Rumford board hacks budget

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

During Tuesday's Rumford Board of Selectmen special meeting to begin cutting the proposed municipal budget that voters rejected on June 11, police Capt. Daniel Garbarini, left, listens as Chief Stacy Carter tells Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina that his proposed $106,301 cut will mean the loss of a detective, closing the dispatch office and minimizing street patrols to two officers. Listening in the background, from left, are Terri Palmer, executive secretary, and Finance Director Deborah Laurinaitis.

RUMFORD — Selectmen took the voice of taxpayers who rejected their proposed $8 million municipal budget last week to heart Tuesday night.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Town Manager Carlo Puiia listens at right as Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina explains why he proposed Tuesday to cut more than $100,000 from the Police Department's budget. Selectmen are tasked with cutting their proposed $8 million municipal budget that voters rejected on June 11.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

A larger than usual crowd filled Rumford Falls Auditorium on Tuesday night during a special selectmen's meeting to reduce their proposed municipal budget to one that voters will accept. The previous $8 million budget was overwhelmingly rejected on June 11.

The board began work at a special meeting to hack out the town's "new reality," as Selectman Brad Adley called it. That new reality means job losses in municipal government.

Without taking any input from police Chief Stacy Carter on his proposed reduction, Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina proposed to cut Carter's budget to $711,355. That was a $106,301 reduction from the department's budget of $817,656 that failed to pass on June 11.

Selectman Jolene Lovejoy and Adley said they thought selectmen were going to listen to department heads propose budget reductions. Buccina said he was going to share his figures, which he then did.

Afterwards, Carter was asked to state how that would affect the police level of service. Carter said the department would lose a detective, a dispatcher and a utility officer and greatly reduce the department's effectiveness at combating drugs.

"I understand that, but personally, we need to get a budget that will pass," Buccina said. "I understand there will be a reduction in manpower, but we need to change the way we do things now."

He suggested looking at sharing police services with Oxford County and relying on mutual aid with Mexico.

Buccina said he wasn't being naive to the fact that jobs will be lost by budget cuts.

Newly elected Selectman Frank DiConzo said he'd rather just cut the police budget to $400,000 and let Chief Carter work out the details.

One woman said she didn't want to see the department lose a detective.

"There are more and more drugs coming into this town," she said. "It's easy to say 'cut 10 percent across the board' because of the situation this town is in. But because of suicides and drugs and kids on the streets, we need our police coverage," she said. "I want to feel safe in my home."

Buccina said the board has been mandated by the June 11 budget defeat to reduce the budget to a level taxpayers will support.

Selectman Jeff Sterling said the board all knew coming into the meeting that it would be cutting jobs. He said that with Buccina's proposal, it would mean only two officers on the street and one detective instead of two.

"Is it optimal? Probably not," he said. "We are going to do what we need to do in the town of Rumford with less people."

Carter said he needed to keep officers on the street to protect residents, the community and his own officers. He said they cannot rely on mutual aid from the county, state police or Mexico because they may not be available.

"We can't put people's safety in jeopardy," Carter said.

"I hear you," Buccina said. "Unfortunately, the people voted down the budget."

Buccina then said that taxpayers "suffering" through the reduced level of services next year might reconsider the budget cuts.

When asked if he had a proposal, Carter said $716,274. He said that would eliminate a detective and close the department's dispatch office.

The board then voted 1-4 against Buccina's proposed cut, then approved Carter's proposal of $716,274.

After almost as much discussion on the police budget for the animal control officer budget, selectmen eventually pared it from $26,994 to $23,563.

The board then reduced the fire department budget of $733,850 to fire Chief Bob Chase's proposal of $625,528. Chase said that would keep two men on shift who could only bring one truck to a fire. Then there would be a delay until enough manpower and equipment could be mustered either with the call force or mutual aid.

The board reduced the department's emergency management from $7,737 to $6,237, which Deputy Chief Richard Coulombe proposed.

Selectmen then launched into the Public Works budget. They pared sewer maintenance from $43,571 to $42,071 and cut the Summer Roads budget from $324,890 to Buccina's $280,910. Superintendent Andy Russell said that will mean the loss of one, possibly two jobs.

Winter Roads was cut from $615,332 to Buccina's figure of $458,250. That came despite voiced concern from Town Manager Carlo Puiia and Selectman Jolene Lovejoy that cutting too much from the budget means "putting a lot of people in danger."

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Tony Capola's picture

Some things never change

"...some people have fear drilled into them." is an interesting comment coming from a person that has done nothing but instill fear of the unknown in the people of Rumford for months.
One thing is constant Frank, you lack of proper spelling and the use of the appropriate word. The word is “scene” not “seen.”
What do you mean when you write “If they can’t do the job by state standard numbers then they shouldn’t be in law enforcement”?
If you knew anything about proper police tactics you’d understand that it’s appropriate for a law enforcement officer to have his or her hand on or near their weapon during even the most routine of traffic stops.
It’s obvious that you have never been in a situation where your life could be taken in a moment if you were not properly prepared. What makes you an authority on correct police procedure? How do you know that a traffic stop is “routine?” In the real world there are not "routine traffic stops."
Making blanket accusations about ALL police is unfair and misrepresents the facts. No profession is without people that, on occasion, act inappropriately. You’d understand that if you had a profession.
Because you and your ‘friends’ failed to be totally honest with the voters they failed to completely understand the consequences of voting “NO” on ALL budget items. Not one of you publically stated that such a vote would kill ALL initiated articles until 2014... hence the situation with the GRCC and Black Mountain.
I hope all of you are proud!
By the way; do you intend to cash your paycheck for performing your "civic duty" as a selectman?

John Moro's picture

i dont see where the police

i dont see where the police are combatting drugs . there are drug deals daily in rumford in the streets

Ed McCaffrey's picture

It's really not my place

to speak to this issue anymore, since I am no longer a Rumford resident, but given the fact that Rumford and Mexico are like Siamese twins, what affects one, affects the other.
There are many Mexico residents who work in Rumford and vice versa and all of these people rely on the services that both of these towns provide. The school Departments are merged, the fire and police departments support each other, recreational activities for our children are handled by both towns as if they were one... Isn't it time that all of our services merged to create one viable entity?
If the towns merged completely the tax base would expand and everyone could take advantage of the the funds that the paper mill and the power plants provide.
There are many advantages to such a merger and very few disadvantages. This age old need to look at these towns as two separate entities has got to end. It ended for many of the younger people in our towns back in the 80s when the schools merged, and they no longer harbor that feeling of competition that was so much a part of our (older people) upbringing.
Time is suppose to bring progress, but all I see here is stagnation...

Tony Capola's picture

Police comments

It is logical to assume that anyone that focuses their ire on how the police function is likely to have, at some point in time, "harassed" for what they call minor violations. To be held accountable for one’s actions is not harassment.

There's no such thing as a minor violation. You break the law it called a 'violation', period. The offense may be categorized as ‘minor’ but a violation is a violation.

Traffic and drug laws are not there to be ignored unless one feels above the law. The police, as officers-of-the-court, are required to enforce any law occurring in their presence or there is evidence that a law has been broken.

Removing a detective is more likely to result in LESS enforcement of the more serious offenses. You take away the tools you take away the production.

This would seem to countermand any comment that such action will likely result in increased prosecution for what some would consider to be more significant offenses.

Mark Belanger's picture

Does not look like the select

Does not look like the select board got the message from 2/3 of the Rumford voters last week. They wanted substanial cuts and changes in the way Rumford delivers it's sevices. This is just dancing around the playing the voters as fools. If this comes to a vote we need to again give it a resounding

No they are not

going to listen. Good thing we kept the signs. Wouldn't even considered Sheriff coverage. The people have fear drilled into them. Why can't they stop the drilling? If they can't do the job by state standard numbers then they shouldn't be in law enforcement. Starts at the top. Why does it take 3 cruisers for routine traffic stop. Why does the 3rd one on seen walk up to the car with his hand on his gun and intimidate? Things of this sort do happen. Wish people who have been harrassed would step up. Sheriffs don't harass they protect. And look at surplus amounts in the highway budgets. Unfund for a year. I hope people speak up again. We need a spending cap.

Eric  LeBlanc's picture

Maybe now the police will

Maybe now the police will stop harassing citizens for minor traffic violations and marijuana possession and shift their focus to crimes that actually have victims.


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