Franklin Countys First News

Farmington cancels annual town meeting

FARMINGTON - There will be no annual town meeting in Farmington this year.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, proposed expenditures that are slightly less than the current fiscal year's budget and a lack of pressing, non-budgetary articles, the Board of Selectmen voted Tuesday evening to not hold an annual town meeting, and instead commit taxes based on last year's budget.

As is the case with many towns, Farmington's March town meeting was postponed due to the pandemic. Crowd size restrictions would make the meeting difficult to hold, Town Manager Richard Davis said Tuesday, noting that options that had been discussed included a drive-in-style event or breaking participants up across multiple rooms. The Budget Committee met earlier this month and unanimously recommended that a town meeting not be held this year.

Advice from the Maine Municipal Association indicated that Farmington could commit to last year's budget, raising the same local assessment. The board has already set a date for taxes to be due, Nov. 5, and the associated interest rates.

Farmington's proposed budget was reduced following the shutdown relating to the pandemic, down to $6.1 million or $770 less than the previous year. Reductions from the previously-proposed $6.5 million were in lines associated with the Farmington Police Department - which included two vacant positions being cut for the first six months of the next fiscal year, Parks and Recreation and Farmington Fire Rescue, although the budget does include funds for two new positions as previously discussed.

In other business, the board approved $200,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding for improvements to Franklin Printing, as part of a $1.77 million project. Other sources of funding include a $1.5 million loan and $268,000 invested by the owner.

The CDBG funds are expected to create five new jobs over the next 12 to 18 months, on top of the 49 people currently employed at Franklin Printing. The funds will provide for updated software, new equipment and a will allow the commercial printing company to replace an inefficient machine.

The board also approved a marijuana business application for Michael MacNeil for an adult use outdoor cultivation facility. MacNeil said at the meeting that he would be selling directly to stores, rather than as a retail operation.

The FPD was also authorized to purchase a new drug detection K-9 with $4,500 seized in the process of drug investigations. An officer has also been approved to attend the training program, which costs $800.

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