Charter panel eyeing duties, qualifications

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RUMFORD – A list of duties, qualifications and required training may be in the offing for people who serve on the Board of Assessors.

The Charter Commission devoted a significant amount of time Thursday night discussing the assessor’s agent’s duties and that of the three-person elected Board of Assessors.

Walter Buotte, chairman of the commission, asked for a delay on a decision on whether to require training for assessors until he can research if any offerings are available from the Maine Revenue Service.

The town charter written more than 50 years ago does not list assessor duties, nor does it require any training.

At last month’s meeting, the commission voted to recommend that all newly elected selectmen undergo board training from the Maine Municipal Association within a year of election. If they don’t, they’d forfeit their position. The commission also declined to recommend that term limits be established for selectmen.

That was one of the issues brought up by several residents when the commission formed last fall.

Newly appointed commission member Rob Cameron said Thursday night that he favored term limits for legislators when it was decided several years ago. Since then, the former state representative said he changed his mind, and not because he was forced out by the law.

“I changed my mind before then because it denies the public’s right to choice. It’s difficult to get people to run; it’s a disservice to the public to make them go away. I haven’t seen anything positive come out of term limits,” he said.

Commission member Linda French agreed.

“I’m very much opposed to term limits. If someone is willing to put in the time and effort, why limit them. It takes one or two terms to learn. It’s a very complicated job,” she said.

Buotte said the commission will tackle another controversial issue at its next meeting set for 6:30 p.m. Jan. 25. At that time, the commission will discuss, and possibly make a recommendation, on whether to continue with the practice of electing the town clerk and treasurer, tax collector and Board of Assessors.

Also new to Thursday’s meeting was Tom Rowe, a retired educator and high school principal. Rowe and Cameron replaced Eugene Boivin and Carlo Puiia, who resigned in November.

The commission is charged with making recommended changes and updating the town’s charter. Its draft will go before selectmen sometime later this year. The final decision will be made by a vote of residents.

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