FARMINGTON — Voters approved a $5.8 million municipal budget at Monday night’s Town Meeting, following outpourings of support for the town’s Public Works Department and library.

The approved budget of $5,891,882 exceeded the spending recommended by the Budget Committee and Board of Selectmen by more than $280,000. The town must wait for school budget negotiations to conclude next month before calculating its final tax rate.

Residents rallied in support of the Public Works Department following sobering but impassioned pleas from the department’s foreman, Jim Kiernan, and its new director, Philip Hutchins. The foreman and the director described as nearly impossible their challenges plowing roads, parking lots and sidewalks during back-to-back winter storms with decades-old equipment prone to breakdown.

After Kiernan’s and Hutchin’s speeches, one Farmington resident proposed boosting the department’s budget by $250,000 for the purchase of a new truck, which voters approved by a resounding margin.

Residents also voted to increase the Farmington Public Library budget to $196,029 — nearly $9,000 more than the library had requested. The additional money will go toward an unexpected spike in health insurance costs, said library board Chairwoman Barbara Marshall.

Library Director Maurie Stockford said she is not yet sure what the new library budget will mean for operating hours. The library already has cut its hours from 40.5 to 36 hours a week in anticipation of budget cuts. Stockford said she will be discussing the issue at the library’s April 11 annual association meeting and board meeting.

With this budget, Stockford said she will be able to remain at the library on a full-time basis and restore hours for some part-time staff members, although the library will still need to cut at least two part-time staff positions. Stockford, speaking from her home on Tuesday, expressed gratitude to the town for its support.

“The weather really hampered turnout, but the people who were there were library people, so that was great to see,” Stockford said. “I’m pleased that people were supportive. What we got was a huge increase, which for the town is significant, I think.”

In addition to the public works and library budgets, voters approved $1,244,941 for the Police Department, which accounts for a 1 percent pay increase for union members and a 0.6 percent pay increase for the department’s management; and $516,057 for the Fire Department. The Fire Department budget represents a nearly 19 percent increase over last year, reflecting the department’s move to full-time staff and a 0.6 percent pay increase.

Voters also agreed to the Budget Committee and selectmen’s recommendation of $706,130 for general administration, including $248,202 for administration and $245,274 for the treasurer and town clerk.

Kate McCormick — 861-9218

[email protected]

Twitter: @KateRMcCormick

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