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Rumford to develop a fourth budget
RUMFORD -- The Board of Selectmen will work to develop a fourth municipal budget when they meet this Thursday. The Finance Committee will do the same next Tuesday.
That action is necessary after voters turned down all eight articles on Aug. 27 as follows:
* $655,000 for the Fire Department, by a vote of 514-629.
* $738,774 for the Police Department, 509-639.
* $652,683 for public safety, 513-634.
* $78,000 for General Assistance, 489-658.
* $799,080 for general government, 506-641.
* $423,000 for capital accounts, 504-643.
* $1,390,700 for unclassified accounts, 465-679.
Voters turned down all 12 money articles on June 11. They 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 that 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.
Following that July 23 vote, Town Manager Carlo 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."
As a result, the Board of Selectmen, at a meeting on July 29, split the difference between the board's recommendation at the last vote and the recommendation made by the Finance Committee. Then the Finance Committee approved the same amounts as the selectmen.
However, that proved not to make a difference.
Puiia said the town's charter allows revotes as many times as needed until a municipal budget is passed. Each referendum costs the town about $5,000.
A public hearing on the new figure must be held within 30 days of the vote, and a referendum within 45 days of the last vote.
The current tax rate is $24.25 per $1,000 of valuation. Puiia said he expects that rate to remain the same, or possibly to drop slightly. The final figure will be determined by the value of the NewPage paper mill.
Because the town has not yet passed a budget, tax bills have not been sent, which could cause a cash-flow problem.
Puiia said the town has a good cash reserve, and in the past, has asked NewPage to make an early tax payment. It is likely that the town will again make a request.
He said the town has never had to take out a tax-anticipation note. Whenever that is done, interest is added to the original borrowed figure.