RUMFORD — Six Finance Committee members mirrored on Wednesday night what selectmen did Monday night in approving amounts for eight municipal budgets.
All but one article was approved unanimously.
By 6-0 votes, the committee OK'd raising and appropriating:
* $655,000 for the Fire Department budget.
* $738,774 for the Police Department.
* $922,030 for Public Works.
* $652,683 for Public Safety.
* $78,000 for General Assistance.
* $799,080 for General Government.
* $423,000 for Capital Accounts.
By a 5-1 vote, the committee approved $1,390,700 for Unclassified Accounts. Member Richard Greene dissented.
The proposed municipal budget was initially rejected by voters June 11. Then, eight of 12 budget articles were rejected July 23, forcing this week's meetings by selectmen and the Finance Committee.
At Wednesday night's Finance Committee meeting, fire Chief Bob Chase briefed the board on Monday night's selectmen meeting, then suggested they approve the same number as selectmen approved. The committee did without discussion.
Police Chief Stacy Carter did the same for his budget, saying that it would allow him to keep his second detective, who is paid hourly instead of salaried.
"It's important to get one number on the ballot to get a budget passed," he said.
In the past two elections on the budget, voters have a choice between the selectmen's recommendation and the Finance Committee's recommendation when they differ, and a third choice of neither of the above. More people have been voting for neither than voting for one of the two recommendations, defeating the article.
After voting, the committee moved on to Public Works. Committee member Jeremy Vashaw asked Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell how his department would work with the selectmen's new recommendation.
"We'll work with it as best we can," Russell said. "The hard part of this past winter is we had a lot of storms on weekends."
He said the $922,030 budget recommendation will mean reducing the amount of sand and salt that he buys. He is also contemplating taking a mechanic out of the shop and putting him to work driving a truck.
When asked if he would consider splitting his staff, Russell said that would only mean he'd either have five men plowing snow for four hours or 10 men plowing for two hours to cover the whole town.
He also said that his hands are tied by the union contract, which allows workers to take weekends off if they choose.
Russell said he doesn't favor splitting shifts.
Committee member Ted Hotham asked Russell if he is confident that his crews can keep the roads safe with the reduced budget.
"We should be, but it's going to be difficult, especially if we have a lot of freezing rain storms," Russell said.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia spoke for the rest of the budgets, briefing the committee on what led selectmen to recommend their numbers, and fielded questions.
When the committee reached the Unclassified Accounts budget, Puiia was asked if selectmen added money to help the Greater Rumford Community Center as the committee did previously for the July 23 vote.
Puiia said no.
Gary Dolloff, chairman of the community center's board of directors, then briefed the committee on current fundraisers, saying that since voters rejected funding the center, they have raised around $6,000. However, layoffs begin in two weeks. Then the center will reorganize and run on a volunteer basis.
He said they've got grant applications out and are trying to raise money. Dolloff then told the committee to go with the selectmen's amount, but add $124,300 into the contingency fund.
Hotham then asked Puiia to look into making the community center a part of the town and not fund it through the initiated articles process.
"Too many people have told me they didn't recognize the 'No' vote was a death knell for the community center," Hotham said.
He said the center is a valuable asset to the town and needs to be saved. He then motioned to go with the selectmen's amount without adding money into the contingency account and that was approved.