FARMINGTON — Selectmen voted 4-1 Tuesday, Jan. 11, to require masks be worn while in all municipal buildings and locations.

Selectmen Stephan Bunker, Michael Fogg, Scott Landry and Matthew Smith supported the motion while Selectman Joshua Bell was opposed.

Franklin County was one of five counties in the country with the highest rate of new infections, Town Manager Christian Waller said.

“Every department has been impacted in one way or another,” he said. “For public safety, work place safety, continuity of operations it would be prudent to have at least a mask mandate while on town property.”

A mask is fairly straightforward for protecting self, fellow citizens, Waller noted.

Bell asked if it was currently left up to department heads.


“Yes,” Waller said. “We’ve been advocating to wear masks at all times. This will make it one step stronger.” He noted there had been no appreciable concern or frustration from employees.

In other business, the board approved an engineering design study to determine the cost for roof renovations at the Community Center to improve air quality issues inside. It was part of ongoing discussions on how to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Waller expected the cost to be $10,000 to $20,000.

In July, then-Town Manager Richard Davis said the town would receive $819,740 in ARPA funds — half this year and the remainder next year. Franklin County was expected to receive about $5 million in ARPA funds, he said at the time.

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

In November, Tri-County Mental Health asked Selectmen for $50,000 from those funds to help with cash flow issues created by the coronavirus pandemic.


In December, broadband was noted as a possible use of ARPA funds.

During the latest discussion, Selectmen favored using some of the funds for premium pay for employees who worked during the pandemic. Putting aside $50,000 for that was suggested. Waller will put together different models to use as starting points.

“There are as many questions as there are answers on how to apportion that out,” Bunker said. Amount of time worked, full time versus part time, and level of risk were some of the factors to consider, he said.

Farmington has 36 full time and about 70 part time or seasonal employees, Waller said.

“Everybody does a lot, none of them are overpaid,” Landry said.

Other potential uses Bunker noted were the homeless shelter, domestic violence, and broadband. The ability for organizations to sustain themselves beyond ARPA payments was something to consider, he said.

Air quality issues at the Municipal Building — for which a study on the needs has been done, storm water and culvert needs, the condition of the town’s water lines, and sewer department needs were among other uses suggested.

Citizen input on uses is challenging now because of COVID-19, Waller said. Holding an online meeting or putting out a survey were possibilities, he said.

ARPA fund uses should be tailored towards the town’s specific community needs, Waller said.

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