Views about fourth Rumford budget vote
To the Editor:
Rumford is going to the polls again October 8 to consider the remaining eight budget articles.
Town officials have made some more small reductions in their proposed budgets, but not nearly as much as they should have. With a significant reduction in the taxable value of the NewPage mill expected to be announced soon, it is unclear yet whether these reductions will even produce a tax cut.
This is the fourth vote on the budget. The town is in the unprecedented situation of not having an approved budget four months into the new fiscal year. Why? Because voters made it clear again and again that they want to see significant reductions in the bloated town budget, and yet the selectboard and finance committee have made only token, begrudging cuts.
As a result, the voters have said "no" three times in a row.
How have town officials responded? In public meetings, they have claimed the majority voted no because the voters were “coerced” or lied to, didn't understand what they were voting on, that many voters were mentally-challenged people who were directed how to vote, and others were low income apartment dwellers on government assistance. Rumford voters: do you think that sounds like you?
Rather than promising to do their jobs as best they could whatever the budget, they have threatened the public with increased crime, uncontrolled house fires and unplowed winter roads.
These comments are inappropriate and unacceptable.
Now, voters face a fourth election and a challenge. A complete budget stalemate this late in the year could hurt the financial stability of the town as well as the morale of town employees. This time around, a simple "no" vote would not be in the town's best interest.
Yet approving the entire budget would not be in the town's interest either. Town officials need to know their proposals and their behavior are unacceptable. Further budget reductions must be made if there is to be any kind of significant tax cut.
We would urge voters to approve any articles with which they feel comfortable, but to continue to vote "no" on articles in which we all can see room for reduction. The result, we hope, will be that some progress will be made on approving the budget, but a sufficient number of articles will be defeated that the town leaders will be reminded, once again, that the indisputable will of the voters is for less spending and lower taxes.
Articles for various departments still should be reduced. The voters can decide which. Unlike our current elected officials, we actually respect their judgement.
See you at the polls October 8.
The Save Rumford Committee
Mark Belanger, chair;
Len Greaney, treasurer;
Phil Blampied, media coordinator