Black Mountain petition for special town meeting fails

RUMFORD — For lack of a motion at Thursday night's Board of Selectmen meeting, a petition-initiated request from Black Mountain ski resort for a special town meeting to re-vote on its  rejected town-funding request simply died.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Town Manager Carlo Puiia, left, holds a petition submitted to selectmen Thursday by Black Mountain ski resort, explaining why it isn't a valid petition. The petition asked selectmen to place the ski hill's request for $51,000 before voters a second time. They voted at town meeting last month to deny the funding.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Black Mountain ski resort spokesman Mike Burke explains to selectmen Thursday why the ski hill gathered signatures on a petition to seek a re-vote of last month's town meeting vote that killed funding for the Rumford resort.

But based on the board's discussion and interpretation of Rumford's charter by town attorney Thomas Carey, the petition was doomed to fail, no matter how many signatures were obtained.

Selectman Mark Belanger, to whom Black Mountain representative Mike Burke handed the petition, read it and said that the wording lacked pertinent details.

“Just reading the header here and according to Mr. Carey's interpretation, there has to be an emergency situation and there's no emergency depicted on this paper, so I don't think we can take action on this,” Belanger said.

The law states that for selectmen to call a special town meeting, they have to deem that a critical circumstance exists requiring immediate action by the town.

Black Mountain sought signatures for the petition because resort officials believe that due to the split funding recommendations from selectmen and the Budget Committee for the resort's request of $56,700 at last month's town meeting polls, the intent of voters was to approve funding.

Of the 1,067 who voted to approve funding, 637 sided with the Budget Committee recommendation of $51,000, while 430 went with the selectmen recommendation of $56,700. However, because 657 people voted for no funding, that number was higher than that of either recommendation by itself, killing the request.

That prompted the petition, except its wording asked selectmen to place the request for a re-vote for $51,000 on Tuesday's ballot, which couldn't be done.

Although at Thursday night's meeting, Burke said, “Town funding is critical and we have been working hard to reduce the amount of money from the town from about $100,000 down to our current request of $51,000.”

Selectman Mark Sterling said that while he supports Black Mountain, he'd “find it very hard to deem that the petition request represents a critical circumstance.”

Selectmen Jeremy Volkernick and Mark Belanger said they believe the ski hill is important to the town's economic future.

Belanger, however, reiterated that the petition wasn't valid because its request isn't listed as a critical need.

Resident Candice Casey agreed with Belanger, saying she didn't see it as being critical for the taxpayers of Rumford as a whole, only for people who may visit the ski resort.

After more discussion, the matter died.

In other business, selectmen learned Rumford must seek a new code enforcement officer, because current full-time CEO Rick Kent has opted to become a policeman, police Chief Stacy Carter said.

To that end, Carter asked the board, which previously approved hiring a utility officer to reduce overtime, to appoint Kent as that officer.

Carter said Kent had taken the state criminal justice academy's 100-hour course to become a reserve officer. The department has two vacancies because two officers are deployed in Afghanistan, leaving a 10-man force which includes the chief.

In November, when one deployed officer returns, Sgt. David Bean will retire. The other deployed officer won't return until the end of March 2011.

Kent “has shown himself to be a valuable employee in town, so I'd just as soon keep him,” Carter said.

Former selectman Robert Cameron told selectmen if they OK'd hiring Kent as a policeman, they could seek a part-time code enforcement officer and save money.

Selectmen approved the appointment by a 3-1 vote, with Belanger dissenting.

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 's picture


You simply don't get it, or failed 4th grade Math. A clear majority of citizens voted to fund Black Mountain. Yet, as part of the "NO" crowd, you have chosen to see the results in a rather bizarre manner.
The process is flawed and should be changed.

 's picture

only in Rumford

Only in Rumford could 62% of the voters approve spending on an issue, only to have it defeated by 38% who voted against it. This doesn't pass the straight face test. Time to revisit the charter and inject some common sense into it.

Furthermore, it is unfortunate that some in the community are of the opinion that "I don't ski there, it doesn't benefit me." Nothing could be further from the truth. Black Mountain employs many local people. It brings people into town that otherwise wouldn't come. They buy gas, beer, groceries, eat a restaurant, rent a hotel room. All these businesses hire local people. The naysayer crowd in town are remarkably penny wise and pound foolish to not understand this. They forget what a gift the facility upgrade at Black Mountain by the Libra Foundation was. A world class destination for cross country ski races, snowmobile races, and so on. That's right, "A DESTINATION". I can't think of one other reason for a person to visit Rumford. This is it. The naysayers can't fathom that's its an incredibly positive entity for Rumford.

The majority of residents want to support Black Mountain, and voted to do so. Rumford should dump its odd form of budget approval, and leave it with the Selectman and Town Manager to decide. The current method is slanted too far towards the "NO" crowd, and as this situation indicates, is fundamentally flawed. Time to change the process.

Jack Kaubris's picture

Good pts Dave

It is time to change the process. Before the 'NO' crowd gloats over minority rule, I would point out that if we are not willing to invest in our town, why would we expect any outside entity (business or organization) to invest here. The sad part of this is that the majority of citizens in this town were willing to invest in this gem and were denied by a flaw in the system. Unless this process is changed, this will only be the first of annual 'unintended consequences' for us.


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