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.
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.