To the Editor:
In April, 2013, the mill manager and other leaders of NewPage came to the Rumford board of selectmen asking them to make cuts to this year’s budget in an effort to help relieve their tax burden as a cost-saving measure.
They knew that unless the budgets were decreased, any loss of valuation from the mill would be shifted to the Rumford property owners and would cause a major increase in their taxes. As I sat through that meeting, I envisioned and hoped for a decision by our board of selectpersons which would be one of great urgency to help the biggest economic engine this town has. I hoped the board would have taken the initiative to protect the taxpayers from a large mil rate increase. There was no action taken by the board.
On June 11, the electorate spoke loud and clear. They understood the need to stop wasteful, run-away spending. They understood the need for significant reductions and restructuring of how we deliver services. Yes, the select board made cuts, but some were made out of spite.
Cutting curb side garbage pick up, an obvious maneuver to punish you and inflict as much pain upon you for having the courage to vote "no" was a strategic move on their part to teach you a lesson. This cut is not allowed under town law. (Chapter 21-B Section 2).
Some ideas that would reduce spending are:
1. Reducing our police force and utilizing the Sheriff’s Department in some capacity.
2. Taking a hard look at staffing in the fire department and seriously look at sharing services with neighboring towns.
3. Restructuring the public works department to do the much needed maintenance work around town and subcontracting services such as sand pick up, road construction, etc.
Rumford has very high manpower costs averaging up to $90,000 fully loaded (wages and benefits) per full-time employee. I cannot see how we can continue this trend and survive, especially if something happens to our largest employer.
Rumford’s population is now less than 5,000, and at this point in Rumford’s history, the lowest budget number should rule the day at the ballot box.