Stop business as usual
To the Editor:
One must admit that the face of Rumford in 2013 doesn't look like it did in the 60's, 70's, 80's and even into the 90's. Rumford was once a booming town. Businesses were flourishing. Most of the citizens who lived here owned property and maintained it. There was a time when 10,000 people lived here. Sadly, those days are behind us. Today Rumford's population is under 5,000, and many of these people don't pay property taxes.
We are replacing our hard-working, dying elderly with folks who feel entitled to as much free stuff as they can get their hands on. Rumford's general assistance budget is too high. We have always been firm believers that it is our duty to help the poor and those who fall upon hard times. The word, "welfare" once meant to give someone a hand up in a time of need. Now, it is given to many who afford beer, cigarettes, drugs, cable TV, new tattoos, piercing and the list goes on.
The idea that Rumford's spending should be business as usual has also become a thing of the past. It is evident that the results of the last three Rumford budget elections have signaled that the citizens want change. If the select board and finance committee are having difficulty deciphering which direction to go in when they present new budget figures, the key words are lower budgets! This shrinking town cannot sustain an $8 million budget for too much longer, especially if something happens to our largest employer.
Many decisions are made behind the scenes in executive sessions which cost the town tens of thousands of dollars. Here, union contracts are filled with goodies such as $500 sign on bonuses for some union employees to sign their contracts, agreements on health care coverage are made with no contributions from the employees, three year contracts are signed which include automatic raises for each consecutive year without knowing what the budget figure will be and the list goes on. These are decisions made by our town officials, and they are financially unsustainable in the long run. It is irresponsible spending in an ever-shrinking town. To top it off, 80 percent of Rumford's taxpayer dollars is allotted for salaries, pensions and benefits. Is there any wonder why our infrastructure is crumbling? What's left for the town?
It is disturbing to witness the town government going after cuts which will punish the taxpayers for wanting to lower the budgets. There is plenty of wasteful spending which can be reigned in. It's a matter of the select board and finance committee to find it in them to make some tough decisions.
The legislative body has spoken loud and clear (three times). They are tuned in and educated on the issues. They are not feeble minded. Give the town a chance to vote on a $6.2 million budget, and this will all be over.
Lastly, if the town officials are weary about the cost of going back to the polls multiple times, they only have themselves to blame. Listen to the voice of the people. You were elected by them.
Mark and Lucille Belanger,