Selectmen OK $35,000 Welfare Budget; kill Black Mtn. petition again

RUMFORD — By a 4-1 vote, selectmen at Thursday night's special board meeting agreed to recommend $35,000 as the 2010-11 Welfare Budget, and reduce office hours for the general assistance program to whatever a salary of $10,000 would cover.

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Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

While Rumford Selectman Greg Buccina listens at left, long-time Black Mountain of Maine advocate Chummy Broomhall cites the history of Rumford's ski resort and town funding while lobbying selectmen at Thursday night's special board meeting to accept the ski hill's petition for a re-vote on its initiated article funding request for $51,000. A majority agreed to raise zero funding at June 8 town meeting polls.

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Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Selectman Jeff Sterling, right, listens as Selectman Jeremy Volkernick tells fellow members at Thursday night's special board meeting that he believes irreparable damage would be done to the town's economic development plans if Black Mountain ski resort closes because townspeople weren't given another chance to re-vote funding it $51,000.

Additionally, because Mexico subcontracts their general assistance program to Rumford, paying $5,000 annually, the board included Selectman Jeff Sterling's idea to closely monitor costs associated with doing so for six months and bill Mexico accordingly in the future.

Selectmen also voted 4-1 against calling a petition-initiated special town meeting to re-vote Black Mountain ski resort's initiated article request for $51,000 in funding that a majority of town meeting voters killed last month, agreeing instead to raise zero dollars.

That means ski hill officials must now get 500 signatures on a petition to force selectmen to call a special town meeting to re-vote the matter.

Only a few people at the sparsely attended meeting spoke to both issues.

Selectman Greg Buccina suggested creating a general assistance ordinance that would put people who seek welfare to work to get benefits.

“Welfare is designed to be a hand-up, and not a way of life,” Buccina said.

He also suggested that the general assistance office be open 12 hours a week instead of 35, switch from a full-time director with benefits to a part-time person without benefits, and raise $25,000 as the Welfare Budget, which, with $5,760 in wages would total $30,760.

The ordinance, he said would institute a 90-day residency in Rumford before people could seek general assistance.

Voters have rejected raising and appropriating $70,021 in June, and $60,000 this month for the budget.

After considerable discussion, Selectman Mark Belanger motioned to return Mexico's general assistance administration back to Mexico, reduce general assistance office hours to six a week, and go with a budget of $30,000, with $5,000 of that dedicated to wages for a part-time director.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the downside would be if they dropped helping Mexico, that could bode bad down the road for future regionalization efforts, especially where Rumford may soon ask to share Mexico's code enforcement officer.

After more discussion and Sterling's suggestion, Belanger amended his motion to continue doing Mexico's general assistance work for six months to determine real costs involved.

Additionally, he sought to reduce the general assistance directors hours to eight a week with a salary of $5,000, but Puiia said he believes it will be hard to find a skilled person to do the work and pay to train someone.

Selectmen Brad Adley and Sterling said limiting hours may mean essential work like background checks failing to get done.

“If we limit the hours, we might end up with less people needing assistance,” Belanger countered.

Puiia disagreed.

That's when Belanger motioned to continue doing Mexico's welfare work for six months, and approve a $35,000 welfare budget of which $10,000 would be the director's salary. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was the lone dissenter.

As for the Black Mountain petition, Black Mountain Board of Directors president Roger Arsenault read a prepared statement pointing out what the resort means to the town, including that it has seasonably employed more than 65 workers.

“Black Mountain will face severe consequences without the town's help,” Arsenault said.

Despite an appeal from Chummy Broomhall “to figure out if it's worth keeping Black Mountain,” Sterling and Belanger said they don't believe it triggers the “critical circumstance” requirement to convene a special town meeting for a re-vote.

Adley and Buccina, who lobbied for the ski resort initially, said they wouldn't go against the wishes of the majority vote in June. Hence, they all voted against Volkernick's motion to schedule the meeting and re-vote.

Volkernick argued that if Black Mountain closes, it would do irreparable harm to economic development in town.

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

let the decline continue

Unfortunately, Rumford can't be logical.

The MAJORITY of voters vote to fund Black Mountain, but due to their outright STRANGE ballot procedures, is denied funding.

Now the Selectman hide under the wacky charter as a way to deny funding to the best institution in town. What's next, close down the 'stute'?

Kevin Saisi's picture

Voter Approved

The strange voting procedure and wacky charter were voted in by the citizens. The board is required to follow those procedures until the people change them.

 's picture

With a unanimous board?

With100% agreement on the board who are you planning to throw out and why? You just voted in three clones of the other remaining two. You just put Jeff Sterling in for one year and the other two might as well be identical twins the way they vote.

 's picture

Real charmer

Always a class act, ehh Frankie? Too bad those managers weren't as professional as you. You make me sick coming off like such an expert. The last election was proof that 'the taxpayers are wising up to the charmers and bull artists', wasn't it Frankie? They threw out the trash. Hopefully the will finish cleaning up the garbage on the Board next June. Two down, one to go.

Truth Hurts justbit

Just what your title says. Your types don't like the truth. So,your justbitching.

 's picture

Terry what is this minority in control?

If the question on the ballot had been: To see what color the town shall pain thr trim on the town hall A) Blue B) Red C) Yellow and the results were 90 votes A) Blue 90 votes B) Red and 110 votes C) Yellow would we be painting the trim PURPLE because the combined 90 voting A) Blue and 90 voting B) Red is 180 and more than the 110 who voted C) Yellow and Blue and Red make Purple? Using your logic on the Black Mountain Vote we would be.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Terry

Terry happens to be the author of the article. However, Mr. Karkos rarely opines on issues to maintain objectivity.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Let's all violate the law

"The ordinance, he said would institute a 90-day residency in Rumford before people could seek general assistance."

Sorry, you can't, it's illegal.

 's picture

General Assistance

Rumford better keep thier GA director if they think they can create thier own ordinance. DHHS oversees GA. They Town cannot make thier own rules especially when it comes to residency laws. They better get a good lawyer.

Lisbonres

Stay in Lisbon and mind your own business. When our rules or ordinances are written for GA. They will be legal for sure. There are some people in the town who will make sure. We are tired of mismanagement by town managers in thr towns employ and we have had a few. The taxpayers are wising up to the charmers and bull artists. They want things to happen. presently they are unhappy with the performance that the board and manager are displaying. It best not continue. They are not delivering what is needed for a turn around. So lisbon resident whoever you are. You have your own major problems going on and if you don't wake up your town will be turned upside down also.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Sorry Frank

As one of those who makes sure the rules are followed, I have to agree with LisbonRes. Some people think that the town can make their own rules (formerly or informally), but they can't.

Read Again Kevin

Towns can set criteria. They can't set residency criteria. But can be written in that if state creates residency clause then ours automatically kicks in. But who will do it now. You !

 's picture

Mr. Volkernick

Mr. Volkernick as you were told last night by Mr. Sterling, a bridge collapse is an emergency and by that very intelligent and well educated Ms Casey (You should be asking for her help and advice) losing all the fire trucks if the fire station burned would be an emergency, Black Mountain not geting money from the voters, even closing is DEFINITLY NOT AN EMERGENCY. Stop trying to make some peoples private, expensive recreation taxpayer subsidized, as Ms Casey pointed out we have been doing this for over 50 years. I don't care what they try to pull most families in this town are lucky to put winter jackets and boots on their kids they can not afford ski wear and equipment and trips to Black Mountain even if the did knock a crappy 10% off the lift ticket for a Rumford residency.

Rumford does have a recall provision in the Charter/By-Laws gentleman. The citizens voted on Black Mountain in June and we said $0. We have voted on general assistance twice $0 and talk and written and we still have atleast one who refuses to listen on the board. Gentlemen you are well aware you have a Town Manager who is working against you every step of the way, it is obvious at every meeting, do something about it or we voters will starting with recalling you from office. And no additional vacation time.

Is It Enough

So much for watching out for the taxpayer in his campaign. Mr. Volkernick was the lone vote in last nights meeting on both the Welfare and BM issues. He also wants to give additional vacation time. Mr. Belanger again was misquoted in the discussion on the Welfare budget. And it was obvious that the town manager was not on board for the welfare being run out of his office. There can be additional savings if this is done. Now this selectboard has to deal with a new personnel policy solely written by department heads and town hall employees. If this goes through as written then the great error created by the tax collector and not corrected by the town manager will be allowed to go on and cost the town monies.BM should be self sustaining by now. They say that they have brainstormed ideas but they just can't sit on them. Why don't they start fund raisers on there own. Let's see if the people who really use the mountain step up to the plate.

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