Farmington board meets to discuss 2021 town office budgets

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FARMINGTON – The Farmington Selectboard met Tuesday evening for discussion of departmental 2020 budgets as well as to consider budget plans for 2021. The board also discussed the salary rates that the public can expect in 2021.

“The salary adjustment for non-union folks and public works are two percent across the board,” Town Manager Richard Davis said. “We were fortunate this year in that we didn’t have an increase in health insurance premiums, but the workers’ comp is where we saw the most increases.”

Overall, the most impactful issue regarding the reviews of 2020 budgets from Farmington’s town offices was navigating the increase in workers’ compensation due to the 2019 LEAP building explosion that happened on Sep. 16 2019. The explosion cost the town’s worker’s compensation carrier nearly $2 million in claims, increasing the town’s premiums by $335,000. This affected a variety of town offices in order to meet the financial demands of those most immediately affected in the Fire Department.  Many of the reviews presented reflected this increase as well as other impacts due to the covid pandemic. The 2020 Law Enforcement budget reflected the cut in staffing as well as training and education. Farmington’s Police Department is anticipating a full staff for 2021 though, including a member to replace retired Police Chief Jack Peck, who also served as the station’s firearms instructor. The 2021 budget reflects the increase in salary as well as education due to changing resources as the pandemic persists.

“I don’t think the online training we’ve been attending will be free forever,” said Deputy Chief Shane Cote on the budget plan’s increase from 2020.

The Fire Department is also considering a budget with a 36.11 percent increase from 2020’s.

Parks and Recreation has made a name for itself on social media this past year with providing virtual programs and continuing to host activities for the community, near and far, but their 2020 budget took a hit as a result.

“The way you have to run programs in covid times is a lot more money,” said Parks and Recreation Director Matthew Foster.

The department’s budget showed nearly a 1000 percent increase in worker’s comp. as well as a dip in revenue. The budget discussed for 2021 was an 11.24 percent increase from 2020, in an attempt to overturn some of the impacts of 2020 and to set the department up for a more successful and conventional year.

“I’m trying to plan for us to run like normal, which was something we couldn’t do this year,” said Foster.

Some of the other attending offices such as the assessor’s office, code enforcement and public works all reported increases in workers’ comp and budgets with increases from 2020.

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