RUMFORD — Should voters approve a proposed charter change in November, next year selectmen can appoint lawyers who don't live here as town attorney.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick's idea was chosen Thursday night over one mentioned by Town Manager Carlo Puiia in which the charter doesn't jive with state law for nomination papers.
During the annual process last month to appoint a lawyer as town attorney, Volkernick and Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said they wanted an attorney experienced with Maine municipalities.
Additionally, selectmen created three tax-increment financing districts in town this year to grow economic development. Lovejoy and Volkernick said that's why they also wanted an attorney who specializes in TIFs for a more cost-effective approach.
However, the charter restricts appointments to lawyers who live in Rumford.
“We work for the taxpayers to find the best attorney for the best price, and I feel we couldn't do that this time because of the town charter,” Volkernick told board members last month.
During a discussion Thursday night to approve a possible charter amendment for the November ballot, Vice Chairman Jeff Sterling mentioned Volkernick's proposal.
He also rekindled board interest in changing the bid process, which he said is also hampered by charter restrictions.
However, Puiia said it's ordinances and not the charter that require anything costing more than $2,000 be placed out to bid. That amount was only $1,000 until voters in 2007 approved upping it to $2,000, he said.
Puiia then broached a third proposal.
Reading from the charter, he said nomination petitions for elective offices must be filed with the town clerk no sooner than 45 days and not later than 30 days prior to such election.
However, state law, Puiia said, requires absentee ballots to go out to voters 30 days prior to the vote.
That's why people taking out papers are always told to get their papers in early, Puiia said.
Sterling asked Puiia if he'd received any proposed charter changes from the public, to which the town manager said no.
Selectman Brad Adley then motioned they place Volkernick's proposal on the ballot. It was seconded.
“I think it will open a lot of opportunities,” Volkernick said.
However, the board then tabled their vote to add it to the ballot pending legal review and language drafting.
In other business, selectmen approved statewide police authority for Rumford police Capt. Daniel Garbarini and Detective Sgt. James Bernard.
Chief Stacy Carter said Maine law requires board approval to allow the two detectives to build cases in other jurisdictions on suspects who commit crimes in Rumford, but live elsewhere.