RUMFORD — For the second time in as many months, selectmen will convene a special board meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, July 22, in Rumford Falls Auditorium to approve a proposed 2010-11 Welfare Budget.
They will also decide what to do with a second petition from Black Mountain ski resort asking the board to call a special town meeting to re-vote the ski hill's initiated article funding request for $51,000. Failure to get the funding means the resort may cease operations, the petition states.
At town meeting polls on June 8, a 965-727 tally rejected the proposed 2010-11 Welfare Budget of $70,021, which was $949 less than the 2009-10 budget of $70,970.
Selectmen by a 4-1 vote then arbitrarily reduced it to $60,000, and then tried again 45 days later. That was rejected on July 13 by a 190-115 tally.
At the same June 8 polls, 1,067 people voted to raise and appropriate money to fund the ski resort, whereas 657 voted against it and ultimately rejected the article due to the way it was written.
Of those 1,067 people, 637 voted for the Budget Committee's recommendation of $51,000, while 430 went for the selectmen recommendation and Black Mountain's request of $56,700. Because of the split totals, the tally of 657 voters trumped them both, raising zero dollars.
That prompted the first petition, except its wording asked selectmen to place the request for a re-vote on the July 13 ballot for $51,000, which couldn't be done. Additionally, there was no mention that it constituted an emergency for the town itself.
Which is why at the board's July 15 meeting, the incorrectly worded petition and a subsequent Black Mountain request asking selectmen to convene a special town meeting anyway, failed for lack of a motion.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said Wednesday that ski area officials then created a second petition based on town attorney Thomas Carey's July 12 letter to selectmen detailing Rumford's charter law requirements.
Carey wrote that selectmen could decline to call a special town meeting for Black Mountain funding if the board decides that a critical circumstance doesn't exist, or the board determines that the June 8 vote to raise zero funding should stand.
He then detailed the proper petition process.
Black Mountain's second petition asks selectmen to call a special town meeting to allow residents to vote on their initiated article funding request of $51,000. The petition lists a history of the matter and then addresses its critical nature.
The petition states that the ski hill has “long been a strong economic engine” for Rumford and its citizens. The resort also provides “a critical recreational and social center” for Rumford residents.
“Due to the unfavorable weather conditions this past season, the failure to receive the $51,000 from the town of Rumford may cause Black Mountain of Maine to cease operations,” the petition states. It is signed by the required 25 people.
Puiia said that should selectmen again not approve the petition or let it die for lack of a motion, ski resort officials could then try to get 500 or more signatures to bypass the board and force a re-vote through a special town meeting.