Rumford Finance Committee OKs more than $263K for initiated article requests

RUMFORD — The Finance Committee on Thursday night recommended a total of $263,085 for social service, civic, economic and other groups for the 2013-14 municipal budget.

They also set a precedent by approving amounts from the previous year's budgets for agencies that didn't send a representative to lobby for funding. In a few instances, committee members themselves spoke up for the groups.

No one spoke on behalf of the American Legion's Boys and Girls State programs, although committee members said both programs greatly benefit area youth. Committee member Louanne Cameron said she participated in Girls State and spoke highly of its benefits.

By 5-0 tallies, the group unanimously agreed to recommend $275 for each program. Members Christopher Carver, Jeremy Vashaw, Jeffrey Roy and Harold MacDonnell were absent.

The board tabled action on Community Concepts, thinking that a representative would arrive later, but none did. They took it up after the other requests.

Craig Zurhorst of Western Maine Transportation Services spoke on behalf of Community Concepts. But committee member Ted Hotham said that because the committee had set a precedent of recommending donations to organizations that didn't send a lobbyist, they should approve something.

Community Concepts has administered the Community Development Block Grants Rumford has received.

Selectmen last month pared Community Concepts' initial request of $3,000 to $1,500 and approved that. The committee unanimously OK'd recommending the lower amount.

Members also went with the selectmen's recommendation of $5,500 for the Hope Association, which had a representative lobby on its behalf.

When no one stood to represent the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee and present a request, Town Manager Carlo Puiia told the committee that John Kezal of the agency had asked selectmen for $175 last month. However, when the board voted not to fund it, Kezal asked for a higher amount and it died for the lack of a second.

The committee unanimously approved $175.

The committee went with the selectmen's recommendation of $2,000 for Safe Voices, formerly known as the Abused Women's Advocacy Project, after Jill Brown, director of the Lewiston-Auburn shelter, spoke on its behalf. She said they had originally requested $4,000 at the selectmen's hearing, but asked for $2,000 at the committee hearing.

Brown said that last year, Safe Voices helped 86 victims from Rumford and educated 770 people at public schools on bullying and how to have healthy relationships. Of the 770, 44 percent were from Rumford.

For the River Valley Growth Council, which originally requested $12,000 and selectmen OK'd $6,000, the committee approved $8,000.

By a 4-1 vote, they OK'd the Greater Rumford Community Center's request of $138,100, which selectmen OK'd by a 3-2 tally.

The committee also OK'd $22,720 for the GRCC's Summer Program.

Selectmen had approved Black Mountain of Maine's request for $51,000 and the committee did the same after listening to Roger Arsenault, the ski area's board president, speak on its behalf. He said the ski area is an important economic engine for Rumford and the committee agreed.

The committee also voted to recommend:

* $1,250 for Holy Savior School textbooks (the request was $2,500), the $1,500 request for required testing, and $550 for the school's health services.

* $4,000 for Rumford Senior Citizens

* $3,200 for Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice

* $4,500 for Tri-County Mental Health.

* $2,500 for Oxford County Mental Health ($1,000 less than requested).

* $3,500 for Seniors Plus ($1,500 less than requested).

* $1,750 for River Valley Healthy Communities ($750 less than requested)

* $3,000 for American Red Cross

* $1,000 for River Valley Animal Advocates

* $1,540 for Chisholm Ski Club (Chairman Dieter Kreckel and Hotham abstained because they're members)

* $750 for Rumford Group Home ($250 less than requested)

* $2,000 for Western Maine Transportation, after Zurhorst asked for $2,000 instead of their original request of $3,000 due to economic conditions.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Finance Committee Chairman Dieter Kreckel, in back from left, and committee members Louanne Cameron and Ted Hotham vote Thursday night to recommend donating $2,000 to Safe Voices. Jill Brown, at right foreground, spoke for the agency.

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Comments

Mark Belanger's picture

WOW.... Very sad. See what

WOW.... Very sad. See what happens when you have other peoples money to spend...
Can you say spending cap!!!!!

Gayle Sirois's picture

The Poor Paying the Rich

In this difficutly economic time, every dollar counts. I think it's wrong for this town to fund any amount to the Catholic school.

"... The Catholic church is the biggest financial power, wealth accumulator and property owner in existence..." (Daily Paul)

In 2012, the Church readily spent 2 million dollars to fight marriage equality, but it cannot fund one of its schools?

If an Islamic school approached the town for help to educate its 50 students, would the select board and finance committee so readily approve $3,300? Likely not.

If the Catholic Church, probably the wealthiest institution in the world, cannot fund its own school, perhaps the school should close.

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