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Selectmen, Finance Committee okay budget recommendation for fifth vote
RUMFORD -- The Board of Selectmen and Finance Committee unanimously voted on Oct. 15 to reduce their recommendations for the unclassified accounts budget by $77,200.
On Oct. 8, voters defeated the unclassified accounts budget in a 478-478 tie. The other seven municipal budget articles were approved on the same ballot.
The unclassified accounts budget includes money for workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, health insurance, liability insurance and contributions for Social Security/FICA.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that by trimming money in different areas in the unclassified accounts, he was able to reduce the budget from $1,276,000, which was what the selectmen and the Finance Committee approved at a Sept. 5 selectmen meeting, to $1,198,800.
“There are going to be fewer layoffs than we originally anticipated, due to the other seven municipal budgets passing last Tuesday,” Puiia said. “As a result, I reduced the unemployment insurance amount, tweaked the health insurance by the appropriate amount and tweaked our insurance as much as we could based on historical numbers.”
Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina later pointed out to residents that the recommendations for unemployment insurance had been reduced by $50,000, while the health insurance had been reduced from $729,300 to $580,000.
After selectmen voted 3-0 to approve the $1,198,800 recommendation, they adjourned.
The Finance Committee's budget meeting followed at 5:30 p.m. with Puiia explaining cuts in the unclassified accounts budget. Shortly after, they unanimously voted to approve the same amount as selectmen.
Prior to the selectmen's meeting, Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said that at the Oct. 8 vote, she had “about eight different people” approach her to ask what exactly the unclassified accounts budget included.
“There seems to still be some misconceptions about what the unclassified accounts will be funding,” Lovejoy said. “I think that when we go to the polls in November, we provide the information at the bottom of every ballot. I think if we give this information out, we won't have any residents wondering where the money in this budget is going.”
Puiia agreed. “Since there's just one question at this vote, we can probably list the items that the money will be going to and provide details of the unclassified accounts below,” he said.
Voters initially turned down all 12 money articles on June 11, which totaled $7.5 million. Selectmen cut $1 million from the next budget, which was presented July 23. The Finance Committee reduced the proposed budget to $7.2 million.
At the July referendum, eight of the 12 budget articles were rejected. Passed were funds for health and sanitation, the Rumford Public Library, public service and debt service.
In a third referendum Aug. 27, voters again shot down the eight remaining budget articles.