FARMINGTON — Selectmen on Tuesday voted to postpone approval of the sewer budget and sewer rates until April 26 to give new Selectman Byron Staples time to review the figures.

Those amounts are not included in the municipal budget.

Staples had sought to put off approval until after the annual town meeting May 9. That meeting had twice been postponed — from March 28 to April 25 and then to May 9 — due to concerns with the proposed 2022 municipal budget and salary increases.

The $8.5 million municipal spending plan is 25% higher than last year. It includes a 7.3% cost-of-living adjustment for employees, plus additional money to bring staff in line with what similarly sized Maine towns pay.

“The (sewer) budget did go up a little this year,” department head Stephen Millett said prior to Staples’ request. Pay raises and insurance contributed to the increase, he said. He said the proposed budget would not change sewer rates.

Staples said he wanted more time to get answers.


“I think it is important we see what happens at town meeting and see what voters decide,” he said. “There’s a lot of similarities between budgets, it is important to get a feel for how the voters are going to react.”

Selectman Stephan Bunker said the sewer budget is a separate account and stands aside from town meeting. Selectmen may make those decisions, he said.

“As a representative of the taxpayers, I feel the voters who are voting might also potentially be the sewer rate payers,” Staples said. Some of his confusion centered on a previous revision which showed a 4.69% increase while the latest one was 11.78%.

A lot goes into the budget, sewer employee Mavis Gensel said. “We know how (costs are) going straight up. The department keeps its budget incredibly close, she said.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Matthew Smith asked if there was a particular part of the budget Staples was not comfortable with.

Staples said there is no reserve account balance or fund balances.


The 2021 figures from the auditor haven’t been received yet, Gensel said, noting there is about $2.4 million in reserves.

A copy of the sewer budget was shared with selectmen and the Budget Committee, Town Manager Christian Waller said.

Resident Ryan Morgan asked what would happen if the budget were to pass with a 25% increase for staff and voters decide not to pass other budgets at town meeting.

“I’ve got something to say about that,” Gensel said.

Having worked for the town for almost 33 years, she said she’s making less than $20 per hour, and last year a counter clerk was hired at almost the same pay.

“I have had no raise for 14 years,” she said. “I am tired of it.”


In addition to her sewer department work, Gensel prepares the tax liens and foreclosures.

“My job is huge; I deserve a raise,” she said. “When I leave in a couple years, (the town is) going to pay somebody a whole lot more than they are paying me.

Staples said he agreed with Gensel 100% regarding pay, but thought there were a few other things that might need to be revised.

Smith asked if putting off a decision for two weeks would give Staples enough time, but he wanted to stick with his motion for a May 9 vote.

Bunker moved to table the decision until April 26. It was approved by all four selectmen, including Scott Landry. Joshua Bell was absent.

In other business, the board approved using $5,857.94 from the unassigned fund balance to help Franklin County pay for an upgrade to the gasoline fuel station used by Farmington and the county. The total cost is $16,250 to replace the keys with magnetic key cards.

Farmington has a similar arrangement with Regional School Unit 9 for diesel, Bunker said.

“I think this is a great thing,” Morgan said. “We have saved a lot of money; purchasing in bulk has helped.”

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