RUMFORD — Selectmen approved a sewer rate hike of $25 per unit Thursday night, but tabled other money matters due to concerns about Gov. Paul LePage’s budget proposal.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said it’s the town’s responsibility to ensure that the Sewer Reserve Fund has enough money to replace sewer lines should they break.
He said Rumford has 44 to 45 miles of sewer lines, many of which are a century old or more.
He said that for many years, the town raised $100,000 annually for the reserve fund. The practice stopped due to budget constraints.
Rather than put the onus on taxpayers who aren’t sewer-system users, Puiia suggested to selectmen that they increase the 2013 rate.
He said the rate hike of $25 per unit would increase it from $119 to $144 per unit.
“Rumford’s rate would still remain the least expensive sewer rate in the state. Is that right, Tom?” Puiia asked of Tax Collector Tom Bourret.
“That’s right,” Bourret said.
Bourret said one River Valley town’s rate is in excess of $400. So Rumford’s new rate, if approved, would “still be quite a bargain,” he said.
Puiia said Rumford has 3,258 units and a total 2013 sewer rate assessment of $469,152.
He suggested allowing users to pay half of the amount owed by March 1 and the rest by Aug. 1.
When asked by a selectmen, Puiia said Rumford’s cost to process sewage remained the same. He said the rate hike is desired to grow the reserve fund. He said it would raise $81,450 annually.
Bourret told the board it isn’t nearly enough to raise yearly for such a fund, but “it’s a starting point.”
The board unanimously approved the hike.
In other business, selectmen unanimously agreed to table proposed safety work on Hosmer Field’s baseball infield and what to do about the Public Works sanding truck that was damaged in last month’s accident.
Selectman Jolene Lovejoy initially motioned to approve a Monmouth contractor’s bid of $16,415 to correct infield problems at Hosmer Field. It was seconded.
Selectman Chairman Greg Buccina asked Parks and Recreation Department manager Mike Mills if the project could be put off for a year or more until Rumford learns if the Legislature will approve LePage’s proposal to eliminate revenue sharing for two years.
Mills said there is an 8-inch drop from the baseline from first base to third base.
“It is pretty dangerous and it’s been like this for five to six years,” he said.
Selectman Jeremy Volkernick said he believes Mills and the department could do the work for less. After more discussion, Lovejoy rescinded her motion and moved to table it.
As for the 2001 International sanding truck, it and its sanding equipment were damaged during an ice storm on Dec. 9 when the truck tipped over as its driver attempted to reverse direction on Route 108 via a parking lot.
Public Works Superintendent Andy Russell said it would cost between $25,000 to $35,000 if his crew repaired the damage to the truck.
Puiia said the town’s insurance company had offered $18,100 for the 11-year-old truck that was due to be replaced in three years.
However, Selectman Brad Adley said he was concerned about its motor holding oil pressure because the engine wasn’t shut off when the truck tipped on its side.
The board agreed and tabled a decision.