FARMINGTON — The initial proposed $5.4 million town budget reviewed by selectmen Tuesday is 2 percent greater than last year’s.

In the coming weeks, the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee will meet to make recommendations and vote on a final budget that will be put to a vote March 28 at the Town Meeting in March.

On Tuesday night, the Board of Selectmen made their initial review of the $5,444,874 million budget for fiscal year 2016. The 2015 budget is $5,338,884.

Town Manager Richard Davis said the 2 percent increase is “fairly low for recent years.”

At Tuesday’s meeting, the only change the selectmen made to the proposed budget was adding $1,500 to the account for traffic light maintenance for a total of $10,000 — a $4,000 increase from last year’s budget.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with our traffic signals recently,” Davis said.

Other increases from last year’s budget amounts include $51,238 for the Fire and Rescue Department to add four full-time firefighters to the department’s roster, $31,000 in municipal operations to pave the Town Office’s front parking lot, a one-time cost of $15,000 to digitize the town assessing records and a $13,000 increase in electricity costs for the town’s streetlights.

According to his budget proposal, Fire Chief Terry Bell plans to use the additional $51,238 in the Fire Department’s proposed $452,513 budget request to hire four full-time firefighters who would work 12-hour daytime shifts on an alternating basis seven days a week. The staff would be supplemented by per diem/paid call firefighters who would respond to incidents.

Bell is proposing funding for new full-time positions because the department is experiencing a shortage of per diem firefighters.

“With these changes, we feel the best way to meet the needs of our community is to staff with a combination of full-time and per-diem/paid call firefighters,” Bell wrote in his budget proposal.

The department is staffed now with three per-diem firefighters working eight-hour shifts Monday through Friday and two per-diem firefighters on the weekends.

“I feel the department needs to move in this direction to ensure our citizens continue to get quality responses to their calls for service,” Bell wrote.

The proposed reorganization of the Fire and Rescue Department is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting.

Selectmen are expected to vote Jan. 26 on their final recommendations on the entire budget. The Budget Committee will meet Wednesday and again Jan. 20 to review the proposed budget further.

After the Jan. 26 selectmen’s meeting, Davis plans to put together a Town Meeting warrant that will include the finalized budget.

Lauren Abbate — 861-9252

[email protected]

Twitter: @Lauren_M_Abbate


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