FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday voted not to hold an annual Town Meeting this year and commit taxed based on last year’s budget.

The meeting was to be held March 30, but postponed indefinitely because of the governor’s Stay at Home Executive Order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

In January, selectmen approved a $6.5 million 2020 budget, up 6.24% over current spending. Most of the increase came from a 50.54% increase for the Farmington Fire Rescue Department to provide 24-hour, seven-day-a-week  coverage.

Last month, that Department cut $239,163 from its budget while keeping two full-time firefighter positions, beginning Aug. 1.

Additional changes made at the June 9 board meeting brought the 2020 budget to $770 less than the current spending plan.

Town Manager Richard Davis suggested not holding an annual Town Meeting, but wanted to bring the budget to the Budget Committee before making a decision.

Davis said he met with the committee June 17. Revisions to the 2020 budget were reviewed and the committee agreed with the recommendation to not hold an annual meeting.

“You have the ability to commit taxes based on last year’s budget,” Davis told the board. “Based on legal opinion from Maine Municipal Association, if there is no other pressing items, you can forego the Town Meeting altogether.

“We’ve already set the tax due date and the tax interest rates,” he said.

The Budget Committee discussed the possibility of holding a drive-in meeting and guidelines for holding an indoor one, Davis said.

“You can hold an indoor Town Meeting using several rooms in one facility,” he said. “There are about eight restrictions and eight public health considerations that must be met. They’d be extremely difficult to meet. Based on that, the Budget Committee voted unanimously not to hold Town Meeting this year.”

Selectman Michael Fogg asked if the Fire Department’s revised budget included the two new firefighters.

Davis said it did.

“One advantage to not holding a Town Meeting this year is we could commit taxes earlier and give people longer to pay,” Davis said.

In other business, Selectmen approved:

  • A $200,000 Community Development Block Grant for Franklin Printing to purchase software and equipment to improve efficiency.
  • Michael Macneil’s application for a marijuana outdoor grow facility.
  • The purchase and training of a drug detection K-9 for the Police Department, using funds seized during drug investigations.

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