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Recreation as part of town budget?
RUMFORD -- At some point before the next budget, town officials will discuss a lingering issue about whether or not to include
recreation as part of the municipal budget.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia raised the issue at the Oct. 1 Board of Selectmen's meeting, noting, "It keeps coming up every year, questioning why recreation is not part of the town budget. It's an agenda item for the board to consider for the upcoming budget cycle because of what happened to the Greater Rumford Community Center."
"Does the town want to consider including recreation as part of the budget instead of an initiated article?" he asked the board.
Selectman Jeff Sterling asked, "How would it happen?"
Puiia responded, "Well, you would place a line item or a number of line items in your budget somewhere, probably in Parks and Recreation. That's why the discussion is started."
"When you get to the budget cycle, someone says 'this should be in our budget,' but it's not. So this is the opportunity to say, 'Should it?'"
Sterling asked, "Could we just add a department, out of the blue essentially."
Puiia said, "You can propose a budget article. It's still up to the citizens to approve or reject."
He then asked, "Is that something the town wants to consider, or is it a contract of services issue?"
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said, "It would be nice to have a meeting where you've got the people who are currently involved. Just have a workshop. You have something that does need to be dealt with."
Puiia agreed. "You have a workshop. You include the Parks Department, maybe the GRCC board...Maybe try to get the ball rolling when you get to budget time."
Board Chairman Greg Buccina said, "It doesn't define how you'd do recreation or how you would fund recreation, but it would be asking whether or not we'd want to include it as a municipal budget instead of an initiated article."
Board members noted that they should make sure that recreation is part of the discussion with the municipal joint study with the Town of Mexico.
Lovejoy added, "It's important to have an outside group looking at those things because the thing that comes up most often are egos or my way or your way."
Selectman Frank DiConzo said, "I think if they could come up with something for recreation for the area, I think we have to look at facilities first and hopefully that will play a big role. If a town, or two towns, are going to run recreation facility, you've got to have proper facilities that are fully handicapped accessible and set up for all ages."
Buccina noted, "I think there's going to be a lot of discussion on this issue, about how we go forward with it as far as which way we want to fund it. If it's going to be co-mingling with Mexico. If it's going to be supporting programs. There's going to be a lot of questions."
He noted that "We won't let it fall it off the table."
Puiia said he will make it point to discuss this with Don Jutton of Municipal Resources, Inc., that "this is an item that we need to work out."
In other business, resident Eric Giroux asked selectmen for permission to set up a toll road for the Fireman's Relief Fund in the near future.
“I understand that the police chief isn't too supportive of them,” Giroux said, “but we had one of these a couple of years ago, and it went pretty well for us. I was thinking that we could maybe meet somewhere in the middle. I mean, we could even do a toll parking lot if you wanted.”
Chairman Greg Buccina asked Giroux the reason for the toll road.
“It's for the Fireman's Relief Fund,” Giroux said. “We're a couple hundred dollars away from our goal right now" of raising money to repair a firetruck.
"The last toll road we had helped pay for pretty much all of what we were raising money for,” he said
Buccina said the board would discuss the request.
Under selectmen's report, Lovejoy said, "I'd like to mention how great I think downtown Rumford looks. You know, all that work in the downtown is done by volunteers. And not to single anyone out, but there was one item that I had neglected to even notice until my husband mentioned it to me, and he said 'did you see the pumpkins downtown?'"
"I said, 'What pumpkins?' I'm so much looking from behind the wheel; on every one of the posts, there's a pumpkin about this big around hanging. And if you're there in the daytime, there's a hole in the top of the pumpkin and the light hits it perfectly and the little face looks like it's lit right up," she said.
"This person did this on his own, purchased the pumpkins, installed the pumpkins with no fanfare or anything. What a nice thing, when people get up and out of their homes and take some responsibility for the beauty of this town," noted Lovejoy.