FARMINGTON — Voters at Town Meeting passed a resolution asking Franklin County commissioners to restore funding for economic development and social service agencies.

They approved raising $18,000 for organizations affected by 2017 county budget cuts.

Also on Monday, voters elected two incumbents and a new school board member.

Selectman Stephan Bunker said agencies once requested funding from the towns. Funding recently became part of the county budget.

Farmington resident and County Commissioner Charles Webster said most agencies are funded by federal or state programs.

“Is it more important to increase property taxes or ask agencies to go to the state, which has several resources?” Webster asked. “Many people can’t afford higher taxes. It’s not appropriate to continue funding when other sources are available.”

Resident Erika Schumacher said, “Funds spent now will save future tax dollars. It’s short-term to consider this year only.”

Another resident said rubber-stamp support is given for police, fire and public works, but every penny is looked at when considering social service agencies.

“If we funded social services to the level they deserve, we wouldn’t need as many police services,” she said.

Resident Betty Jespersen said, “This article gives our community a chance to say how we feel. No one asked us before. It was done by committee.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Joshua Bell, who sits on the county Budget Committee, said funding these agencies was a philosophical debate.

“It should be on a personal level, not forcing taxpayers to pay,” he said.

Franklin County Children’s Task Force Executive Director Renee Whitney said each agency is equally valuable and serves different populations.

“In 40 years, the task force has grown from an annual budget of $22,000 to more than $1 million. We employ 43 people who pay taxes, have kids.” She added that $857 (Farmington’s share of county funding lost in 2017) provides clothing, diapers and cribs for families that are struggling.

“I’m tired of hearing about people struggling,” Whitney said. “All of us struggle. It’s not about those who have versus those who have not. It’s about people.”

Bill Berry, who moved to Farmington in 1970, said it’s a cultural problem to separate towns from services.

“I’m president of a foundation that sees many requests. In every application there is a question asking, ‘What is your local support?’ If our town eliminates contributions, when applying for grants, it will affect these services negatively,” Berry said.

Selectman Mathew Smith, unopposed, received 473 votes. Regional School Unit 9 school board member Iris Silverstein was re-elected over challenger Nancy Porter by a vote of 445-103. Heather A. Huish, unopposed, received 502 votes for the school board seat vacated by Ryan Morgan.

In other business, voters approved the proposed budget of $5.63 million, which is $90,806 less than last year’s.

Resident Elaine Graham attempted to amend amounts for several departments, with 1 percent raises for town employees rather than the 2 percent recommended.

“Most of this audience is retirees,” Graham said. “We can’t continue to increase taxes. I want to see department heads work harder to write grants, be innovative, get more funds from state and federal (sources).”

In each case, the amendment failed.

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