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Tough choices ahead for selectmen
RUMFORD/MEXICO -- It's back to the drawing board for selectmen in Rumford and Mexico as they begin work on new, leaner budgets to bring back to the voters following the June 11 referendum municipal budget defeats.
Slogans of "Save Rumford" or "Save Mexico" followed by voting "no" worked for groups on that end, although voters were also concerned about the continued state budget struggles and the expected loss of state revenue sharing dollars. State Sen. John
Patrick said the complete loss of revenue sharing, as proposed by Gov. LePage, would include $598,000 to Mexico and $979,000 to Rumford, as well as $368,000 to Dixfield (where citizens already approved their budget).
In Rumford, a special Board of Selectmen's meeting took place to begin work upon recommendations for defeated budgetary articles in the defeated $8 million municipal budget. The board was to decide upon the recommendations to go before the voters at this meeting and/or the next meeting on Thursday.
The Finance Committee members will also need to reconvene to make a recommendation for the voters. The Finance Committee chair will determine the date and time of the meeting to take place before June 26 and after the Board of Selectmen has made their decisions.
The Board of Selectmen will meet to approve the new warrant tentatively on July 3 and hold a public hearing by July 11. The budgets must be voted upon by the citizens of Rumford by July 26.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the current 2011-12 budget, which ends on June 30, will prevail at 1/12th its amount per budget article per month until a new budget article is accepted by voters.
As for union contracts, which have already been approved by selectmen, each union will have to be involved in new budget discussions, Puiia said. Unions can take legal action on the lack of funding at the agreed-upon rate, he said.
In Mexico, selectmen will begin the process of developing new figures for much of the budget as on June 11, voters rejected 15 of the 17 warrant articles, with only the solid waste budget and the town's insurance budget approved.
The $235,467 solid waste budget was approved by a 246-222 vote, while the $50,000 insurance budget was approved by a 240-223 vote.
The municipal budget being proposed was $2.99 million, which was $13,767 more than the current year.
The defeated items included a $901,530 public safety budget, which voters rejected 295-190.
Prior to the election, the Board of Selectmen proposed the town raise and appropriate $901,530 for public safety, while the Budget Committee recommended $669,368.
For the Police Department, selectmen proposed $400,161, while the Budget Committee recommended $180,000.
The difference between the board's figures and the Budget Committee's figures stemmed from the Budget Committee allotting no money for the Police Department and raising $180,000 to pay the federal government back for a loan it awarded the town to pay for the expenses of a fifth police officer.
Voters also rejected the $114,973 recreation budget, 331-158.
Rumford's official budget recommendations and tallies are as follows. When selectmen and the Finance Committee recommendations differed, voters were given the option to choose neither:
* General Government, $861,264 — 457 to 1,037
* Public Safety (emergency management, utilities, pension-retirement and code enforcement): $691,452 selectmen — 204 votes; $691,283 Finance Committee —347 votes; neither — 932 votes
* Police Department, $817,656 — 489-993
* Fire Department: $733,850 selectmen — 213 votes; $7214,827 FC — 382; neither — 889
* Health and Sanitation, $678,571 — 580-923
* Public Works, $1,134,969 — 541-957
* General Assistance, $83,137 — 432 to 1,057
* Public Library: $227,589 selectmen — 239 votes; $225,000 FC — 405; neither — 827
* Public Service, $234,013 — 503-987
* Debt Service, $156,685 — 575-887
* Capital Accounts, $511,146 — 479 to 1,012
* Unclassified Accounts (contingency, insurance and Social Security), $1,390,700 — 488-998
Of the proposed $259,335 for initiated articles' requests for social services donations, voters only approved raising and appropriating $12,875 on four articles.
* $3,200 for Androscoggin Home Care & Hospice; 762-692
* $5500 for Hope Association; 757-693
* $4,000 for Rumford Senior Citizens; 785-684
* $175 for Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee; 728-716
Puiia said there is no recourse for defeated initiated article requests now, because voters previously approved a charter change after Black Mountain ski area successfully petitioned in 2010 for a revote of its funding request that voters initially defeated.
Those voting 'yes' on initiated articles that selectmen and the committee split on recommendations, were asked to choose which option they liked. Not everyone did. Defeated initiated articles were:
* American Legion Auxiliary Unit 24 for Girls State, $275 FC — 651-768. Selectmen had recommended no funding, which got 50 votes.
* American Legion Napoleon Ouellette Post 24 Boys State, $275 — 670-784
* American Red Cross, $3,000 — 683-781
* Black Mountain of Maine, $51,000 FC — 497-939. Selectmen recommended $51,700, which got 200 votes.
* Chisholm Ski Club, $1,540 — 492-974
* Community Concepts Inc., $1,500 — 542-929
* Greater Rumford Community Center, $138,100 — 657-829
* Greater Rumford Community Center Summer Programs, $22,720 — 607-845
* Holy Savior School textbooks, $1,250 — 509-934
* Holy Savior School testing, $1,500 FC — 476-926. Selectmen recommended $750, which got 152 votes.
* Holy Savior School health services, $550 — 489-954
* Oxford County Mental Health, $2,500 — 607-842
* River Valley Animal Advocates, $1,000 — 543-909
* River Valley Chamber of Commerce, $2,500 — 462-980
* River Valley Growth Council, $6,000 selectmen — 420 to 1,005. The Finance Committee recommended $8,000, which got 122 votes.
* River Valley Healthy Communities, $1,250 selectmen — 453-500. The Finance Committee recommended $1,750, which got 125 votes.
* Rumford Group Homes, $500 selectmen — 561-898. The Finance Committee recommended $750, which got 182 votes.
* Safe Voices (formerly known as Abused Women's Advocacy Project), $2,000 — 646-819
* Seniors Plus, $2,500 selectmen — 694-744. The Finance Committee recommended $3,500, which got 220 votes.
* Tri-County Mental Health, $4,500 — 548-915
* Western Maine Transportation, $2,000 — 623-843
Of the proposed ordinances and amendments, the only proposed town law change approved was a new, stricter fireworks ordinance. It passed by 738-717.
In the other votes:
* Allowing the Finance Committee to set the dates and number of its meetings annually, was defeated 690-754.
* Allowing police officers to live 40 miles and/or 45 minutes from Rumford, was defeated 465-990.
* Requiring people applying for hawkers and peddlers licenses with Rumford to have liability insurance, listing the town as an additionally insured party, and allowing selectmen to grant licenses to a group association if the board deems it's in the best interest of the town, was defeated 713-732.
* Establishing standards to maintain buildings in town with enforcement provisions, was defeated 540-912.
By a tally of 642-862, residents also voted not to accept the Revised Comprehensive Plan.