Despite budget growth, Rumford eyes tax cut


RUMFORD – Town officials are aiming to bring in a municipal budget that will meet the state’s tax cap requirements while maintaining the level of services residents expect.

Right now, that means a tentative municipal budget of $7.3 million, up about 6.5 percent from last year’s adopted figure of $6.9 million.

Town Manager Steve Eldridge said much of that increase can be attributed to restoring the permanent road fund and the sewer fund that was frozen last year due to the tax cap limit.

Also, he said police, fire and highway costs, the highest funded services, are expected to increase by about 3.5 percent, depending on contract negotiations. All three union contracts expire at the end of June.

All personnel positions are expected to be retained, depending on settling the contracts, he said.

Other increases are caused by higher liability and health insurance premium costs.

During recent meetings on social service and special project requests, several agencies received less money than in the past. These include $95,000 for the Greater Rumford Community Center, down from $117,000; $70,000 for Black Mountain, down from $100,000; $28,400 for the summer recreation program, down from $39,500; $7,600 for St. Anthanasius and St. John School transportation, down from $14,000; and $4,500 for River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition, down from $6,000.

The total amount for initiated articles dropped 10 percent from last year’s $330,300 request.

Even if residents approve the higher proposed budget at town meeting in June, taxes may very well drop about a mill from the tax rate of $19.15 per $1,000 valuation because of the town’s decrease in school taxes. According to the latest figures from SAD 43, Rumford’s share of the district cost is expected to drop by about $1 million because of additional state aid to education.

The total budget, including school and county taxes, is expected to be $10.9 million, down from $11.5 in fiscal year 2005-06.

Selectmen are expected to adopt a budget for presentation to the public later this month. The annual town meeting is set for June 5.