FARMINGDALE — Voters will decide on two Board of Selectmen positions and a decreasing municipal budget at their annual Town Meeting next week.

Town voting, where residents will elect two Select Board members, a Road Commissioner and a Regional School Unit 2 Board of Directors member, will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Tuesday, July 14, at Hall-Dale High School. The open Town Meeting will be at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 16, at the school.

Nancy Frost

Incumbent Nancy Frost, 66, will be challenged for her seat by newcomer Tyler Tripp. Frost said one of the biggest highlights from her six years on the Board of Selectmen is the construction of the new fire station, which allowed the town’s department to move from the cramped town office space they once occupied.

“The fire station was something that was so needed for so many years,” she said. “I’m very glad to have been to a part of that.”

Frost, the chairperson of the Board of Selectmen, said the next big issue for Farmingdale is bringing the town office into compliance with guidelines set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“We’re lucky that we haven’t had anybody sue for not being readily accessible,” she said. “That’s really super important.”

That issue makes an appearance on this year’s warrant. An article asks voters to allow the Board of Selectmen to use any funds remaining from the $1.7 million loan to finance the construction of the town’s new fire station for updates to the town office. According to the warrant, the remaining loan balance is $213,704.

Frost cited her experience working through budgets as a reason for residents to elect her again.

Tyler Tripp

Tripp, a 34-year-old full-time firefighter in Lewiston, said this was the first time he has run for elected office. He said he decided to run after keeping tabs on local government activity and after seeing no one else had taken out nomination papers to run against Frost.

“I thought that maybe I could get a little more involved and give a new perspective,” he said. “Getting my hands a little more dirty or a little more involved in it will give myself and other people another perspective.”

Tripp said he didn’t have a “big, huge complaint” with how the Board of Selectman has done business lately. But, he was compelled to get a better handle on how the town does business for the benefit of himself as a taxpayer, and for others. Tripp added that some members of the community don’t feel involved with local government.

The 2004 Hall-Dale High School graduate said residents should vote for him because he is a “firm believer in communications” and he will bring perspectives from others in the community to the table.

“Everybody in the community should have a say and be able to ask the questions,” Tripp said.

Two former selectmen, Jim Grant and Doug Ebert, will duel for a seat left vacant by Andy Vellani, who resigned in June due to medical reasons.

Grant previously served six years on the board, until June 2019. Grant was not available for comment on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Doug Ebert

Ebert, 47, last served on the board in 2014. If elected, he said he would like to give department heads more decision-making power. For example, he said he would give the road commissioner more opportunity to make decisions because currently he has to go through the selectmen to expend budgeted funds.

“(I want to give) him the authority to make more decisions on his own without having to be micromanaged by the selectboard,” Ebert said. “If he needs a tree cut, he can just cut it.”

He also said he would like to make the bidding process for town projects more friendly and foster more bids — and thus more competition — for projects.

When asked why residents should vote for him, Ebert said he could bring more new ideas to the board.

Road Commissioner Steve Stratton will run unopposed for another term and incumbent RSU 2 board member Jon Lambert will run unopposed for his position.

 

DECREASING MUNICIPAL BUDGET 

As presented in the warrant, municipal spending could be as high as $1,523,590, a roughly 9.5% decrease in spending from last year’s approved spending of $1,684,186.

The largest decrease on a single line comes in expenditures related to the town’s street lights. That line is $10,000 this year, shrinking from $110,000, which included a large one-time expenditure last year to change over the town’s streetlights to LED. Frost said the reduction in street light operating costs, which saves the town about $20,000 each year, made a “huge difference” in the budget.

Frost said selectmen were initially looking at an increase in funding for summer road maintenance, but decided at the last minute to keep that funding level at $325,000 like last budget year.

Not knowing how bad all this corona(virus) stuff has hit people personally, we didn’t want to inflict monetary damage on people,” she said.

Frost said the town will save money on another mile of paving on Northern Avenue after plans were altered to reduce the scope of work for Pike Industries Inc. Previous paving jobs on Northern Avenue were the subject of media coverage after one job left a dangerous divot in the middle of the road.

Frost said she was worried about the impact of deferred maintenance on future budgets, but the Board of Selectmen will “pick away” at the jobs they feel are most important in the coming years.

The town is expecting $1,106,657 in total revenue, which is about a 9.8% increase over last year’s $1,007,797. The increased figure sees an injection of $279,817 in surplus funding, along with $500,000 in expected excise tax and $254,400 in revenue sharing, as well as smaller amounts of funding from other sources.

The town’s total spending, including the town’s $2,800,829 share of the RSU 2 budget and county tax assessment of $258,249, will be $4,688,584, roughly a 0.7% increase over last year’s figure of $4,654,215.

According to a property tax rate calculation form, residents will likely pay $17.74 per $1,000 of property value. The town expects to receive $3,581,927 in taxes this year, which is the same amount it received last year.

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