Auditor: Rumford finances 'rock solid'

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Auditor Ron Smith tells Rumford officials Thursday night that thanks to the town's financial planning, it's in much better shape than the state of Maine.

RUMFORD — Officials learned Thursday night from the town auditor that Rumford's financial future is "rock solid."

In fact, auditor Ron Smith told Jeff Sterling, acting chairman of the Board of Selectmen, Town Manager Carlo Puiia, and Selectmen Brad Adley and Jolene Lovejoy that the town's financial planning is much better than Maine's.

Smith said that as of June 30, 2012, Rumford had assets totalling a little more than $7 million and an obligation of about $350,000, leaving a surplus, or fund balance, of $6.65 million. Of that, $3.6 million was undesignated.

Smith said the town is on a solid financial footing. He credited revenue projections coming in at a much higher amount than anticipated. When asked why by Adley, Smith attributed that to excise taxes and people buying new cars.

He said Rumford's excise tax revenues came in about $240,000 over budget.

Smith credited the town with planning for the future.

"This town's got a lot of presence and wherewithal to look to the future and you're very wise to do that," Smith said. "You're in a good position to weather any storms that are out there, like the uncertainty in Augusta. I think the town of Rumford is rock-solid, financially."

Puiia mentioned a political advertisement in Wednesday's issue of the Rumford Falls Times that was paid for by political activist group Save Rumford.

Sterling, in his "selectperson's report" earlier in the meeting, read the ad's allegations and debunked many of the claims.

Puiia said the group insinuated in the ad that Rumford has "pockets of money that nobody knows about." He said that isn't true and Smith's audit reveals that.

"I think we're very transparent with these kinds of things, don't you agree?" Puiia asked.

"Absolutely," Smith said.

Sterling attributed the 'misinformation' to political rhetoric.

"We are in a political season now where the rhetoric gets a little heated, perhaps a little flamboyant," Sterling said.

Repeating one comment at Monday night's annual town business meeting that was cut short, Sterling said someone mentioned that Rumford is headed into a financial crisis, "characterized as a fiscal apocalypse."

"I don't hear from your assessment that that's on the horizon," he told Smith.

"No, it's not," Smith said. "I think it's fair to say that the state is headed for a fiscal crisis right now, a fiscal apocalypse, which is a credit to (Rumford) that you are in a much better fiscal state.

"Like I said, Rumford has put itself in a good position to weather any storms," he said. It's "a busy town with a vision."

Mentioning news he's heard about economic development work and efforts by groups such as Envision Rumford to grow business and interest in the town, Smith credited the town with moving forward.

"Neighbors are moving in, so obviously, people are seeing something in Rumford," he said.

After the meeting adjourned, Puiia credited previous town officials with helping to put Rumford on solid financial ground.

"It reflects a lot of groundwork that was laid for a number of years by past boards and past town managers and recommendations made by former auditors," he said.

"So the board is pleased that the audit has come back with the view that the town has made good financial planning a priority despite the economic times that maybe worried some people about their local government, that as the auditor quoted, 'We'll be able to respond to instead of react,'" Puiia said.

"It doesn't eliminate the concern we have about the (paper) mill and the economy that it supports. Nonetheless though, the report as a whole shows, as I asked that question, that we are being transparent and we're following what we've been instructed to do," he said.

"Again, I think the board is very pleased with the results and I could tell the auditor is very supportive of what we do," Puiia said. "We have an excellent finance director who does a very good job, so, yeah, I'm very pleased."

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Dan McKay's picture

The auditor is describing a

The auditor is describing a snapshot of current finances, ignoring the conditions that will occur with a lower value assessment of the mill, a reduction in state revenue sharing, a reduction in state education subsidy. This all means the impending tax burden will be on small property owners. It is easy to disclose only the facts that make the select board/ town manager look good. The tax bills tell the real facts. A communist tactic is to so burden the citizens with taxes, that power of the people is eliminated.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Is that Rick from Pawn Stars?

Is that Rick from Pawn Stars? I bet he has a buddy who's an expert on dying mill towns.

Phil Blampied's picture

Sterling refuted the ad? Huh.

Wish we had more detail on that. Let's see, what did the ad say?

Did he debunk the fact that we can't afford a 20 to 50 percent property tax increase? I could see him doing that as he seems to think the Rumford taxpayers have plenty of money to spare. Did he debunk the fact that the town needs to help keep the mill open by lowering their tax bill? Then he wasn't listening when the mill managers came to town hall to plead for exactly that. Oh, wait a minute, of course he wasn't listening...

Did he dispute the fact that 26 town employees made more than $50,000 (add benefits to that) last year? Did he dispute the fact that the town manager showed a disrespect for the First Amendment by chasing away leafletters? Did he dispute the fact that you can go into any coffee shop in the area and hear people talk openly about ways the town could stop wasting money? Did he dispute the fact that the town may not get revenue sharing this year? Did he dispute the fact that there are far too many people on the town payroll? What the heck did he dispute? Were his fingers crossed as he was speaking?

By the way, there was no reference to "pockets of money" in the ad.

I'd suggest readers get the latest issue of the Rumford Falls Times and read the ad for themselves.

As for the bookkeeping, yes, the town manager is an excellent bookkeeper. You can keep great books and still run an enterprise into the ground.

Mark Belanger's picture

Head in the sand

Of course Rumford has assets. Look at all the new equipment we buy every year and the buildings we own. That is not all cash assets. What about the monies that are carried over from each department for the next fiscal year. There is no planning on the part of the board for any future down tick in tax revenues from the mill. There plan is to pass the bill on to us the taxpayers. Not a good plan. Please vote no on June 11th for the future on Rumford.


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