FARMINGTON — Selectmen decided to raise the town’s tax rate slightly after debating how to offset the higher costs of providing services this year.

They voted 3-1 this week to raise the tax rate to $16.02 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, up from $15.95 per $1,000 of valuation last year, according to Town Manager Richard Davis.

The owner of a $100,000 house will pay $1,602 in town taxes this year, up $7 from last year.

Selectman Jessica A. Berry voted against the motion because it required taking money from the town’s undesignated fund to offset the tax burden, she said.

“Like anybody I don’t like to see taxes go up, but I understand we have some hard decisions to make,” she said Thursday.

To reach the tax rate adopted during the meeting Tuesday, selectmen voted to take $26,000 from the undesignated fund, which is taxpayers’ money in the town budget that is set aside for emergencies, according to Davis.

Keeping the tax rate level this year would have required taking $54,000 from the account, according to Davis.

Berry wanted to raise taxes slightly higher than other selectmen to keep money in the emergency fund, she said.

“I wanted to keep that (money) in the reserve account, you never know what’s going to be needed in an emergency,” she said.

After spending the funds to offset taxes, as well as spending another $80,000 to purchase an information system for the police department this year, the town’s undesignated fund will be about $100,000 below the amount recommended by auditors, according to Davis.

Auditors reviewing the town’s budget believe Farmington should maintain the account at $1.6 million, which is enough to support the entire town government for two months of emergency expenditures, Davis said.

Residents at the annual town meeting voted to buy the new technology for the town’s police department.

At that meeting, they approved the town’s $4.45 million budget for this year, which is about a 1 percent increase from last year.

Selectman Dennis C. Pike called the decision to raise taxes this year a compromise among the board members.

Selectmen were divided on how much to take from the undesignated fund, with some wanting to take the entire $54,000 from the account to offset taxes, he said.

“We talked it over and said how about we go halfway between,” he said, referring to the agreement on $26,000.

Davis said increases in the town’s cost this year for heating oil, fuel and insurance resulted in the need to raise taxes.

Stephan M. Bunker, Ryan D. Morgan the two other selectmen who voted in favor of the tax rate adopted this week, did not immediately return messages left Thursday. Selectman Andrew M. Hufnagel was absent from the meeting.

David Robinson – 861-9287

[email protected]

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