Rumford board unclear on request to buy 3/4-ton truck and trailer

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RUMFORD — Selectmen on Thursday night failed to reach a decision about a light dump truck and trailer requested for the Parks and Recreation Department.

Selectmen made and rescinded a confusing mix of motions while trying to determine the best approach to resolve their refusal in November to allow the department to approve a bid for the three-quarter-ton truck and trailer. The money for it has been budgeted.

The issue has been tabled since December when it was brought back before the board on appeal.

At the Feb. 6 meeting, selectmen tabled action on the request to replace the one-ton truck with a three-quarter-ton truck following a discussion with Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Dan Richard. The commission serves as an advisory board to the department.

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The board asked Town Manager John Madigan to research their actions from previous meetings.

On Feb. 6, Richard said he was appealing the board’s action in November to have Parks and Recreation Director Mike Mills get quotes to repair the truck.

However, at Thursday night’s meeting, Town Manager John Madigan said the only action the board took on Nov. 21 was to vote 4-0 on Selectman Frank DiConzo’s motion to not approve the department’s request to buy a three-quarter-ton truck. Selectmen did ask Mills to get quotes to repair the truck.

Richard reiterated Thursday night that in November, the Parks and Recreation Commission approved a bid for $25,388 for a new truck with plow and the old truck as a trade-in at $4,500. The dump trailer bid was for $7,031.

Madigan said the Parks and Recreation Department has $246,000 in its capital equipment account.

“Just because there is money in the account doesn’t mean it has to be spent,” Selectman Chairman Greg Buccina said.

He errantly said money in the capital account could be used to buy down the tax rate.

DiConzo suggested that instead of buying a new truck, selectmen give the Parks and Recreation Department the pickup truck that Andy Russell, Public Works Department superintendent and highway foreman, uses.

“Then what would the highway foreman use to do his job?” Madigan asked.

“He doesn’t need one,” DiConzo said.

DiConzo said he wasn’t going to rescind his Nov. 21 motion against buying a new truck until they check the Public Works Department to see if there’s an available pickup truck to use. He said he’s aware of at least four pickup trucks at the highway department.

Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said the board should listen to its department heads who know what they need to do their jobs.

Buccina told Mills and Richard that if they know they need a new truck, to stick to that when coming before selectmen rather than buckling to selectmen, telling them to get estimates to repair the truck.

“Who would put $6,000 into a truck that’s only worth $4,500?” Mills asked. “And to clarify another thing, you can’t use capital funds to reduce taxes. That’s illegal.”

Mills said they should have replaced the 14-year-old truck six years ago when they first brought the matter to the board.

“I have no doubt in my mind that we need to replace that truck,” Selectman Brad Adley, a used car dealer, said. “It’s crazy to put $6,000 into a 2000 truck.”

Without the repairs, the truck will not get an inspection sticker, Richard previously said.

Buccina said he didn’t think the pickup trucks that DiConzo mentioned were suitable three-quarter-ton trucks. Instead, he said he thinks they’re half-ton trucks.

Buccina said selectmen should either go with DiConzo’s view and check the Public Works Department for a suitable truck or allow the Parks and Recreation Department to buy a new truck and trailer.

Lovejoy motioned to rescind DiConzo’s Nov. 21 motion against replacing the truck. It was approved 4-0. Adley said he was abstaining because he was confused about whether he could vote where he was absent on Nov. 21.

DiConzo motioned to buy the truck as described if Rumford doesn’t have a pickup truck at the Public Works Department that can be used.

Adley reiterated that Richard asked to buy a light dump truck, not a pickup truck. “It’s got to be a three-quarter-ton,” he said.

Lovejoy said she wouldn’t support DiConzo’s motion, saying they’d delayed the process long enough.

Buccina told the board to give Richard the authority to put it out to bid again but a vote wasn’t taken.

It also wasn’t clear if selectmen OK’d DiConzo’s motion or needed to. But Richard was told to check with the dealers to see if they would still honor their bids 90 days later. 

tkarkos@sunjournal.com

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