FARMINGTON — Selectmen Tuesday night, Jan. 25, approved an $8.5 million budget for 2022 that will be put to voters at the annual Town Meeting March 28.

The approved budget is $1.65 million or 23.65% more than this year’s budget of $6.5 million. It is about $650,000 less than the budget reviewed at last week’s meeting. Selectmen made some changes Tuesday to the latest Committees/Events and Community Center department figures.

Part of the budget increase comes from the board’s decision in December to approve a 7.3% cost of living adjustment for town employees. That increase was projected to cost the town just over $177,000.

The board had also asked Town Manager Christian Waller to make recommendations to bring some town employees closer in line with wages and benefits employees from similarly sized Maine towns receive. Some retirement lines were also increased as several staff are at the age they could retire, Waller said last week. He wanted to retain them for two or more years so their experience wasn’t lost.

Because Farmington’s pay scale wasn’t changed much for many years, it is now behind for some employees, Selectman Stephan Bunker said. “Making the leap all in one year is concerning to me,” he said.

“Do an across the board pay increase of two or three or five percent opposed to going person to person,” Selectman Joshua Bell suggested. Most people who work for the town are underpaid, he said.


Bunker admitted the percentile approach was easier but noted some employees are more lacking than others.

“Farmington is in a unique position, able to set ourselves up well for a large number of years,” Bell said. He urged the board to “tread lightly on spending more than the revenue coming in” or it could be gone in a few years.

This year is the first time Farmington will receive taxes from the solar farm on routes 2 and 27, the Farmington Falls Road. A payment of $1.37 million is expected this year, according to information provided by Waller. In the first 20 years of the farm’s operation the average annual tax would be $708,902. The average annual tax for 30 years is $520,826 with annual payments of $144,674 during the last 10 years.

That money could be potentially used to fix more roads, Bell said. “Taxpayers are adamant that is the number one issue. People complain about the roads.”

He wanted to set the town up well for the future, manage the influx of revenue well.

Some catch up is being done in a balanced, conservative approach, Waller said. It’s an investment in the town, he noted.


“The thing we picked were the increases to our employees,” Selectman Matthew Smith said. “They’ve been pared down. I’m of the opinion we can support the pay increases put forth, it’s what we asked for.”

Seven new positions were included in the first budget, Waller said. This one has a dedicated office manager for public works, a program staff person for parks and recreation, one full time person at the community center (currently half time) and two per-diem becoming full-time firefighters, he noted. The latter will provide improved continuity of coverage and save $12,500 per year, he added.

The first budget provided the best options, this is the better version — midstream as far as pay increases, Smith said.

“We’ve asked (Waller) to take care of these positions, he’s done well,” Selectman Scott Landry said. “We’ve got to take care of our people.”

Selectman Michael Fogg supported the work Waller has done.

Votes taken on department budgets that included pay increases found Selectmen Bunker, Fogg, Landry and Smith in support with Bell in opposition. Bunker abstained from voting on the Fire Rescue Department budget as he is a member of that department.


The Fire Rescue Department reserve account for a new fire truck had been reduced $50,000. A grant has been applied for and if that isn’t received, the truck will be bonded, Waller said.

On Tuesday, Selectmen voted to decrease special projects under Committees/Events by $1,000. Building repairs for the Community Center were reduced by $36,000 as the engineering study for roof repairs had already been approved using American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

The Farmington Public Library budget of $228,000 — rounded up from its request of $227,853 — was approved 3-2. Fogg and Bell were opposed.

Selectmen approved the same amounts as appropriated last year for other outside agencies, 3-2. Fogg and Bell were opposed. Bunker suggested ARPA funds be considered for them after Waller said they could be eligible.

Bell thought money for Greater Franklin Development Council could be taken from Tax Increment Financing funds since it is for economic development. He also noted the outside agencies could be taken out before the warrant is approved if ARPA funds are used.

This is a new process for all of us, Smith said while thanking everyone for their efforts on the budget.

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