Rumford selectmen making third try on Welfare Budget; Black Mtn. ski resort may close if town funding dies

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.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

another handout

Let's not forget that the great Mr. Arsenault promised to cease asking for funding after the new lodge was built and he had 100k of our tax money for that year. Looks like they all have short term memory loss. I am tired of our town supporting this private venture any longer. Let those who can manage it right do it.

Jack Kaubris's picture

That is the crux

...of this situation, gdls1, but that involves common sense...If the situation was reversed, say 637 citizens voted for $0, 430 voted for $10, and 657 voted for $100,000 then it would seem to be clear that the majority of voters wanted low/no funding for this project and I would have no problem with citizens seeking a revote (kinda like a recount, eh watchdog?) on this vote. What needs to be done beyond this issue is for the Town Manager/ Selectboard/ Town Attorney to revisit the wording of ballot questions. I applaud BMOM for bringing this process to a head.

Jack Kaubris's picture

It's become your style KNS

Sadly, KNSaisi, it has become your style to add personal attacks to your comments. Recent attacks on Jolene Lovejoy and now Roger Arsenault. Why don't you list your charitable donations? I don't think your involvement as the 'Town Crier' on this site qualifies you to criticize anyone's volunteer/charity work. Stick to the issues and leave the mudslinging to watchdog and his ilk.

 's picture

Character Traits

Identifying character traits and past actions is not an attack.

Jack Kaubris's picture

Character traits?

In order to comply with full disclosure let it be said that I, also, did not buy a brick from the Stephens High School Alumni Association. What does that say about anyone's character? Why do you choose not to publish the names of the 99% of Rumford citizens who did not purchase bricks? Is this 'past action' of yours hearsay? One fact that you conveniently omit is that the Alumni Association is/was headed up by your father. Digging up this silly 'past action' reeks of sour grapes and a childish tantrum. Stick to the issues KNSaisi. The issue being discussed is whether the taxpayers of this community meant to fund BMOM or not...neither you nor I ( nor anyone else for that matter ) will come out smelling like roses if someone chooses to arbitrarily pick out 'past actions' and falsely assign a 'character trait' to it.

Welfare and Other Situations

The people want the selectboard to do their research. Rumford does not need a fulltime director. The town manager doesn't want it run out of his office. Why not? Does he truly want to save money? the town can achieve general asst. by doing it on Tues. and Thurs. afternoons from 1 to 3 PM by one of the girls in the town managers office. The selectboard better do the right things by the town. Right now they are not. The town manager did nothing about the tax office issue and yet is attempting to place a grandffather clause in the personnel policy handbook that will not allow correction of that fiasco. What about the fire department contract? Here is one union that wants to assist in creating higher taxes with their demands. At this point the town should nullify what was discussed and go back to all previous contract changes that the board wanted from the get go. The people are speaking out on every corner. The selectboard except one is turning a deaf ear.

Jarrod Dumas's picture

luxury?

Yes, I understand what you are saying, I guess I just never saw recreational facilities that provide opportunities for our young people to take part in healthy and positive activities year-round and attract thousands of people to our community to spend money at our businesses as a luxury. I always thought it was part of intelligent and meaningful development for a community that is interested in surviving into the 21st century.

Of course, you by all means have the right to your opinion. If taxpayers don't see the return they are getting on their individual pennies-on-the-dollar commitment to Black Mountain (after all, its not like each of us is spending $51,000 each--in fact, NewPage continues to fund the vast majority of the Rumford budget), then by all means, cease funding Black Mountain. But, I don't see what is wrong with allowing the individual citizens who have asked for a new vote an opportunity to vote a single dollar amount up or down, instead of splitting the vote between two amounts which obviously let to an unintended consequence at the ballot box.

Cost

Don't you think there has a charge, a cost for hosting the events. When their is a High school regional or state meet BM gets paid. Do they charge the local schools for the use of the mountain for practice and meets? Yes they do! Ask your local school departments what they pay for the use of BM. What do they really give back? People bring their own eats to ski or eat their at the mountain not in local restaurants. The mountain is mismanaged that's the problem. A great facility but improperly run. Bottom line!

 's picture

process

I am surprised that you would accuse me of not being informed on the proper process. Unlike many who state opinions, I have actually read the Charter and refer to it regularly when issues arise. I disagree with Mr. Carey's opinion on this matter. The Article reads quite clearly that special town meetings (elections) are to be called only for matters that pertain to town affairs or the welfare of it's citizens. This does not qualify as such under any stretch of the law. If the existing entity cannot operate the mountain, it will be sold to someone who can.

My comments regarding Mr. Arsenault were not an attack. They were facts, and comments based upon those facts. If I really wanted to attack Mr. Arsenault, I have sufficient information to really hit him hard. But that is not my style. It is funny how some people do attack personalities when votes don't go the way they would like them to.

It is my understanding that there are efforts to block the BMOM vote through legal action in the courts. It will be interesting to see if a judge provides as liberal of an interpretation as Mr. Carey. I am not involved with that effort and choose to remain unaffiliated with it.

If the vote is reconsidered, it can't be a simple up-down vote. It must be worded the same way with the same options. In my earlier comment I stated that I would vote NO, but I would correct that by stating I will vote zero.

I believe that the BMOM request for $1,000 for a private fireworks show in a year that our town didn't have a public celebration, has caused some to be less supportive of the mountain. Yes, you do bring in events, but due to our area's lack of lodging, most racers stay in Farmington or Bethel, and only eat their lunch in Rumford ( presumably at the mountain). When there are events in town I see no major influx of shoppers at the grocery store, nor diners at the3 local restaurants. I do agree that our economy will be more greatly affected if we get a large motel with at least 80 rooms.

Jarrod Dumas's picture

shameful

Its not right or fair to use this forum as a way to personally attack individuals the way that KNSaisi and NotInMyTime are doing. To actually suggest that a local businessman, who, whether you folks like it or not, gives considerable time to many philanthropic causes in the area, is stealing money from the people of Rumford is shameful.

Additionally, to suggest that Black Mountain is circumventing the proper process for requesting funding is shortsighted, and shows a lack of knowledge about the topic. It is clear by looking at the vote on the issue on the original primary ballot that about 2/3 of voters intended to provide at least $51,000 to Black Mountain. But because of the way that the ballot was designed, whether accidentally or intentionally to confuse the issue, the vote failed. I think this exact situation is a perfect example of why we in America believe in democratic processes, including the right to petition for a redress of grievances, because sometimes the system breaks down. We all have the opportunity of exercise our due process rights. Don't begrudge others their God-given rights as American citizens to request that the Selectmen follow the clear will of the people and fund Black Mountain.

Jack Kaubris's picture

NotinMyTime

2/3 of the voting taxpayers in this community voted to fund this 'luxury'. What part of the vote don't YOU understand?

Jarrod Dumas's picture

support Black Mountain

Selectmen need to recognize the value that Black Mountain adds to the community. As the Sun Journal Editorial Board pointed out last week, Black Mountain isn't just important to people who ski. The major national Nordic ski meets, college championships, and other events that are held in Rumford every year generate income for the community, not only through ticket sales and other fees at Black Mountain, but in our grocery stores, at our gas stations, in our restaurants and at our inns and other lodgings.

Ask the Selectmen to support Black Mountain's petition for funding.

 's picture

No due to process

I will be voting NO on the Black Mountain request if it shows up on a ballot. I support the efforts of Black Mountain, and even voted in favor funding them this past June. However, the process they are using is not intended to be twisted to provide a back door for initiated article appeals. THIS IS WRONG AND SHOULD BE VOTED DOWN to avoid setting precedent for other agencies to abuse the process to get money from the town.

I really do not see why the mountain would have to shut down. Surely, they could find savings somewhere, and perhaps a mailing asking for donations from supporters would help them get past this speed bump.

 's picture

HA!!

CA,
Community Energy wouldn't even donate $5.00 to the Stephens High School Alumni Association when they were selling engraved bricks for the walkway to the monument. What makes you think that one of the wealthiest men in town is going to donate any substantial amount of money to Black Mountain? Like he said when asked for the $5.00 brick donation "what do I get out of it??". I believe his fingerprint is obstructed by the picture of President Lincoln.

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