More in News
Mexico to develop new budget
MEXICO -- Following a lengthy debate, the Board of Selectmen voted by 3-2 on June 25 to meet with the Budget Committee next month to discuss the budget recently defeated by voters.
Those meetings will begin at 6 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 10. Following the two joint meetings, there will be a public hearing on the new budget at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, July 23, prior to the regular meeting, with a vote on the new budget on July 30 that will coincide with the re-vote on the RSU 10 budget.
During the referendum vote on June 11, residents rejected all but two of the 17 warrant articles, including a $901,530 public safety budget.
The debate got underway following a motion made by Selectman George Byam that the town return to the previous year's budget, as stated in the town's referendum election ordinance.
According to Section 7 of the ordinance, “if a previously funded appropriation article is disapproved by a majority vote, the appropriations for the prior fiscal year would constitute the appropriation for the current fiscal year, as determined by the current Board of Selectmen.”
“So you're saying that we would just accept the previous year's budget to run the town instead of going over and redoing the budget?” Selectman Byron Ouellette asked Byam.
Byam nodded yes.
“I don't think that's what the townspeople want,” said Ouellette.
Resident Betty Barrett agreed. “There's some stuff that people said no to that you should take another look at."
Resident Albert Aniel, who drafted a recently approved tax cap ordinance that will cap the town's operating cost at $2.73 million starting next year, said that adopting last year's budget as the current year's budget would be “insulting” to the voters who rejected the original budget.
“I understand you can go to the legal technicality, and go to the previous budget, but it's not respecting what the vote was all about, and what the people decided,” he said. “Right now is the time to rehash the budget with the Budget Committee, so that when it comes to next year, when it's going to be, according to Mr. Madigan, 'doomsday,' we don't have to reinvent the wheel, and we can set ourselves up to implement a new plan.”
Resident Clayton Weeks said that when people voted down the budget, it was a message that "they wanted the Budget Committee and selectmen to meet again for another budget. This is what the people wanted; to see if you can change my mind."
Later, Aniel added, “The selectmen and the town manager do not run the town. The citizens and the voters run the town, so you better do what the voters told you to do. If you don't, I can predict dire consequences.”
Several of the 60 people in attendance suggested to the board that the town look into combining services with Rumford and other towns in the area. Town Manager John Madigan said Mexico selectmen met with the Rumford selectmen and an independent consultant a month ago to discuss sharing services.
“Everyone involved agreed that an outside, independent consultant was the best way to go, because of all the bias in the area. Recently, the chairmen of the Mexico and Rumford boards, myself, and (Rumford Town Manager) Carlo Puiia had a conference call with the consultant, and he told us he's now drafting a proposal,” he said.
Madigan said they are considering what one police department or one fire department would look like for the River Valley towns.
Aniel said he was happy to hear that the towns were attempting to work together, but he believed that every service between the towns should be shared.
One resident said if the town were to approve the previous year's budget, the selectmen “might see some recalls coming in” like those that occurred in Peru this year.
Resident Wesley Raynor said, “Each one of you guys are either going to be the problem, or the solution, and I'll tell you right now."
After nearly 90 minutes, the vote to meet with the Budget Committee rather than adopting the previous year's budget was 2-2, with Board Chairman Richie Philbrick owning the tiebreaker.
"I want to sit down with the Budget Committee and discuss the budget," he noted. Voting with Philbrick were Ouellette and Peter Merrill.