Bold action needed by taxpayers
To the Editor:
It’s budget season again and things are looking bleak for the town of Rumford. No one in town government, with the exception of Selectmen Mark Belanger, wants to acknowledge the desperate need to reduce services and spending.
The 2010 census for the town is due out anytime now and it will show that we our population is around 5,000 and not the 6,400 used to discuss budgets. Over the past few years, it has been said that Rumford never exceeded a 10,000 in population; that is incorrect. If you go to www.maine.gov and click on “Facts & History”; then go to Top Online Searches and click “Census,” Then go to town search and put in Rumford/1940. You will see that we were over 10000 in 1940 and in 1960.
We now have more police officers and firefighters than we did in 1960 and we are half the population; it is accurate to say that these departments have doubled since 1960. And instead of attempting to produce a budget to
fit the number of taxpayers, we continued the time obeyed tradition in Rumford that says budgets always go up and services never go down.
Our Board of Selectmen has no appetite for reducing spending. Instead, they do foolish things like approving a surplus Hummer for the police department. The claim was that the Hummer is free; but, by the time we paint it, equip and insure it, we will have spent over ten thousand dollars. Rumford currently pays the benefits for a Rumford Police Officer to be assigned to the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency; they do the off road drug extradition so we don’t need a Hummer for that reason. Hummers get 4-6 miles per gallon.
The seasonally expected letter about our “gem” the library has already been in the paper. Despite the contents of that letter, the Rumford Library has not had its budget slashed. It did have the funding cut for 18 hours of unnecessary operation. The library was expanded in 1970 when we were over 9,300 citizens. Considering the increase in access to the internet both at home and at school, along with fact that our population has been cut in half, there is no need for more than 40 hours of operation.
Unless the Finance Committee decides to take on the task of cutting our budget significantly, it will be up to the taxpayers. They will have to ignore the hype of projected crime sprees and increases in deaths and general mayhem and vote “no” on the budget items that they feel are excessive. Voting "no" does not do away with the department; voting "no" sends the budget back to the Board of Selectmen to be lowered.
We have less and less businesses, we have less and less people, we have less and less taxpayers and yet, we have more and more services and higher and higher taxes. It will take bold action by the taxpayers or the town will fail.