Budget angst brews unrest at Rumford board meeting

RUMFORD — Budget angst and unrest over taxes is giving selectmen heartburn.

Emotions roiled at a meeting this past week when newly re-elected Selectman Brad Adley said it had been "an interesting week," of which selectmen spent more than eight hours cutting the budget.

"It really sucked and I really mean that," Adley said. "It was bad, horrible ...The biggest disappointment was the group SAVE Rumford."

He was referring to a political activist group that urged residents to vote no on the municipal budget and picketed around town before and during the June 11 referendum.

"They want to save Rumford," Adley said, "but nobody came out to our meetings except one member. I've got to give Candace (Casey) credit. She was here every night. I didn't agree with everything she said." He said Casey commented on just about every line item and suggested ideas.

Adley railed against the rest of the group for not attending budget meetings and joining discussions.

"We got nothing from them, and I'm very disappointed," Adley said.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that he had heard Rumford is at a crossroads as a result of the budget unrest.

"I hate to see politics divide a community," he said. "Some of the (SAVE Rumford) picketers were mocking me and poking me with their signs. I've been accused of lying. It's been said that I'm not trusted any longer and that nobody wants to see me here anymore."

He added, "It's unfortunate, but I hope the people sitting in this room feel the same way I do. I know everyone loves this town and we may not love each other, but we should still try and get along in the best interest of this town."

Puiia said some townspeople might not approve of the budget cuts, but he urged everyone to move forward in a positive direction.

"The outside is looking in," he said. "Don't think they aren't, because they are. Don't let us squander this opportunity to remain a community."

He received a standing ovation and applause from some townspeople at the meeting.

Later, however, some of the more outspoken SAVE Rumford members, including Len Greaney, Mark Belanger, Phil Zinck and Casey, objected to Adley's comments, saying they did attend meetings and offered ideas that the board ignored and rejected.

All expressed frustration with selectmen that their concerns were not being heard. Casey said one selectman had even asked her not to send him any more emails.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Sun-Journal article worth selectmen's read...

I suggest the Rumford Selectmen and finance committee members read today's article in the Sun-Journal: "Cities delve back into budgets as state cuts loom". Certainly this revenue sharing situation has some reference to the Rumford budget.

Apologies

by the selectboard members need to be made to the taxpayers for statements relatiing to stupidity and ignorance. Instead they are chastising people who know where our taxes should be. This board is denting the facts. People finally want change. How are they treated for their vote? INDIGNANTLY by the board and town manager as well as the press. Mr. Karkos you have helped poor perfmance by those in powered to work for the town by assisting them to help protect their downfalls. Mr. Adley I do thank you for the call concerning my upcoming surgery no one else has. But to say that the Save Rumford group has not been represented at meetings is false. The chair has not given the group the opportunity to speak. Our spending cap request was legal, is legal but it was made through poor reporting and the board to be wrong. That would have been brought out at Thursdays meeting but was not allowed. The truth is not being allowed to be heard. Curb side service is a big scare tactic to get citizens to approve your cuts. It won't work . People know where cuts can be made that are realistic for Rumford. The board should have taken the bottom line figure of $6.2 million and worked to that figure. I did and came up with $5.9 million without losing curbside service. But being outnumbered by fellow board members of 4 to 1 votes my figure was never going to happen. If the proper budgets were presented in the first place the town would no doubt not be having the retaliation of GRCC. I know my figures had them included within the $5.9 millions. But for this years they will have to raise the monies to stay open. I have given my donation to that affect. By next year I'm hoping that the towns have decided to merge and the RSU has rescinded the agreement , foolish agreement, with Dirigo and we could all get our hands on a building for a better GRCC.

 's picture

Rumford and Mexico are in transition

The mill can't be counted on to provide a large portion of the taxes. The senior citizens live on a fixed income and almost make up a majority of voters. Both towns need to prioritize critical services as if the mill did not exist, the population will continue to shrink, and housing values decline. Then let the towns know what they will lose and let them decide.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Over 900 Rumford citizens voted no...

Over 900 Rumford citizens voted no on some budget articles. I understand there are only about 11 SAVE Rumford members. So it is clear that Rumford citizens said the budget was too high.

I do not think the whining of a Rumford Selectman and the town manager befits the dignity of their office.

I encourage Rumford Selectmen, the town manager and department heads to make the budget reductions work that citizens think are necessary. As a supervisor told us in the mill one time when a job was reduced on our crew: "Work a little harder. This is the new reality." We did. We had to if we wanted to keep our jobs.

 's picture

Cutting without a plan is a formula for failure

10% ( some other number) cuts across the board as some have proposed don't work. Politically it certainly doesn't work. Rumford and Mexico need a vision shared by each community that defines their priorities.

Phil Blampied's picture

Poking him with their signs?

The town manager's comments were bizarre. I'm not sure I heard him say "poking" Thursday night, but it was something similar. In fact, when he came out to chase the sign carriers away from the front of town hall last month, he had a very cordial conversation with an older couple who told him they had always liked him even if they disagreed politically. There was no poking or waving in his face or the other things he claimed Thursday night.

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