Rumford Town Manager says 'family's happiness' was primary reason for resignation

RUMFORD — A week after Town Manager Carlo Puiia officially resigned from his position, he said that his primary reason in doing so was “to focus more on his family's happiness and safety.”

Following an executive session at the Sept. 19 selectmen's meeting, the board unanimously voted to accept Puiia's resignation. In his resignation letter, he wrote that his decision to resign was “a personal one,” and one that was “based primarily on family values.”

In an interview Thursday, Puiia explained that “the Town Manager job has a demand to attend a lot of meetings, appear at a number of functions, many of them on the weekends.

“I guess I realized that I have another 13 years or so to work, and I felt that my family's happiness and safety came first,” Puiia said. He said that his family was “not surprised” at his decision and were “very supportive and optimistic.”

“Before I officially resigned, I called all seven of my siblings and my mother,” Puiia said. “I wanted my immediate family to know about it first before it became public. Later, I told the board about it, and while they were surprised, they said they understood and accepted it.”

As for the future, Puiia said he has yet to solidify any plans. “I really don't have any specific goals set for the type of employment I'll seek,” Puiia said. “I'll be going through that process very soon, though.”

Puiia's resignation comes at a time when the town has yet to pass a budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

Voters originally turned down all 12 money articles on June 11 at the annual town meeting. They totaled $7.5 million. Selectmen cut $1 million from the next budget, which was presented July 23. The Finance Committee reduced their proposed budget to $7.2 million.

At that referendum, eight of the 12 budget articles were rejected.

The Board of Selectmen reduced each budget article and in a third budget vote on Aug. 27, voters rejected the eight budget articles again.

Puiia said that the budget process did not play a huge role in his decision to resign.

“I would say that the budget certainly played a small part in my decision, but it's not the primary reason,” Puiia explained. “Like anybody that decides to leave a position, there are a number of reasons, but primarily, it's my family that holds the most weight right now over anything else.”

Puiia added that he's heard comments from people stating that they are “disappointed” in his decision, but that “they also have an understanding of why I made that decision.”

Before being appointed Town Manager in June 2009, Puiia served as the town's tax collector for 13 years, and worked as a self-employed tax prepairer before that.

“While I was tax collector, I became very interested in the Town Manager position and wanted the opportunity to try and serve in that position,” Puiia said. “I'm extremely grateful that I had that opportunity.”

Despite submitting his resignation, Puiia told the Board of Selectmen that he would stay in his position for up to 90 days while they search for a replacement.

Even so, Puiia said that resigning has given him the chance to reflect on his four years as Town Manager.

“It's been a process the whole way,” Puiia said. “You learn about the job based on customer service, on communication, and you learn that it's also about being fair and treating people respectfully. In fact, I feel those are some of the basic principles of life, whether you're a stock boy or a Town Manager.”

“I've prided myself on trying to reflect well in the public eye,” Puiia continued. “I think I did a pretty good job at that, and hopefully, I can continue to uphold that. I know there are some people out there blaming me for things, but I've talked with a lot of people in the Save Rumford group and they're wonderful people. I harbor no ill will or resentment towards them. I am, however, disappointed in their leadership. The three leaders in that group have been, in my opinion, irresponsible and disrespectful, and have brought politics to a new low, which is unfortunate.”

Puiia later said that he'd always appreciate the community and the connection he shared with them.

“When you work in an environment for 17 years, you make a lot of good, productive relationships,” Puiia said. “You hate to see it end, but everyone realizes that we're all individuals and we all have our reasons.”

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

We must work together...

Let us accept the upcoming vote on the budget and work with the decision.

Vote your conscience - if you win, win with dignity. If you lose, lose with dignity.

Let us stop hacking at each other and baiting each other - and that includes me.

We must improve Rumford - that is the goal of all of us, isn't it? I think we have to work together to improve our community.

We must first accept the fact that we and our leaders have not done well improving Rumford in the past and we must now begin to make different decisions that are successful.

Let me repeat: let us stop hacking at each other and baiting each other.

Let us make a real effort to work together for the sake of our community.

What do you say, Tony?

Tony Capola's picture

Give it a rest

Carlo Puiia does not deserve to be vilified on his way out the door. Personal attacks are ill-advised and uncalled-for.

It does not surprise anyone that Carlo is not being treated with the respect he deserves. You may not have always agreed with his position on some things or his actions on others but nothing he did warrants him being insulted. You got what you wanted and clearly expressed on numerous occasions and with petitions.

Take your "winnings" and please leave quietly.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

More...

should be written by a reporter when a person demeans others as Carlo did in this article. He is not saying what went on behind closed doors that the newspaper could not or did not present. I will respect his intelligence by encouraging him to tell the truth. But, this is politics, that the Sun-Journal reporter and editor elected to support.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Time...

for Carlo Puiia to leave the town manager's position. But, he did not respond well to the pressure of the citizens' budget rejections which I and most people think was the major reason he resigned in the middle of that situation. Not everyone responds well to such pressure. He was in the wrong place at the wrong time, unfortunately, for himself. One must understand that the selectmen do have a role in a town manager's success or failure and they responded poorly to the budget rejections by citizens, possibly placing more pressure on the Puiia.

While he and I opposed each other in certain directions, I personally wish him well in the future. He was a very good tax collector for the town which was a position that did not present the pressures that a town manager's position can

Good luck to you, Carlo Puiia.

Brad Gallant's picture

OK Candice....

Could this be a little more over-dramatic? Telling you that you are a liar is not Puiia threatening you. Defending himself when people lie about him or twist his words is also not threatening.

Phil Blampied's picture

Is this the most constructive way to explain what happened?

Hey, Sun Journal, the community deserves a more thoughtful story.

Phil Blampied's picture

Basic journalism

What threats to his family's safety?

What three leaders of Save Rumford?

What did they say and why was it not true?

Brad Gallant's picture

Tisk, Tisk...

Give it a rest Phil...you were probably steaming so much at the word "safety" that you barely absorbed half the article. It never stated his familes safety was threated; in fact please re-read and find the word "threat" in the article for me. He said, “to focus more on his family's happiness and safety.” I focus on my families safety and happiness; it seems like a natural thing to me.

Three leader: I would have to assume You, Mark Belanger, and Candice Casey since he was speaking about them in a negative way. Just my guess; I could be wrong.

What unthruths were told...unfortunatley there is probably a limit to how many words can be typed in these posts so that question won't be able to be addressed since every opportunity the "Save Rumford" group had to distort what Puiia had said they made some sort of distortion. At least Tom Fallon can have enough respect for someone to wish them well and move on.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Filling in my blanks...

Since you have continued...

I wish Carlo or any person well who leaves a job when stress is obviously a factor. I do not wish anyone bad fortune in such a situation. That may mean I wish them to change or find work that would be without such stress.

I did not believe that Carlo was suitable for the town manager's job from the beginning although I changed my mind at a later date. During the budget problems, I think it was obvious, Carlo, as well as the selectmen, (who may have been part of his problem), were not responding to citizens as they should have, creating more negativity and opposition in citizens, "shooting themselves in the foot," and helping to defeat the budget. The newspapers have presented some of Carlo's and the selectmen's problems, sometimes in his and their own words, (and I have also been party to some of those problems out of the press' earshot.)

If you had not replied, you would not have continued the negativity of the budget situation.

I do not understand why you and others haven't realized that a budget defeated three times by citizens is a very strong message, one that should have been considered the second time it was defeated.

Again, I do sincerely wish Carlo well in the future, despite our disagreements.

Tony Capola's picture

Wishes of the citizens

To declare that the outcome of the voting since June is truly reflective of what the 'citizens' expect is a huge stretch.

A small minority of the registered voters have decided to listen to an even smaller group of individuals that purport to "speak the truth." In reality the silent majority have taken themselves out of the equation.

Each voting cycle is so poorly attended it is unreasonable to say that the outcome is reflective of of anything other them voter apathy. Far too many are willing to vote as directed or not vote at all leaving you and others to claim that the outcome is reflective of the will of the entire citizenry.

In each instance when the ballot warrant is scheduled to be discussed and citizens are afforded an opportunity to ask questions or expect explanations practically no one attends. Apparently the majority doesn’t give a damn.

If those that do vote decide to follow the “Save Rumford” pied-pipers over the cliff like lemmings it means the rest are left to suffer the consequences.

Bottom-Line: We get the kind of government we deserve.

If everyone approached this obligation with knowledge and forethought the outcome would likely be much different. Because so many are complacent, the purveyors of untruth are allowed to apply their skills.

So don’t presume to speak for the citizens of Rumford in-total because, so far, they have not voted.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

What percentage of the majority votes...

What percentage of the majority vote during any election in Rumford?

Be honest, Tony, your point is really that the budgets have been defeated, not that the majority have not voted. You would not be pointing out that the majority are not voting if the first or second budget had passed.

And, no one told anyone in Rumford not to vote. I have never heard any SAVE Rumford member in person or when they attended meetings or when they broadcast print information or advertised in the newspaper ever say that Rumford citizens should not vote. The group wanted people to vote. The selectmen and the finance committee wanted people to vote.

If you look at Rumford, if you are honest, you will have to admit at least to yourself that we who have voted have gotten a clearly depressed economy even though we spent what the selectmen and finance committee wanted year after year. And one problem is a serious loss of population which is still continuing week after week as I read obituaries and listen to the mournful church bells. Another is reduced jobs at the paper mill. Black Mountain, the town's economic developers, have not moved the economy forward as they have promised year after year.

Your point has no meaning except on paper. You are avoiding the true situation as have the selectmen and finance committee and others.

Last: if economic development in Rumford had been successful, the no vote never would have happened.

Tony Capola's picture

Not as it seems

I'm not suggesting that the voting wasn't valid. I am saying that many are being driven by the chooses of the few.

Many are voting as directed with little or no insight into the facts. The budget did need to be cut and it was. Who's to say that the reductions done to-date are enough?

The "Chicken Little" people seem to know with certainty that the mill is going to close its doors. Without first-hand knowledge they are convinced that more budget reductions are required. Unfortunately the full impact from a majority of the cuts will not be felt for some time to come.

Phil Blampied's picture

Ha! New excuse

I love the excuses.

Rumford voters aren't turning the budget down, it's just renters.

Rumford voters aren't turning the budget down, it's just challenged people who need assistance voting.

Rumford voters aren't looking for a lower budget, they must actually want a higher budget.

Rumford voters aren't turning the budget down , most aren't voting!

Since you, Ted Hotham, as a finance committee member, are actually one of the town officials who keep making untenably high budget proposals, I would suggest you first have the courage to post under your own name, and secondly to cease your Alice in Wonderland denial of the obvious will of the voters.

Or just bloody resign and make room for someone who will behave responsibly.

THOMAS FALLON 's picture

Is this...

someone posting under an assumed name? What character that takes.

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