Rumford board begins reducing budget requests

RUMFORD — Selectmen made cuts in budget requests for general government and public safety Thursday night, warning there may be fewer services in 2011-12.

Often, they adopted Town Manager Carlo Puiia's figures when they were lower than current budget numbers. For general government they recommended $701,877, which is $90,352 less than requested by department heads, and $13,921 less than Puiia recommended.

For the most part, they voted unanimously 5-0. However, they voted 3-2 to fund the budgets of town manager at $160,000; tax collector at $70,000; and tax assessor at $101,893.

They also reduced police and fire requests in 3-2 decisions. Of the Police Department request of $836,670, they voted $805,000, and of the Fire Department request of $711,363, they voted $678,000.

For other public safety budgets, they unanimously approved $47,545 for building code enforcement, $2,190 less than requested; $481,000 for utilities; and $130,000 for Maine State Retirement System for police and fire.

Selectman Jeff Sterling set the majority's mood for the most part when he said he voted for Puiia's recommended budget last year because he thought Puiia “was brilliant” for recommending it.

However, he said at town meeting last June, “voters voted almost every item at the lower number. In many cases it was by a substantial margin,” he said. “That was a wake-up call that said those that came to vote wanted to spend less.”

He said he hoped by doing that they understood they would lose certain services.

“We have to propose what's right, not what we think people will vote for,” Sterling said.

After each board member shared their sentiments, Chairman Brad Adley reminded them that only three of them would, as selectmen, “have to live with this budget.”

The terms of Selectmen Mark Belanger and Sterling expire in June.

When selectmen first clashed over the town manager's budget under General Government, Puiia stood up for his recommended $165,928 despite Belanger's seconded motion for $160,000.

He said 90 percent of his budget was wages, the other 10 percent operating costs.

“If you're cutting when you say taxes, say it right, you're cutting services and you're cutting jobs,” Puiia said.

Selectman Jeremy Volkernick asked Belanger to explain what he wanted cut, but Belanger would only say “structural changes and hours, whatever the town manager has to do to make it up.”

Volkernick wanted selectmen to figure out what to cut.

Sterling, however, said that would be micromanaging.

When Puiia said $160,000 would mean cutting services, Buccina responded,  “I'm not going to sit here and be lectured.”

“I'm not in favor of going with the town manager's budget,” he said. “We understand we may be eliminating services.”

Buccina raised his voice, looked out into the crowd, most of whom were department heads, and said, “People, we may be cutting services.”

“We may have to lose an employee or two or reduce your hours from 40 to 35 ... but that is life. We're not the bad guys. We're trying balance it out.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Alice Barnett's picture

$$$

no wonder town officials in Maine believe the wind industry and bite the carrot. $$$$$
I heard the governor say he will not allow subsidies, rebates, tax breaks any longer.,
Yes, let private Industry pave the way. If the service is needed, we will pay.
or ??? no answers.

Mark Belanger's picture

Right Direction

I truely feel that last night we some strides for the taxpayers of Rumford. Although not the 1 mil decrease I was hoping for. Because of adopting last years figures the increases in each department will have to be adsorbed by structual changes. This meens and acual decrease of 5% over last year. You have to remember that each employee gets there health insurance paid 100%. The increase this year was 15% or $35,000.00. We pay over $500,000.00 for that benifit alone. We can't keep passing those kind of increases to the tax payers...

Ed McCaffrey's picture

The population in Rumford

can no longer bear the financial weight that it has in the past. The census figure came out yesterday and the population of Rumford now stands at 4218 people many of whom are not taxpayers. There are 2461 housing units in town of which only 1989 are occupied and the ones that aren't occupied are probably either unfit for occupancy or are for sale with the owner living elsewhere.
http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview....
Follow the link and choose Maine from the dropdown menu and then look for Rumford.
To quote an old C&W song " we have champagne tastes and a beer budget". Department heads are going to have to find a way to provide services with less money. If they don't want to cut jobs, then employees are going to have to accept reduced hours to accommodate keeping those extra people on the payroll. There are no longer any sacred cows here. Everything should be on the block including the staff in the town office, the police and fire departments, and the town garage. As far as the retirement fund goes for the police and fire depts, between the both of them there are 22 full time employees and 6 reserve employees who are getting an average of $4600 a year put into their retirement accounts by the town and I can't afford to put $1000 a year into mine. Aren't unions wonderful???

On a completely different subject, I understand that the much ballyhooed gateway business that the selectmen have been angling for is now a done deal. Guess what, I hear tell it's an Amato's restaurant. That's really gonna make people and businesses want to flock to Rumford. We already have 7 or 8 pizza places in a three mile radius now. Good job!!!

It's A start

In the right direction but plenty more has to be done. This town budget should be below 5 million for our population. Can it be done yes it can. All working department heads; less police vehicles; get out of the road construction business and into just maintenance; eliminate certain dept. heads taking vehicles home(gas savings) especially two detective vehicles; better time management and planning in all departments. All paper products bought as a whole and not individual depts.;32 or 35 hr. weeks instead of 40 or cut back personnel; and there are other ways. RSU 10 has to come in line also. Their budget is ridiculous. Representatives from Rumford should be sat down with this selectboard and told outright that the people voted you into office to to do whats best and to get the best for the least amount. There are ares that can do that within that budget also. The voters have to start saying "NO" in the voting booth. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! THINGS MUST CHANGE? If the elected officials don't do it then we the voters must do it. Brad your statement is a copout. If you can't do the right thing and take the heat by the big spenders then get out of the oven.

It's A start

In the right direction but plenty more has to be done. This town budget should be below 5 million for our population. Can it be done yes it can. All working department heads; less police vehicles; get out of the road construction business and into just maintenance; eliminate certain dept. heads taking vehicles home(gas savings) especially two detective vehicles; better time management and planning in all departments. All paper products bought as a whole and not individual depts.;32 or 35 hr. weeks instead of 40 or cut back personnel; and there are other ways. RSU 10 has to come in line also. Their budget is ridiculous. Representatives from Rumford should be sat down with this selectboard and told outright that the people voted you into office to to do whats best and to get the best for the least amount. There are ares that can do that within that budget also. The voters have to start saying "NO" in the voting booth. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! THINGS MUST CHANGE? If the elected officials don't do it then we the voters must do it.

It's A start

In the right direction but plenty more has to be done. This town budget should be below 5 million for our population. Can it be done yes it can. All working department heads; less police vehicles; get out of the road construction business and into just maintenance; eliminate certain dept. heads taking vehicles home(gas savings) especially two detective vehicles; better time management and planning in all departments. All paper products bought as a whole and not individual depts.;32 or 35 hr. weeks instead of 40 or cut back personnel; and there are other ways. RSU 10 has to come in line also. Their budget is ridiculous. Representatives from Rumford should be sat down with this selectboard and told outright that the people voted you into office to to do whats best and to get the best for the least amount. There are ares that can do that within that budget also. The voters have to start saying "NO" in the voting booth. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! THINGS MUST CHANGE? If the elected officials don't do it then we the voters must do it.

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