Rumford to remove 40-plus streetlights to save $6,000

RUMFORD — Due to budget constraints, more than 40 streetlights across town will be removed to save roughly $6,000 annually, Town Manager Carlo Puiia told selectmen and the public on Thursday night.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford Town Manager Carlo Puiia displays a streetlight removal flier during Thursday night's selectmen meeting while telling the board and the public that these signs will soon be posted on streetlights designated for removal due to budget cuts.

However, should residents not want them removed, they have the option to contract with Central Maine Power Co. to pay about $120 to $150 a year to keep them up, he said.

“So rather than the town paying for it, private citizens would be asked to pay that bill,” Puiia said.

“It's not a large amount of money, but the town will save around $6,000 a year.”

The procedure to follow to save a light is listed on bright orange signs that will soon be posted on selected streetlights.

Puiia has yet to disclose locations. However, he said Friday afternoon that 41 lights are scheduled for removal, with more expected to be added.

He said police Chief Stacy Carter will review the list prior to signs being placed on lights scheduled for removal.

“You'll be seeing these in the very near future, and you will have 30 days to respond,” he said of the signs on Thursday night.

“This was not a decision of mine. It was a decision of the voters.”

At town meeting polls last year, a majority approved the Finance Committee recommendation of raising and appropriating $666,645 for the Public Safety budget.

That cut the requested amount for streetlights and hydrants under the Utilities budget from $489,000 to $481,000.

At last month's town meeting, selectmen and the committee approved keeping the Utilities budget at $481,000, and a majority of voters approved that.

“It wasn't a fun job, I'll tell you that,” Puiia said of figuring out where the cuts should come.

“Again, it's not a very pleasant thing to do, but when economic times are tough and voters decided as a community to cut budgets, these are some of the effects of cutting those budgets.”

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

Charter

Our Town Charter is not the problem because it is old, most of the problems were caused by amendments that were made without going through the proper process. Hastily made legislation to change the Charter has created this mess and taken away the authority of the citizens to make decisions.

If you want a small handful of people to make all of the decisions for where you live, move to a country run by a monarch, or move to a place that is run under a council form of government. Either option will work, but it is not the way our country was designed. WE THE PEOPLE are supposed to be in control of our communities, not bureaucrats and people with corporate puppet strings. Bring America back to the way it is supposed to be.

 's picture

There is a solution...

The way our budget is set up, there is minimal fiscal oversight. When we changed voting from the Town Meeting to ballot box, we lost all control over line items. For example, Public Safety includes Emergency Management, Utilities (Street Lights and Hydrants), Police & Fire Retirement, and Code Enforcement. Both the Selectboard and the Finance Committee still get a say over what the individual line item amounts will be, but the people don't. We have a choice of two totals.

What's worse, even the Selectboard and Finance Committee are unable to delve below the surface on the large department budgets. For example, the Police and Fire Department budgets are only a single line item, so both boards can discuss changes they would like to see in these budgets, but there is no means for them to modify line items under the budget. To me, it makes sense for both budgets to be broken down into line items such as staffing, training, equipment purchase and maintenance, mutual aid costs, overtime, and office costs. This would allow both the finance committee and Selectboard to adjust costs within the department. As it stands, the department heads have free reign as long as they stay under the magic number.

I have advocated for a change in the rules to require a department head to get permission from the Selectboard if they are going to overrun any line item. Unfortunately, the rule as stated is not clear, and allows overruns between line items without approval as long as the bottom line is not exceeded.

My suggestion is that the larger department budgets be broken down into line items for the annual warrant, the Selectboard and Finance Committee work with the department heads to come to a reasonable amount for each line item, and the town find a way to restore the power of Town Meeting without doing away with the ballot box for final approval.

This budget is OUR budget for OUR town, and WE should have a greater say in how OUR money is spent.

 's picture

we take lights down but leave

we take lights down but leave the fire pull boxes?

Streetlights? REALLY

This board does not have the guts to save money and make changes where they should to save monies. And the people approved $56,000.00 for Black Mtn. ,what's wrong with this picture. I keep saying this over and over again. Take the bull by the horns and make the police chief a working person who fills in covering all facits of the dept. Saves overtime etc. If need be last man in is first man out or bring back dispatching keeping window open 24-7 and no cuts have to be made and offer position to last person in. The tax office fool up would have save more than the $6000.00 The poor managing of the town garage and it's workforce could also save thousands. I don't think I have to go further with this comment. Shuttingt down street lights is not the answer. This board refuses to make cuts where cuts should be made and where changes should be made within admin positions and running of departments the right way. BOTTOM LINE !

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