Mexico, Rumford boards to discuss police budgets, cost-sharing formula at Jan. 7 meeting

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MEXICO — The Mexico and Rumford boards of selectmen will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 7, in the Calvin P. Lyons room of the Mexico Town Office to continue their discussion on consolidating police departments and a potential cost-sharing formula for a shared police budget.

Since September 2013, Mexico and Rumford have been looking at ways to consolidate services and save money. They hired Municipal Resources, a consulting company from New Hampshire, which said both towns could save money by merging.

During a Nov. 24 meeting in Mexico, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant presented a two-year contract proposal to take over police coverage in Rumford and Mexico.

Gallant said it would cost the towns more than $1.3 million for the first year and would decrease to $1.18 million during the second year. The proposal would provide 12 deputies to cover both towns.

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Following Gallant’s presentation, Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter and Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon presented a proposal to combine departments and work out of the Mexico police station, which is more spacious than Rumford’s station.

Carter and Hodsdon said that merging Rumford and Mexico’s police departments would cost $1.38 million, a savings of $120,632 for each town. There would be 15 officers. Currently, Rumford has 12 and Mexico has five.

During a Dec. 11 joint meeting, both Mexico and Rumford selectmen agreed that they needed to review Carter and Hodsdon’s proposal line-by-line, reserving the option to adjust certain numbers.

Rumford Chairman Greg Buccina said at the Dec. 11 meeting that there was “nothing to say that we have to exactly abide by this proposal.”

“With all due respect to Chief Carter, we have to look at what would serve us best,” Buccina said.

Much of the discussion at the Dec. 11 meeting centered around how the cost of a single police department for both towns would be split.

While Mexico Selectman Albert Aniel said he believed the town of Mexico couldn’t afford to match Rumford’s police budget, Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter said that the selectmen had to “act carefully when negotiating” to avoid lowering Rumford police officers’ wages.

“I don’t want to be driving four or five experienced police officers out of town,” Carter said.

mdaigle@sunjournal.com

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