FARMINGDALE — Residents Friday have a chance to vote in a new selectman, as well as change the way the town chooses a road commissioner.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Rickey McKenna is facing James Grant, who has campaigned on the assertion that the selectmen are wasting money and favoring one contractor.

Voters will also decide whether to change the road commissioner position into a three-year elected term from a one-year appointment and choose a Regional School Unit 2 board member at the election being held from noon to 7 p.m. Friday at the Hall-Dale Middle School gym. In the school board election, Linda Leet is running unopposed.

Residents will then decide on the $1,190,941 municipal budget at the Town Meeting at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Hall-Dale Middle School theater.

McKenna said the effect of the municipal budget, up around $125,000 from the current budget, won’t be known until the town finishes its revaluation this summer.

The RSU 2 budget passed earlier this month is expected to increase taxes in Farmingdale by $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed value, meaning a $140 increase for a property assessed at $100,000.

McKenna said the new revaluation should lessen the tax hike caused by the school budget, but it likely won’t prevent an increase of some amount.

Grant, McKenna’s opponent, has been distributing a six-page packet to residents questioning money paid to Ellis Construction for road projects and winter road salt.

Grant, 44, said he decided to run because he didn’t want someone to run unopposed. But he intensified his campaign after some residents pointed out to him what was being paid to Ellis Construction.

He said he doesn’t think the bidding process is fair to all contractors.

Grant is the town’s animal control officer, one of the town’s constables and a Hallowell reserve police officer.

McKenna, 48, said the only thing he agrees with Grant on is that a candidate shouldn’t run unopposed. He said he doesn’t think negative campaigning should be done in any level of politics.

The conflict escalated two weeks ago when Grant accused a person from McKenna’s camp of taping a forged letter with Grant’s signature on mailboxes around town apologizing for the “half-truths” in Grant’s campaign materials.

McKenna and Chris Ellis of Ellis Construction both denied writing the letter.

McKenna said he expects the most controversial item at Saturday’s Town Meeting to be the selectmen’s proposal to spend up to $85,000, plus survey and closing costs, for a 3.67-acre parcel with a sand and salt containment area and covered salt storage structure.

The purchase would be paid for by the town’s capital improvement fund and wouldn’t increase taxes, McKenna said.

The land is owned by Bruce Ellis, Chris Ellis’ father, and Ellis Construction uses it for storing the salt and sand the company uses for the town, McKenna said.

Farmingdale doesn’t have storage for salt and sand, so contractors store it on their own.

McKenna said buying the land and shed will make the bidding more competitive because contractors won’t have to build thier own.

The winter plowing contract is up this year. Buying the storage facility will allow the town to continue storing its salt and sand there if Ellis Construction isn’t awarded the contract again, McKenna said.

Grant said the proposal to buy the property shows that the selectmen give special treatment to Ellis Construction.

Grant also cited as evidence of favoritism the fact that Ellis Construction was paid almost $178,000 more than the next construction company, E.C. Barry & Son, during the last fiscal year.

Ellis Construction’s sum is significantly higher than other contractors, however, because it was paid $177,913 for the winter plowing contract.

The selectmen don’t support changing the road commissioner position to an elected one.

McKenna said the selectmen changed it to an appointment in 2009 from an elected position when no one took out papers to run for the one-year term.

He said another advantage of an appointment is the selectmen can appoint someone from another town to serve as commissioner.

“If you didn’t have anybody run for a one-year position, chances are you aren’t going to have anyone run for a three-year position,” McKenna said.

Selectman David Sirois has been acting road commissioner since William Rogers resigned last month.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663
[email protected]

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