FARMINGTON — The proposed sewer budget for 2022 was not approved by selectmen Tuesday because the vote was 2-2.

Selectmen Scott Landry and Matthew Smith supported it; Joshua Bell and Byron Staples opposed it. Selectman Stephan Bunker was absent, resulting in the tie vote.

The 2022 budget proposed by Town Manager Christian Waller is almost $1.18 million, an 11.78% increase over the current plan. The proposed budget includes $130,115 more for personnel services, an almost 35.4% increase over the current budget.

The figure for personnel retirement, part of the amount allotted for personnel services, seems high, Selectman Byron Staples said.

The figure this year was $40,000. Last year’s was $20,706.

“If somebody comes on board, we have to offer it, have to make sure the money is there just like for insurance,” sewer administrative clerk Mavis Gensel replied.


Farmington employees pay a lot more toward insurance than any place around here, she added. People with families are paying $900 per month, she noted.

“That is why you are losing employees,” Gensel said.

Franklin County is the third poorest county in Maine, Bell noted.

The proposed increase for employee compensation was “the elephant in the room” for Bell. He supported spreading the increase over a few years. He noted those on Social Security and in the private sector don’t get cost-of-living adjustments that those employed by schools, municipalities and the state do. Bell also felt it was awkward discussing pay with employees present.

Millett, Gensel, Sewer Department Operator III Joseph Hartigan, all employees of the Sewer Department, were at the meeting. Meetings are also livestreamed over Facebook.

Having the employees there was not awkward for Smith. “Every number on this page is somebody,” he said.


“Things are different, we are doing more,” Gensel added.

“I want to stay here, retire here,” Hartigan said. “We need to be compensated. It’s not a frivolous jump, it is just compensation.

“Every year our responsibility grows so where’s the justification for (not compensating for that)?” he asked. He added that the page and a half job description can be summed up in one sentence: “You need to be able to do everything.” He cited examples, including mechanical tasks, construction, working with chemicals and working with the public.

“We have saved this town hundreds of thousands of dollars working with contractors, stopping them from overcharging the town,” Hartigan added.

“(The Sewer Department) is not the same,” Hartigan said. “Any other department, you don’t need the skill set needed (for sewer). You can’t compare.”

The town meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, May 9, in the Mt. Blue High School gymnasium. The selectmen will meet Tuesday, May 10.


“We need the budget approved to set the rate,” Waller said. The Maine Municipal Association states that, he noted.

At the last meeting, selectmen tabled approval of the town’s sewer budget and sewer rates to give new Selectman Staples time to review the figures. Staples had wanted to delay a decision until after the May 9 town meeting when budgets for other departments will be voted on.

At the last meeting Millett said the proposed budget would not cause rates to change.

The rate approved in 2020 and 2021 was $39.90 per 500 cubic feet, with an additional $7.98 per 100 cubic feet thereafter.

That is about one penny per gallon for every cubic foot, sewer administrative clerk Mavis Gensel said Tuesday.

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