FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday, July 27, discussed possible uses for American Rescue Plan Act funds that will be coming to the town.

There are a lot of moving parts to this, Town Manager Richard Davis said. He spoke of a meeting held with other municipal officials and county commissioners earlier that day as the county will also be getting funds to use throughout the county.

Half of the town’s $819,740 allocation should arrive in August, Davis said. A report must be submitted in October saying the money was received and providing plans for its use, he noted.

“We need to obligate the money by 2024, spend it by 2026,” Davis said. “The state is still working on the rules. There’s a public input process we need to follow, need a town meeting vote to spend the funds.”

On Wednesday Davis said the second half of the money would arrive a year after the initial payment with the deadlines remaining the same.

The rules may change, Davis told the board. A Maine Municipal Association survey showed roads and bridges to be the No. 1 priority among the municipalities responding.

“We could certainly use $819,000 on roads,” Davis said.

The federal government is vague on what the money can be used for, Selectman Michael Fogg said. “If they freed it up for roads and bridges, we know what to do with it.”

Davis referenced two areas that funds can be used for by municipalities. The first is infrastructure adaptation improvements that support public safety and emergency management and infrastructure resiliency. The other is wastewater and infrastructure projects.

Engineers have developed estimates, Davis said. Eleven construction projects for the town’s wastewater system would cost $503,000. Paving at the treatment plant would be $71,000, he noted while communications equipment and upgrades for the sewer system would be another $17,000.

“We could easily use all of this for wastewater improvements,” Davis said.

“Our wastewater treatment plant is always in need of work,” Fogg said. “It can use it, that’s money well spent.”

Another approved use of ARPA funds is air quality, Selectman Scott Landry said. “You don’t have to spend it all in one spot. That might be a way to help with the problem at the community center.”

There are also ventilation issues at the municipal building, Davis noted.

A security camera system that would cover the entire town is estimated at $175,000, he said. No firm answer on whether that is an eligible use of funds has been received, he added.

“I don’t think it’s a good use of the funds,” Davis said. “It has a whole bunch of bells and whistles I don’t think we need.” He noted much lower estimates had been received for other cameras — both at the town garage and the municipal building where $4,000 was budgeted for cameras this year.

The proposed system allows for contact tracing if an employee gets COVID-19, Deputy Chief Shane Cote said. It can identify busy spots in buildings, help with crowd management, he added.

If the system was in place when a juvenile was missing a while ago, knowing where they had been might have been possible, Cote noted. Another police agency was able to solve a murder using the system, he said.

The system can also help with locating people or vehicles of interest, he said.

“It’s all about safety and security,” Cote said. The system at the police department was used; that one and the one at the municipal building are old, were donated by Walmart, he noted.

Cameras would be installed at the municipal building, public works, the community center, recycling, police department and Hippach Field. None would be installed at the wastewater treatment plant.

The cameras recognize faces, only those put in, Cote said. Video would be stored for 30 days, he noted.

There’s a fine line between safety and people’s personal freedom, Selectman Joshua Bell said. People aren’t getting mugged at the municipal building, he noted.

“I don’t think we need to invest $170,000 to watch people all day long,” Bell said.

Franklin County is expected to receive about $5 million in ARPA funds, Davis said.

“I’m not crazy about connecting the jail to Farmington’s sewer system,” he noted.

The board needs to look at what the money coming to the town can be spent on, generate a list of projects, then put it out so the public can understand it, Fogg said.

“There’s no rush on this,” Davis said.

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