DiConzo rebukes selectmen for budget work

RUMFORD — Attending his first board meeting since leaving in mid-February for open heart surgery, Selectman Frank DiConzo lashed out at fellow board members on Thursday for approving a $7.2 million municipal budget in his absence.

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Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

At Thursday night's meeting, Rumford Board of Selectman Chairman Brad Adley listens at right as Selectman Frank DiConzo admonishes the board for failing to reduce the proposed $7.2 million municipal budget and approving $115,000 more in initiated article requests than DiConzo's self-imposed limit last month while DiConzo was recovering from open heart surgery.

They, in turn, rebuked him just as strongly for the brow beating, albeit more succinctly.

DiConzo was unhappy that the board approved a budget recommendation that is $88,704 higher than last year's budget of $7,155,715.

“I can't understand why there are so many taxpayers accepting such an increase, but I guess they're happy about it,” DiConzo said.

“You the taxpayer put us in office. We have a job. I think this board has failed it this year.”

He was additionally irked to learn they approved recommending $215,000 in initiated article requests for town meeting voters in June, rather than meeting DiConzo's self-imposed $100,000 cutoff.

“This board gave away $215,000,” DiConzo said. “This board promised there would be cuts. There were no cuts made. I found $273,000 more in cuts that could have been made. Instead, we're $88,000 over last year.”

The former longtime Finance Committee member then asked committee members to rectify the budget.

“I'm hoping that when the Finance Committee starts their work, they will not be like the old finance board that I was on and take that little rubber stamp and say, 'Everything that was voted on by this board is A-OK,'” DiConzo said. “I'm happy with my services, but if there's a way to get them cheaper, we have to do that.”

DiConzo also read excerpts from two e-mails he said he sent to selectmen on March 21 and 23.

“I said, 'I was disappointed about the lack of concern for taxpayer dollars and not changing policies for part-time hours.' We are not in a position to be popular. We are in a position to oversee the running of the town.”

“I didn't take this position for prestige,” he said reading from another e-mail. “I got in to make a difference, and I'm ashamed to say I haven't made that difference yet. What did you get into it for, gentlemen?”

To June town meeting voters, DiConzo said, “When you go to the polls, and you see those figures that you have to vote on, you should be very unhappy with what this board voted on.”

“If the Finance Committee does not step up to the plate and rectify the wrong that was done in this budget, I pray that the people will vote zero on every initiated article and every town budget article, and send both boards back to the drawing board to come up with a budget (with) no more tax increases.”

A smattering of loud applause acknowledged his speech.

Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley then said, “Frank's opinion does not represent the majority of the selectmen.”

Of DiConzo's e-mails, Selectman Jeff Sterling said he had hoped they wouldn't be mentioned, but "I'm sorry it was.”

Selectman Greg Buccina took a stronger stance.

“I would like to respond to Mr. DiConzo's tirade, if you will,” Buccina said. “I take a little bit of offense at some of the comments. I take a little bit of offense at some of the e-mails and what you omitted to say.”

Buccina said the board relied on Puiia's work with the department heads to present lean budgets, and then supported his recommendations.

Adley would only say that he, too, was offended by DiConzo's e-mails.

“At some point, I think we need to trust our town manager,” Buccina added later. “We didn't rubber stamp anything. I think that's insulting.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Jake, Insulting and Self serving

What planet are you on? Or what closet are you hiding in ? Why don't you call Mr. DiConzo  and go to coffee. Tell him who you are face to face and find out why he's dedicated himself to the Town of Rumford for all these years. How long have you dedicated yourself in public service ? He looks for nothing to gain by serving. He told the town many years ago that the roof was going to fall in and no one believed him. If you recall last year he stated that anyone serving the town in any position, except , being employed in any dept. should do it  as a civic duty without pay.  Have you stepped up and attempted to serve  the town in any capacity?  He has and still is serving the town in many ways and does it unselfishly. What have you done? Except sit back and be critical of dedication of a person who has always wanted the best for the citizens, (taxpayers)  of Rumford.

Jack Kaubris's picture

Watchdog Frank

Take a deep breath. It isn't very comfortable having your integrity challenged (as you did to your fellow selectmen) is it? I applaud you for serving your town - I don't applaud you for the manner in which you do it. To add to what KSaisi stated, I agree that none of the selectmen or town leaders are bad people, but that does not necessarily make them good selectmen. I'll call you for that coffee - I'll even pay!

Edit...let me amend the offer to pay for your coffee...I'll buy if you can clear up one unresolved issue for me when we meet. I refer to the infamous episode of the recent past when you attempted to disband/discredit the Charter Commission. It has never been adequately explained to me how you, Mr Boivin, and Mr Belanger, acting as selectmen, met and hired the town attorney Carey without calling a meeting or informing your fellow selectmen at that time of your request to hire said attorney for the sum of approx.$2000. If you recall, there was a request at that time to have you three dismissed for illegally meeting without informing your fellow selectmen or the public. Is this one of your ideas to save this town money? I'll give you a couple of days to come up with an answer for me and if you can...I'll buy. And if you can't or refuse to answer for this...you can buy. Deal?

Jake

Call me for coffee > Have your answer. Coffee out but tea is in or a juice. OK?

 's picture

Insulting

Frank may not express himself as tactfully as others, but he does represent a large segment of the population with his comments. When taxes jump 4 mils and the town leaders fail to cut the budget, they have to expect some discontent.

Jack Kaubris's picture

Insulting and Self Serving

Frank's comments were certainly meant to be insulting to Carlo and the department heads. Frank has had plenty of time as a selectman to make a difference and his description of himself as a failure in that respect certainly should speak volumes to the voters of Rumford as his term expires. While I think that it is healthy to debate the cost and services provided by the local government, I don't feel many of Frank's actions or words have added anything constructive to the debate. This was little more than grandstanding on his part..and if he, indeed, represents a large segment of the population then this town has some serious problems. We citizens, by and large, get what we deserve, and if this is how we want our selectpeople to behave then by all means we have the power to make that choice...or not.

 's picture

As I said,

As I said,

Frank doesn't always do things the way others do, but that does not make him a bad person. Frank's comments in the meeting addressed the situation. Whatever else he may have said in his emails is not relavant to this discussion. He does express himself too strongly at times, but I have said similar things to both Carlo and the board members, just in a different way.

It is irresponsible for a board to recommend an increased budget after a 4 mil tax increase, especially after failing to attain a 10% decrease in the current budget. I am not sure what Saab owners are saying, but everyone I speak to, except for Brad, Jeff and Greg, are apalled at the action.

Now there is word that a member of the board reportedly trying to coerce the finance committee into not recommending a lower budget. The selectmen as a board have no authority over the finance committee regarding the budget, and a single member of the board has no authority unless the majority of the board grants it to him. Yes, the board sets the level of service, but they must do so within the fiscal ability of the town (which is based upon the collective ability of all taxpaying citizens). Such actions are unethical, if not illegal.

 's picture

If the government can not

If the government can not muster the will to stop the bleeding of their bosses, the citizens, than it remains up to the citizens to do it.

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