FARMINGTON – The budget season for fiscal year 2023 is underway in the Town of Farmington.
This year’s process has been different from previous years, with both the budget committee and select board attending joint meetings to hear the initial budget presentation from department heads.
The budget committee was off to a slow start with no officers elected by the first joint meeting on January 10. During the following meeting on January 11, one committee member expressed frustration with the structure of the meeting schedule, saying that the town manager’s schedule and arrangements had essentially nullified the purpose of the budget committee.
Other committee members asked for clarification on the process as the committee typically met in late December to elect officers and address other housekeeping business, something that did not happen this budget season.
Matt Smith, chair of the select board, said that the arrangement was an attempt to mitigate concerns of differing information. When Smith served on the budget committee prior to the select board, the committee and the board may have worked on the budgets with different information based on the questions asked and answered during the separate department budget presentations. By holding the initial presentations as a joint meeting, the goal was to ensure that both groups had the same information with which to work on the budget.
Some budget committee members agreed that the concept made sense, but that the process needed to be communicated better, and that they needed more time to set up the committee and attend to business.
The budget committee later agreed to hold the majority of their budget discussions and deliberations separately from the select board.
Another component to this year’s budget season is the development of capital improvement plans for all the departments in the town. These plans are designed by the department heads and outline expected needs and capital expenses over the next several years, with the goal of creating a plan to address those needs proactively.
The select board and the budget committee continue to work on the budget for the year. No formal recommendations have been made by either group at this point.
The Farmington select board meetings are recorded by Mt. Blue TV, including the select board discussions on the budget and the joint meetings with the initial budget presentations. These meetings are available online at MtBlueTV.org.