Hope of sharing services?
RUMFORD -- With the hopes that this time talks will yield positive results, the board of selectmen from Rumford and Mexico will meet at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, April 17.
The public meeting will take place downstairs in the Mexico Town Hall.
This time, Rumford Selectman Jolene Lovejoy pushed for the meeting and talked to two Mexico selectmen who favored the talks. She said Mexico set a date and her board approved the measure Thursday.
Lovejoy said that in her 14 years as a selectman, "I've been on boards that have tried to meet with the Town of Mexico, Dixfield, and got together and tried to make some changes, to get towns to do more sharing. We would always go to meetings and bobble heads, and the Rumford Board of Selectmen at that time were not always willing to do anything that included Rumford and Mexico in regionalization. We were in favor of meeting to do it."
"This board has talked about it numerous times and not just because of what's happening with the mill, but the mill is a big factor in this right now because this has the potential of changing the lives of everybody in Rumford as well as the Town of Mexico," she said.
Lovejoy said this could be the start of a process to share services. "What can we do? What do you want to do? Maybe we can come up with an approach of how to do it."
Selectman Jeff Sterling noted that the Board of Assessors requested to meet with the Board of Selectmen that same day anytime after 4 p.m. when their professional assessor will be available.
After a discussion with a citizen prior to this meeting, Selectman Brad Adley suggested, "Maybe there's credibility into bringing citizens into the process."
It was noted that public is invited to attend.
Citizen Kevin Saisi said, "It's essential going into this meeting that people understand the intent of the meeting. It is to collaborate together, not necessarily to merge the towns."
Lovejoy responded, "It is for 10 people to sit down and talk. Do not read more into this than that."
Citizen Frank DiConzo said, "Hopefully, it will go better than the last time we tried it. And that this board is all on board so that when they get there, they don't change their minds, bow out, and say they don't wait it."
Yesterday, a special board meeting was held by selectmen to consider a tax relief petition introduced Thursday by organizer Mark Belanger.
On Wednesday, Belanger and Phil Zinck co-organized The Concerned Rumford Taxpayers Group meeting at Sam's, which brought a large turnout.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy attended the taxpayers meeting. "It was an informative meeting. I can tell you that as a selectman, it was a hell of a lot easier to sitting in your audience than to be sitting up here on every first and third Thursday."
The petition seeks to create an ordinance to cap the property tax levy at $17.5 for each fiscal year, starting July 1, 2013. The current tax rate is $24.25 per $1,000 of valuation.
According to Rumford's Charter, the board has five days to decide a course of action. Town Manager Carlo Puiia said selectmen on Tuesday will consider whether or not the petition evokes emergency status that allows them to grant its request for a special town meeting.
If they decide against that, the petitioners must draft another petition and get signatures to bypass selectmen and force a special town meeting. That second petition would need 454 signatures of Rumford residents, said Puiia.
Town Attorney Jennifer Kreckel reviewed the tax relief petition's language.
The Finance Committee began their public hearings on the municipal budgets on Tuesday and it continues Wednesday at 6 p.m. in the Rumford Falls Auditorium. On Thursday, the committee will have a public hearing on the initiated article requested at 6 p.m. here as well.
Puiia said, "There were a lot of questions about the removal of snow on Falls Hill. People were wondering why were doing that. The concern is the amount of sand deposited on that side of the road would clog or hamper the drainage system in that area. A lot of people thought it was just busy work, but there was a purpose for doing that."
The board approved an agreement with the Maine Department of Transportation, allowing its contractor to haul heavy equipment on Route 232 to allow its contractor to transport construction equipment, such as backhoes and bulldozers that exceed legal limits, over Rumford roads.
The equipment will be used to reconstruct 9.13 miles of Route 232 between Woodstock and Martin Memorial Bridge over the Androscoggin River in Rumford.
Selectmen did not approve a bid for a cured-in-place-pipe lining project for sewer pipes under Prospect Avenue. Puiia said there is money in reserve to do the sewer pipe work. However, budget concerns, angst about whether the paper mill will close or not, and a desire to resurface the road, were all considered prior to deciding against the pipe-lining project.