FARMINGTON — The Board of Selectmen backed a $6.1 million municipal budget Thursday, a 5.5 percent increase over the current budget, that now will head to residents at Town Meeting for final approval.

The $6,110,386 budget includes 2.54 percent raises for non-union employees as well as a 25 percent increase in water and fire hydrant fees, which are set by the Farmington Water Department.

“These (department) budgets are very tight,” Town Manager Richard Davis said. “I understand there is an increase and I don’t like to see an increase any more than anyone else, but I am hoping we can do a little better on the revenue and valuation sides.”

Selectmen unanimously approved the final budget Thursday after taking votes on individual department budgets. Aside from a handful of questions, there was no discussion, and the meeting lasted about 20 minutes.

During a similar review Wednesday night by the Budget Committee, Davis said, discussion mostly focused on funding for outside agencies, which has been a point of contention since Franklin County commissioners moved in recent years to do away with funding for social services in the county budget.

“Much of the discussion last night focused on the fact the county should be funding these agencies,” Davis said. “There is a consortium that has been going out to towns in Franklin County, asking them to appropriate funds based on their portion of the county budget and urging communities to also encourage commissioners to resume the funding of these agencies that serve a countywide purpose.”

Selectmen approved a total of $17,998 in funding for the agencies for which the county has cut funding. They include the Franklin County Children’s Task Force, Franklin County Adult Basic Education, Western Maine Transportation Services, Western Maine Community Action, the Greater Franklin Development Council and others.

Davis said it is still too soon to know how the budget will affect the tax rate, as that is dependent on revenue and valuation as well as the budgets of the county and the local school district.

The Franklin County Detention Center currently is facing a $323,000 funding gap in its $2.1 million budget for 2019, an issue Sheriff Scott Nichols has said could have a dangerous effect on the county budget without help from the state.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Josh Bell said despite some increases, he is confident in the municipal budget.

“The only thing I would say is I was looking through the budget the other night, trying to find somewhere to save; and really, nobody is asking for anything crazy,” he said.

Town Meeting is scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. March 25 at the Farmington Community Center.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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