Farmington board discusses town office work schedule, downtown parking, police staffing

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FARMINGTON – The Farmington Municipal Office staff submitted a proposal for a change in the work schedule, for a four-day workweek at ten hours per day, and the select board reviewed it during their meeting Tuesday night. Interim Town Manager Stephen Eldridge recommended that the board review this again at a later date when they bring in a new town manager.

The proposal was for a Monday-Thursday or a Tuesday-Friday schedule, with fairly detailed plans for employee absences.

Board chair Matt Smith agreed with that recommendation, saying that it didn’t seem fair to talk about it and then introduce a new manager that would ‘inherit’ the change.

Selectman Joshua Bell made a motion to table it until the future when they have a new town manager.

Selectman Dennis O’Neil noted that the town does have some experience with a four-day, ten-hour workweek, as the Department of Public Works operates under that schedule.

Vice Chair Stephan Bunker agreed with tabling the item but said he appreciated the creative thinking and thought it worth discussing again. He liked the idea of extended office hours for the public, which a ten-hour day would provide.

The board voted unanimously to table the discussion.

Wendell Olmsted, the manager at Reny’s on Broadway, asked the board if there are any options for downtown employees and customers. The two-hour parking on Broadway and Main Street and other downtown streets limits street parking, and the parking lot behind the post office is often filled, pushing employees to walk from Front Street.

One of the suggestions was to set all-day parking for all streets except for Main Street and Broadway, or a permit parking fee for employees.

Selectman Bell noted that the town worked out a deal with the county for the lot on Anson Street, which is generally not filled. He said that changing the hours for street park in the area would potentially result in college students parking there, still reducing the availability of parking for employees.

Olmsted said that it impacts the customer experience; people may go to Walmart and bypass the downtown entirely, affecting more than just Reny’s. He asked if the town would consider a parking committee of some sort, and said he would like to get involved.

“I’ve been here for 53 years and I’ve heard it for 52 of them,” Selectman Smith said.

The town has had a parking committee, but they have not met in a number of years. The board voted to send the request off to the parking committee.

Ryan Morgan presented a proposal for increased staffing at the police department to specifically address narcotics. His proposal was to add two staffing positions, one as a detective working full-time on narcotics, and to increase the pay for officers. He doesn’t want to raise the taxes, but he thinks something needs to be done to address the issue.

Morgan said he doesn’t want to open the paper and read that a child overdosed. “If we don’t do something, I’m afraid we’re gonna lose the grip on it.”

Bell shared concerns about bringing in more officers, only to have the offenders slip through the court system and go back on the streets. He suggested that if kids are the largest area of concern at this point, they could consider working with RSU 9 to set up an additional School Resource Officer.

Police Chief Kenneth Charles said that right now, the department does not have a detective. He said they need to get the community more engaged in helping the department, because information is received by the community through officer contacts. The experience requirements for the detective position have made it challenging to fill.

Charles said Morgan is right; he has been in law enforcement for twenty years and in emergency medical services before that, but he has seen trends he would not have expected five years ago.

The board asked for more information and statistics before revisiting the subject.

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

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