FARMINGTON — Selectmen debated Tuesday night whether neglected roads and rising road maintenance costs will force a sharp increase in this year’s budget during an initial review of the proposed 2015 town budget.

The selectmen were presented with an initial $5.4 million budget, up 7.1 percent from last year. The proposed budget will be reviewed by the selectmen and budget committee before the two groups make a final recommendation, which will then be voted on by residents at the annual Town Meeting in March.

A proposed $215,000 increase in the Public Works Department budget is one reason for the hike in the budget to $1.23 million, 20 percent more than the prior year.

Increases in the public works department budget included a proposed $15,000 for sand and road salt and the hiring of two additional full-time employees for around $45,000 each, including pay and benefits.

Chairman Ryan Morgan said he doesn’t like to see the budget increase but understands the need.

“We need extra help. We need extra labor,” he said.

The selectmen also discussed at length whether they would be able to cut the $390,800 in paving requests, or whether a policy of deferred road maintenance had forced the town to fix the list of ailing roads.

The proposed paving schedule includes $74,000 for rebuilding Upper Bailey Hill to the New Sharon town line, $148,315 for a total rebuild of Porter Hill Road, $102,625 for a one inch overlay to protect the newly rebuilt Morrison Hill Road, and $65,860 to rehabilitate Temple Road from the Town Farm Road to the Maine Department of Transportation compact line.

The paving budget includes $14,676 less from the state than last year and $100,000 more from the town than the previous year.

“I hate it,” said Farmington Town Manager Richard Davis. “I wish we had kept up over the years.”

Selectman Josh Bell said while he understands the roads are falling apart, he also would like to see if some of the work could be deferred so the taxpayers are not hit all at once.

“I just can’t swallow another $100,000 this year,” he said.

Kaitlin Schroeder — 861-9252

[email protected]

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