RUMFORD — It took more than nine hours this week, but selectmen cut nearly $1 million from the budget that voters overwhelmingly rejected at the June 11 town meeting referendum.
The board's new proposed municipal budget, minus initiated articles, is $6,526,077. That's a difference of $994,955 from the defeated budget of $7,521,032, excluding initiated articles and $326,077 more than the $6.2 million some citizens proposed as a budget cap.
Initiated articles are requests for funding donations, usually to social services. Because all but four of them were defeated on June 11, there is no recourse per town law for a re-vote.
Selectmen finished their budget work from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Thursday night. People arriving early for the board's regular meeting at 7 p.m. got to listen to some of the discussion.
Following a discussion on the $515,000 Solid Waste line item in the defeated Health and Sanitation budget, Selectman Brad Adley motioned to raise and appropriate $372,000.
"This will end curbside pickup," he said of the lower figure.
Then he added a sarcastic dig aimed at the SAVE Rumford political activist group that urged voters to defeat the board's initially proposed budget and are trying to implement a tax relief spending cap.
"We've got to save Rumford, you know," Adley said to a smattering of applause.
As for the other two line items in the Health and Sanitation budget, selectmen cut $140 from their initially proposed $120,000 for the Health Department, rendering it $119,860. They also cut $1,500 from the Sewer Maintenance line item of $43,571, rendering that $42,071.
The new Health and Sanitation budget is now $533,931, a difference of $144,640 from the defeated budget of $678,571.
Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina then stressed to the growing audience of about 75 people that selectmen "put forward a budget and it was voted down, so we are reducing our level of services to get voters to approve a budget."
By 4-0 tallies, the board pared $3,250 from the initially proposed $27,000 Municipal Planning line item in the Public Service budget, rendering that as $23,750, and reduced the Charter Commission line item from $3,000 to $1,500.
By a 3-1 tally, selectmen pared $8,000 from the defeated Debt Service budget of $156,685, rendering that as $148,685. The board had put $48,000 into the budget to pay interest on a bond should a business move into the Puiia Business Park and seek help.
By the same tally, the board then cut $88,146 from the defeated Capital Accounts budget of $511,146, rendering it as $423,000. They did not state what would be cut to achieve that reduction. Desired improvements included those to police, fire, Public Works, and Parks and Recreation equipment, a sewer extension, the library building and other town properties.
Selectmen then cut $109,300 from the $1,375,700 for Social Security/Insurance, rendering the new budget as $1,266,400 under Unclassified, then didn't reduce the original request of $15,000 in the Contingency line item.
In the board's regular meeting, Selectman Jeff Sterling attempted to add money into a miscellaneous account of the Parks and Recreation budget that could then be awarded to a bidder.
Even though he didn't name the bidder, it was generally perceived as an attempt to overcome the initiated article process, wherein funding requests for the Greater Rumford Community Center were defeated on June 11.
Now it's up to the Finance Committee to meet with department heads, starting at 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 25, to determine its new budget recommendations for defeated budgetary articles.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Friday afternoon that the Finance Committee could offer voters a choice by adding funding to restore curbside waste pickup and adding a line item to the Parks budget to fund the community center.
Once the Finance Committee determines its recommendation, a public hearing will be held before a special town meeting is convened, possibly on July 23, to vote on the new budget.