benefits and work 12- or 24-hour rotating shifts, according to budget information. Per diems are current Farmington Fire Rescue members covering selected shifts who receive hourly pay, no benefits and supplement “call” firefighters.

Volunteer or call firefighters are department members who are on call, carry pagers, respond from home or work, if available, and receive hourly pay for calls, training and meetings. They respond to higher priority calls to support full-time staff.

Bunker said there would be less dependency on per diems at night.

“I’m glad we asked,” Selectman Michael Fogg said. “This (information) makes it very clear, easier to explain to the public. The town is better protected this way.”

Bell asked if the change would affect insurance ratings for the public.

Hardy said changes were made a few years ago due to a culmination of things.

Selectman Scott Landry said the biggest determining factor is the flow rate on the hydrants.

“We’re Protection Class 5 now,” he said. “We would have to make quite an investment to drop it down.”

Bell said the public could decide whether they want 24-hour coverage or not.

The budget is scheduled to go before voters for final approval March 30 at the town meeting.


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