Rumford Finance Committee recommends $7.17M as new municipal budget

RUMFORD — The Finance Committee met for six hours on Tuesday night and completed its work to create a new municipal budget recommendation of $7,171,500.

That's a 5 percent cut from its previous recommendation of $7,508,851 in the budget that town meeting referendum voters defeated on June 11. That vote also defeated the Board of Selectmen's initial municipal budget recommendation of $7,521,032.

Last week, selectmen hacked roughly 14 percent off their initial budget to present a second proposed budget of $6,526,077. The Finance Committee's new budget is $645,423 higher than the selectmen's second budget, giving voters a choice.

Committee members on Tuesday night added $169,000 to the contingency fund under Unclassified Accounts, whereas selectmen left it at $15,000.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia explained the changes early Wednesday afternoon, adding that the Finance Committee can only approve a bottom-line figure.

He said the committee's intent was to put $118,000 into contingency to provide enough operations money for the Greater Rumford Community Center to get through the year and another $51,000 for Black Mountain Ski Resort operations.

The GRCC's initiated articles requests for funding and the ski hill's request, were defeated at the polls on June 11. There is no recourse, due to a previous charter change.

The GRCC's operating budget of $138,100 was defeated 657-829, and its summer programs funding request of $22,720 was rejected by a tally of 607-845.

Puiia said that based on comments made Tuesday night by GRCC Chairman Gary Dolloff, the $118,000 added to the contingency fund by the Finance Committee would provide the center with enough funding to get through the year. But it would not solve the center's Summer Programs crisis.

Black Mountain's initiated article was defeated 497-939.

Puiia said the intent of the committee's debate was to restore funding to the GRCC and Black Mountain via the contingency account through the bidding process. According to Rumford's Charter, anything over $2,000 must be put out to bid.

It remains unclear just how the center and Black Mountain will try to get that money should voters approve the Finance Committee's budget recommendations next month.

"As I said last night, we're chartering new waters when you get to something of this nature," Puiia said.

Other Finance Committee recommendations for the new budget are:

* $799,080 for general government, down $62,184 from its initial number of $861,264.

* $761,274 for the Police Department, down $56,382 from its initial recommendation of $817,656.

* $687,877 for the Fire Department, down $36,950 from $724,827.

* $663,752 for public safety, down $27,131 from $690,883.

* $662,931 for health and sanitation, down $15,640 from $678,571.

* $969,910 for Public Works, down $165,059 from $1,134,969.

* $82,000 for General Assistance, down $1,137 from $83,137.

* $225,000 for Rumford Public Library, which is the same as the committee's initial recommendation in the defeated budget.

* $219,960 for public service, down $14,053 from its initial recommendation of $234,013.

* $148,685 for debt service and interest, down $8,000 from $156,685.

* $460,031 for capital accounts, down $51,115 from $511,146.

The only budget that the Finance Committee increased instead of decreased was unclassified accounts. The committee increased that by $100,300 to $1,491,000 from its initial recommendation of $1,390,700.

At 5:30 p.m. Friday, June 28, selectmen will convene their annual End of the Year meeting in Rumford Falls Auditorium. Rumford's year runs from July 1 through June 30 of the following year.

At that meeting, the board will approve a date for a public hearing on the new municipal budgetary recommendations and establish secret poll election dates.

In other municipal news, the town office will be closing at noon on Friday, June 28, for the fiscal year ending closing of books.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Phil Blampied's picture

Lewiston mayor councilors favor higher taxes to cover state cuts

That's the headline, folks, from a community which made no effort at budget restraint despite the obvious hardships on the horizon.

In Rumford, the town has been forced, kicking and screaming, to make a modest, adult and sensible reduction in its budget. As if we had some kind of foresight and wisdom, we did this before the current state budget came out. And, as a result, no such headline will appear for our town. It makes us look wise and responsible in comparison. We are a forward looking town, able to anticipate the challenges ahead and prepare for them before things become urgent. (Ahem.)

(Let's not mention the crying, name calling, screaming and hysterics that accompanied the birth of this wisdom. Let's just celebrate the wisdom.)

Look, all Save Rumford did is ask for a budget reduction. We didn't ask that the town hall be closed and business be conducted out of the back of a truck. We asked, essentially, that the selectboard do what, in fact, they were talking about doing anyway before the budget season began.

Services will be cut if the administrators aren't competent to continue to maintain services with a modest budget reduction.

Hey, they feel they need to end curbside garbage collection, but they haven't talked about touching a dime of the salaries and benefits of the 26 employees who made more than $50,000 last year. If services are cut, it's because of bad choices made by the administrators.

So why the hysterics about this? I would suggest it comes from an entitled state of mind, where it is assumed that there are always more taxes to collect, that the recipients are entitled to every tax dollar they receive, and that most of the taxes are going to be paid by the mill anyway. Those with this point of view are suffering from a painful reality shift as they discover that the overwhelming majority of their fellow townspeople quite reasonably don't share this same fantasy.

Jack Kaubris's picture

Consequences, consequences

As stated previously, there are consequences to each of the budgets. Someone said that he could 'easily' cut the budget by 30%, and when asked about the consequences to his 'easy' cuts, all he could offer were to cut services on a few quiet nights in November or some such silliness. It is 'easy' to cut services that you no longer use, such as cutting out all recreational opportunities for the town's children when your own children have already grown up and no longer need them. That takes a lot of courage. But God forbid if a budget cut should have an impact on a service that you do use, like eliminating trash pickup. Then the response from the Destroy Rumford group gets quite hysterical... why it's like... it's like... they are 'spitting in our face'! 'We didn't mean for you selectmen to cut services that affect us! We only want you to cut services that we no longer need. Like recreation and education. The audacity!'
The selectmen and finance committee have offered budgets that provide a choice to the voters. It is important to listen to the department heads and see what the consequences for each budget will be and vote according to what you think is the best for the town. These budgets have been discussed in public forums and there are no shenanigans going on. The only people trying to 'pull off' something here are the people who are spreading half-truths and misinformation. Educate yourself on what the consequences are to each budget and vote knowing what the consequence will be.

Phil Blampied's picture

Brilliant

What a temperate, well-reasoned argument. Were your eyes bulging and your face beet red when you scribbled this bit of brilliance?

Jack Kaubris's picture

Why, thank you, Phil.

Actually this bit of brilliance came after a Frank Diconzo lesson on 'How to Make Friends and Influence People'. Is it working for you?

Phil Blampied's picture

Brilliant

What a temperate, well-reasoned argument. Were your eyes bulging and your face beet red when you scribbled this bit of brilliance?

Jack Kaubris's picture

Gee, thanks again Phil.

I guess this makes me twice as brilliant?

Phil Blampied's picture

Yes

Yes

Phil Blampied's picture

Yes

Yes

no longer a low information voter

"From the comments I'm hearing, an educated vote is not what the "Save Rumford" group wants." Yes a educated vote is important and I hope you and other voters do research before voting . First I support GRCC , BMOM, and I knew what might happen when i voted , But how can vote for them and other request when over 80% of the operating budget goes to pay and benefits ? I would have voted yes if there was a 3 % cut in the budget and the selectmen would have told dept. heads and groups that next year expect more cuts and plan for that. We must start getting serious about the town spending , I am in favor of combine services and outsourcing other. Yes a olive branch and leadership is what we need not back door deals.

Richard Greene's picture

"Save Rumford" has been so negative about the town.

How many in this group has worked to make this town a better place instead of just constantly blasting us with negativity? Maybe they have tried to make the town better and if so, great. I just haven't seen much from them except to cut services of the town.

I know an awful lot of people that do work every day to make the town a better place for all of us. They volunteer in children's programs, do community service work, get involved to help out the library, Black Mountain, the GRCC, Relay for life and countless other things.

I'm putting out an olive branch to the "Save Rumford" group. If indeed you really do want to save Rumford, come to Black Mountain tonight at 6:30 and get involved in the community's effort to save this incredible gift we have in our town. Get involved in the fund raising efforts of the GRCC. They have a softball game fundraising event on July 4th at 9:00. There are a hundred positive things you can do to make this town better. Come join us.

Richard Greene's picture

The only one trying get around the voters is "Save Rumford"

The "Save Rumford" group didn't tell the voters what would happen if they chose their "vote no on everything" message. Many people have told me that they wished they would have known this before they voted. Now that they know, they have an option of keeping some of the things that they may want, like recreation and curbside pickup. It's totally up to them what amounts they vote for and what services they want for services.

If people don't want to support the local recreation and curbside garbage pick up then they should vote for the selectman's amount. If they want recreation opportunities and garbage pickup, vote the Finance Committee's recommendation. Now that voter's know what they are voting on, they can make an educated choice. The voters are completely in charge here.

From the comments I'm hearing, an educated vote is not what the "Save Rumford" group wants.

Phil Blampied's picture

Not enough of a cut

What has been lost in the recent angry reaction to the defeat of specific articles by the voters is why the budget had to be cut in the first place.

Rumford in recent years has already lost over 15 percent of its tax base. With the uncertainty at the mill, that reduction is likely to continue. Every time a house or a business is abandoned or foreclosed for nonpayment of property taxes, the tax base shrinks further.

Rumford is down to less than half of its former peak population.

Unemployment here has at times been the highest in the state.

New Page management made it clear that a reduced tax bill was critical to their remaining open. If they downsize or close, the tax base will shrink even faster and unemployment will rise even more.

The state may or may not send revenue sharing this year.

The only sane course in all of this is to trim spending and reduce the tax burden on those of us who are left, and on what's left of the tax base.

The selectboard budget, in the mid 6 millions, is in the range of what the town needs to avoid eventual financial collapse. The finance committee budget is not enough.

Voters understood all that in the first election. Now they've been hammered by angry rhetoric from those who were denied their usual guaranteed gift from the town, and we'll have to see what effect that has.

Mark Belanger's picture

I hope the citizens of

I hope the citizens of Rumford are aware of what the Town officials are trying to pull off here. They are trying to get around the will of the voters by funding Black Mountain and GRCC thru article 17 on the ballot. A 6.2 million dollar budget would give you a mil rate of around 19.3. This finance board number will make it much higher with no plan if the paper mill's valuation changes. This is not a good number. I hope people will consider voteing for the selectmen's number which is 6.5 million.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

How does this budget....

relate to last year's Rumford budget? Up, hold the line or down. Do not measure this budget by this year's requests.

What is the mil rate going to be? Taxes are the issue. The reduction of the mil rate is the issue.

How are the reductions in the recently passed Maine state budget going to affect Rumford?

What is Rumford's revenue sharing from the state going to be? How much less than last year?

And, the contingency fund that was increased for the GRCC and Black Mountain by the finance committee is "politics as usual" which many cannot tolerate.

Again, what is the mil rate? This is the issue.

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