FARMINGTON — Selectmen met with department heads Tuesday night to review their budget requests for 2021.

Town Manager Richard Davis said there is an increase of about $743,000.

“Fully half of that increase is in workers’ comp as a result of the (LEAP) explosion,” he said. “We’ve paid out nearly $2 million and will continue to pay.”

Beyond that, the budget is about 0.5% over the budget proposed last year prior to cuts being made, Davis said.

The town is expected to see substantial new revenue from the (Sandy River Farms) solar project and a healthy unassigned fund balance could offset some of the increases, he noted.

A 2% cost of living adjustment across the board for all departments except police, who had different contract negotiations was given all employees, Davis said.

The Police Department budget request is up $194,629 with most of the increase going to salaries, wages and associated personnel expenses. An additional $22,500 is being requested for vehicles.

“Last year we bought two used vehicles,” interim Police Chief Shane Cote said.

He is looking to purchase a new vehicle this year to replace one with more than 100,000 miles on it.

“The state won’t always have used cars available,” Cote said.

One vehicle was kept last year so that each officer would have a vehicle, he said.

About $5,000 was added to contractual services after it was discovered some contracts hadn’t been included in the 2020 budget, Cote said.

The fire rescue budget is up $204,604.

A full year of wages is included for the two full-time firefighters added last August. Another proposed per diem firefighter would provide 10 hours of coverage Monday through Friday.

“That will give us four people here during the daytime for emergency calls,” Chief Terry Bell said.

Overtime was increased $3,000 to cover vacations and while firefighters injured in the explosion undergo more surgeries, he said.

Other items in the fire/rescue budget were brought back up to where they were prior to cuts last year, Chief Bell said.

There were 484 calls last year, he noted.

Almost $61,000 of the $121,119 increase in the public works proposed budget is for workers’ comp, Director Philip Hutchins said.

Under vehicle and equipment reserve, an additional $20,000 is being requested for a total of $220,000, he said.

The loader was scheduled to be replaced last year, but the military conversion planned for 2021 was done instead, Hutchins said. Adding $20,000 would give $366,000 total and the department would be on track to replace the loader and the 2004 plow truck, he added.

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