RUMFORD — On Friday afternoon in the town office, Town Manager Carlo Puiia shared what he believes are this year's goals for the Board of Selectmen.
He also reiterated his praise of the board's 31 accomplishments and dealings last year, which he initially briefed on Thursday night at the board's first meeting of the new year.
“Creating a wind ordinance, I think that's a big one on the plate,” Puiia said of a key goal to create a new law to regulate wind farm development.
Selectmen have scheduled a workshop on the ordinance for 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 13, in the municipal building.
The board's Wind Power Advisory Committee created such a document last year, but it was defeated at the polls on Nov. 2 by a tally of 1,339 against and 1,048 for it.
“I think (other) goals are to continue to work with the departments on trying to see what we can do different to save money and to keep our costs down,” Puiia said.
Selectmen have already met with Public Works and will soon do the same with police, fire and library departments.
Citing another goal, Puiia said, “Basically, we need to make our citizens feel good about their community.”
He said Rumford was “very fortunate” this past week to have Black Mountain of Maine “giving us wonderful public recognition.”
The Chisholm Ski Club hosted the U.S. Cross Country Ski Championships at the ski resort from Jan. 2 through 8, and won the bid to hold the event next year.
Selectmen are also expected to revisit Rumford's Charter to determine if it needs more tweaking to better align it with the 21st century.
Highlighting the board's achievements in 2010, Puiia began with the personnel policy.
“It was a very old policy, and the last three town managers that worked on it never had finalized it, so we had a workshop and a couple of meetings, and we got the job done,” he said.
That also included drafting and approving a new tobacco-free workplace policy, “which I thought was very forward thinking in that it was not just smoking, but tobacco free,” Puiia said. “Part of it is state law that you can no longer smoke in town vehicles.”
Selectmen also met with the Rumford Public Library Building Committee and similar groups. Instead of moving ahead with a major capital improvement project to build a new and larger library, the board left the decision to residents.
A majority decided to instead make necessary repairs to bring the current building up to code.
He said the board acquired a grant to perform an energy audit on all town buildings, which led to the replacement of all municipal lighting. So far, that has saved the town $300 in electricity in comparing the November 2010 power bill to the 2009 bill.
Among other achievements, Puiia said selectmen negotiated with Police, Fire and Public Works unions and approved new contracts; tied up a loophole that allowed organizations seeking donations from the town through the initiated-article process to petition for another vote if defeated at town meeting; and had a feasibility study done to attract a brand-name hotel to town, which “is producing interesting results for good economic development.”
Selectmen also worked with police and taxi cab company owners to keep taxis operating while amending the taxi ordinance to require cabbies to get licensed and to have adequate records to perform that service.
“I think there are always individuals that forget what has transpired through the year, but I think it's just good to remind people what happens, and I think it's good to remind the board as well,” Puiia said.
“The number of meetings and hearings and special functions that they attend for the paltry fee that they collect, they take a lot of responsibility on for that amount of money: $1,000 a year.”
“So the board, I think, did a good job last year, and I have faith in them,” Puiia said.
“They're a good group of citizens, because they are very forward thinking, and despite the criticisms of some, they continue to hold their heads up and serve our communities.”