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Farmington recognizes retiring municipal officials during annual town meeting

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FARMINGTON – During the annual town meeting Monday night, two long-term municipal officials were recognized for their decades of service to the town.

Selectboard Chair Matt Smith presented a plaque to retiring board member Stephan Bunker, in recognition of his 52 years of service from 1972 to 2024.

“For a minute I was at a loss for words but as a good politician I quickly recovered,” Bunker said. “I do want to thank you for your kindness. I’m not sure where the years went by but it’s been, ninety-nine percent of the time, it’s been an absolute thrill.”

 

Stephan Bunker and Matt Smith at the 2024 Annual Town Meeting.

 

“I’ve always joked to people that I’ve only been in for the money, and the reality is, I have been enriched by it. Not from the dollars and cents, but it’s the people that I’ve known and visited and work with,” he continued. Bunker has worked with seven town managers, with Erica LaCroix making the eighth, and countless selectboard members, many of whom he has learned from. He noted the current board, saying, “We’ve been able to disagree without being disagreeable, and I will miss this board very much for all of their good work.”

He also recognized the department heads and town employees, fellow municipal officials on the budget committee, conversation committee, planning board, and more. Bunker gave special recognition to his ‘beloved’ fire department, saying he hopes to reach fifty years of service there.

“This is not a eulogy. I’m not going to go away, I’m going to find some way to still contribute to this beautiful community that I love so much. And I’m going to encourage you to do something like that also. Do something to give back,” Bunker said, noting some of the many community organizations that are always welcoming new members and volunteers. “Find a way to give back, if you will, and you’ll see me out there also. And thank you very much for your kind support. God bless our town, and God bless America.”

Fen Fowler with the budget committee also shared a presentation, recognizing retiring member Lloyd Smith, who has served 25 years on the budget committee. His insight and experience helped the budget committee make wise decisions about using taxpayer funds, Fowler said. Lloyd Smith was presented with a plaque and small gift.

Lloyd’s only comment was that he was speechless.

For the selectboard positions, Matt Smith ran unopposed for another three-year term. He was reelected with 159 votes. Earlier this year Stephan Bunker announced that he would be stepping down, with two years remaining in his term, and Sydney Brown and Richard Morton both ran for the seat. Brown received 89 votes and Morton was elected with 112 votes.

For the school board, Gloria McGraw was elected for a three-year term with 145 votes, and Wayne Kinney was elected for a one-year term with 163 votes.

The town meeting lasted just shy of forty-five minutes, and the warrant articles and budget passed with the recommended amounts with little discussion. Of note, the Farmington Public Library budget request was a 12.95 percent increase over the previous year. Library representatives explained this is largely to increase staff hours, noting that Friday afternoons they are typically understaffed. In addition, they have a young adult room and have been developing more teen and young adult programming, which can be paid for with grant funds, but they do need more library staff to support the programs.

The Town of Farmington also removed funding for a number of non-profit organizations around the county, as the county commissioners agreed last year to fund the organizations through the county budget and recommended full funding for this upcoming year. In previous years’ budget meetings at the county and local level it has been explained that many of these organizations do not request funds from the county and from municipalities in the same year as it could be considered ‘double-dipping’, with the county budget funded through local taxes as well as the town budgets. In previous years when the county did not fund these organizations, Farmington has contributed to the funding while also recommending that the county fund these organizations.

This meeting was recorded by Mt. Blue TV and is available for viewing online at MtBlueTV.org

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