Rumford board to query voters about forming a charter commission

RUMFORD — Selectmen decided Thursday night to ask voters on Nov. 8 if they want a charter commission formed to review or throw out the 1951 charter.

Terry Karkos/Sun Journal

Rumford resident Kevin Saisi asks selectmen Thursday night why they don't seek approval from voters on Nov. 8 to establish a charter commission rather than poll voters first to learn if they want one. Listening are Selectmen Jeremy Volkernick, center, Jeff Sterling and Chairman Greg Buccina.

Should a majority indicate they'd like a commission, the board would then budget for it this winter and seek a formal vote at the annual business meeting in June.

At issue are conflicts selectmen say they've had when trying to complete town business, Chairman Greg Buccina said.

“The charter as it is written has cost us some opportunities in this past year to take action, one being the police to get an officer for three years funded by the Justice Department,” he said.

In May, police Chief Stacy Carter sought permission to apply for an estimated $200,000 federal grant.

Pending its awarding, the money would have allowed Carter to hire a new police officer, paying three years of salary and benefits. The town's match was to pick up the fourth year.

Carter said he would use the new officer to reduce overtime and guaranteed the board that the savings would then be used to fund the fourth year so taxpayers wouldn't be affected.

However, because Rumford's charter states selectmen can't enter into an agreement that would bind the next Board of Selectmen, they denied the request.

“That was one,” Buccina said Thursday.

“There's been others where we've been limited on how we can act, and I believe that it is time to get a commission together to look at the charter to say, 'How can it be more business friendly? How can we look at reviewing it or is it needed? Do we really need it or can we rely on the ordinances?'”

Resident Kevin Saisi said he didn't understand why they want to poll voters.

“The board probably understands there are a number of things that probably need to be worked out that are addressed in the charter to prevent certain things from happening,” he said.

“And yet you're going to do a straw poll to find out whether or not people who don't know about these things want a charter commission?”

“I think it should be on the ballot in November saying, 'Shall the town form a charter commission as required by the charter?'” Saisi said.

“Why are you waiting? Why are you waiting to take care of these things?”

“I think it's time to take a good look at it, and Kevin's right to a point where maybe we should just get one going,” Buccina said.

“We don't need a straw poll to do that. I'm not totally opposed to it, but what I am in favor of is getting some people together to look at it and make a recommendation.”

“Do we need it or do we not need it?” Buccina asked. “Or if we're going to continue having it, let's refine it so that so that we can get business done.”

Saisi said the charter has been updated and modernized over the years.

“There's only one clause that actually impeded the town from doing what you were suggesting, and we don't throw out an entire charter just because one clause got in the way,” Saisi said.

“It's a good idea to try and make it more friendly toward what is in the best interest of the town.”

However, Town Manager Carlo Puiia reminded them that they can't form a charter commission in November because there isn't any money available in the budget for it.

Selectman Jeff Sterling then motioned to place the straw poll question on the Nov. 8 ballot to form a charter commission. It was approved 4-0.

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Tony Capola's picture

Select your words carefully

Mr. DiConzo needs to pay more attention to his spelling and less time on personal attacks. His position is weakened by his oratory directed at town officials. Most readers will understand some of what he is trying to say but it gets lost in the verbal attacks on town officials, elected and appointed. In this instance I agree with his apparent point that this is not the time to create another Charter Commission. If there's a problem with the current version fix it; don't look to rewrite the whole thing. The people of Rumford are able to better understand an attempt to fix an error or update troubling language. They have little endurance for something that requires them to thoroughly review a lengthy document likely to contain hidden and not-so-hidden articles. It’s doubtful that a revised charter will result in an immediate savings for the town. I ask our Select Board to spend more time overseeing the day-to-day running of our town and less time on so-called "Hot Button" items. We are out of money folks and steps need to be taken to limit spending not addressing less than critical matters. We're onboard the Titanic AFTER it hit the iceberg and some are out arranging the deck chairs while others are worrying about tomorrows menu.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Fix it

Mr Capola, Fixing the Charter to the extent that is required DOES require a Charter Commission. Anytime you are making a change that affects the way decisions are being decided, or shifting power from one entity to another, you need a Charter Commission.

The big problem that has prompted the suggestion of doing away with the Charter is that the Board of Selectmen are not allowed to obligate the town beyond the next Town Meeting. That means they must call a special town meeting to get permission to hire an additional police officer under a three year grant, because the grant requires them to fund the position for a forth year. Some contend that the selectmen, who are elected for three year terms, should be able to make decisions that extend beyond their time in office. Others assert that the decision should remain with the citizens.


Is incapable for not making decisions. They have wasted time on wind and got nothing else down. Now they want to waste more time with a straw poll. What good will that do. People straw poll said they wanted wind and look what has happened. Kiss away any deal that could have been made for the town. There are members of this board that know what has to be done, but done right with the right people doing it,but again this board is incapable of making decisions. This board is a real comedy show and the chair is the head comedian. They will choose who they want and it will be the same ones that messed up the process the last time. The Charter and Ordinances need tweeking but tweeked with the right people,not ones with their own agendas like three of the people on this present board. There should have been a Charter Commision already working. At what cost? NONE! Civic duty. Like school boards and select boards should be. Start taking care of what needs attention. like the damage on Spruce and Maine Ave.; the trees on Congress that are ruining our side walks; redoing each corner entance on Conress street. WOOPS! Don't have the manpower because we don't contract out major road construction at cheaper cost, do we. In competent people on boards and in dept. head seats. The people continue to speak by putting statues on the selectboard.

Kevin Saisi's picture

Hey Frankie...

I know a guy who will handle that tree problem at no cost to the town :) :p


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