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New budget amounts by Rumford selectmen
RUMFORD -- Over the course of 90 minutes Monday, the Board of Selectmen proposed budget amounts for a re-vote on the eight budget articles that failed to be approved at the polls on July 23.
The eight budgets are General Government, Public Safety, Police Department, Fire Department, Public Works, General Assistance, Capital Accounts and Unclassified Accounts.
For most of the articles, selectmen decided to split the difference between the board's recommendation at the last vote and the recommendation made by the Finance Committee.
The total of the eight articles defeated, as recommended by the Board of Selectmen, was $5,432,257. The new total for those articles, as recommended by selectmen, is $5,659,267. Now, the Finance Committee will be required to meet again to make their recommendations.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said a public hearing will be held no later than Aug. 22 in the auditorium and another secret poll meeting (vote) will be scheduled no later than Sept. 6.
Resident Mark Belanger questioned how the selectmen were arriving at the new budget figures, that they didn't have a goal in mind. "I guess that's just the way it is."
Board Chairman Greg Buccina responded, "That's not the way it is at all. The goal has been clearly stated on a number of occasions is how the level of service would be affected. We proposed a budget that came in $1.5 million less than what was originally proposed, from $8.2 million to around $6.5 million. And we know how that's going to affect our level of service. That was discussed at the informational meetings that we had. Obviously, that wasn't enough. The Finance Committee did the same thing because they felt our cuts were too deep and the services would be impacted completely."
"We need to get a budget passed. We still have 400-plus people that don't want to support any of the budgets for whatever reasons they have. My hope is that the Finance Committee will support the level of service that the selectpersons establishes tonight. If that's the case, then I think the majority of voters should have enough understanding and community sense to say 'we need to pass this budget; we need this level of service' and they will pass it. Maybe a lot of people who voted 'no' will say 'we need to pass this budget for the better of our community."
Regarding the July 23 vote, Puiia noted, "The majority of the people did not vote 'no' on the budget. The majority of the people voting for funding, but because of the way we allow two amounts on the ballot, it splits that vote. That's what I refer to as a flaw in the system. Most towns vote yes or no on a budget. I think we're the only town in the state that has this kind of format."
"I don't think it's bad, but like, three years ago, when we changed the initiated article language, I tried to change this language so it that in the event that the majority of people support funding, which they did, it would default to the lower amount. Right now, you have two yes answers and one no answer. That's why we're in the predicament we're in," he said.
A little over 1,000 citizens turned out at the polls for the July 23 vote.
For the General Government budget, selectmen recommending $791,421, received 285 votes, while the Finance Committee's recommendation of $799,080 received 336 votes. However, even though more people voted to fund the budget, because they were split, 449 people voting "Neither of the above" won.
The Public Safety budget was defeated by 436 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen's recommendation of $641,615 received 286 votes; the committee's recommendation of $663,752 received 349 votes.
The Police Department budget was defeated by 442 people choosing neither recommendation. Selectmen recommended $716,274, which got 261 votes; the committee recommended $761,274, which tallied 367 votes.
The Fire Department budget was defeated by 425 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen recommendation of $625,528 received 284 votes and the committee recommendation of $687,877 received 358 votes.
For Health and Sanitation, 412 people voted for the Finance Committee's recommendation of $662,931, approving the budget. The selectmen's recommendation of $533,931 got 316 votes and "Neither of the above" got 345 votes.
The Public Works budget was defeated by 410 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen recommendation of $874,160 received 303 votes and the committee's recommendation of $969,910 received 358 votes.
The General Assistance budget was defeated by 460 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen recommendation of $78,853 received 344 votes and the committee's recommendation of $82,000 received 261 votes.
The library budget was approved by 376 people choosing the Finance Committee's recommendation of $225,000. The selectmen's recomendation of $191,250 got 341 votes and those choosing neither recommendation tallied 343 votes.
Selectmen and the Finance Committee recommended the same amounts for public service and debt service. The Public Service budget of $219,960 was approved 610 to 456, and Debt Service budget of $148,685 was approved 640-405.
The Capital Accounts budget was defeated by 441 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen recommendation of $423,000 received 320 votes and the Finance Committee recommendation of $460,031 got 311 votes.
The Unclassified Accounts budget was defeated by 441 people choosing neither recommendation. The selectmen's recommendation of $1,281,400 received 287 votes and the committee recommendation of $1,491,000, received 347 votes. The Finance Committee had increased the Unclassfied Accounts budget by adding $118,000 to help the Greater Rumford Community Center and $51,000 to aid Black Mountain Ski Resort.
Voters defeated the initially proposed municipal budget on June 11. Selectmen then reduced their recommendation from the original requested amount of $7.6 million to $6.5 million, and the Finance Committee reduced its budget recommendations to $7.2 million.