Rumford needs more committee members

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RUMFORD — The title of the committee may not look appealing, but Town Manager John Madigan said it’s very important for the town’s future — and they need members.

It’s called the Implementation Committee. At the Board of Selectmen’s meeting Thursday, Madigan explained the purpose of the committee is to set a longterm plan for the town’s comprehensive plan. The committee will serve under the Planning Committee, charged with providing updates of the plan to the Board of Selectmen.

The committee will consist of two Planning Board members, a selectman and two citizens, along with two alternates for citizens.

Selectman Frank DiConzo said he’ll represent the board. However, to date, no citizens have taken out applications from the town office for the committee.

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Kevin Saisi, who chaired the committee to update the Comprehensive Plan, said that with just three people, they can at least begin the process.

Without this committee, Madigan said all the work that went into creating this document might just end up on a shelf collecting dust.

In a related matter, the town is also in need of two people to serve on the Finance Committee. They are need as soon as possible as the budget process is getting underway.

Both committees are being advertised again. It’s hoped appointments can be made at the next board meeting on Feb. 20.

In other business, the board voted 4-0 to give local economic development group Envision Rumford! $850 from the town’s economic development account.

The funds were sought by Envision Rumford! member Jennifer Kreckel to cover the filing fee for the group of volunteers to apply as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. She said members have been funding the group’s needs with their own money to help the local economy grow, noting that the group needs to attain nonprofit status to compete with other organizations for grants.

However, selectmen spoke against a requested made by Gary Dolloff for donation of $10,000 from cable franchise fees to offset some unforeseen costs that will help bring the century-old Greater Rumford Community Center building up to fire code.

Dolloff, who is chairman of the GRCC Board of Directors, said, ‘So, I’m hoping for the $10,000 or whatever you guys can give to help us.’

Board member Brad Adley asked the board and Town Manager John Madigan if using cable franchise fees had to meet certain criteria. ‘It isn’t a slush fund.’

Board Chairman Greg Buccina said that a few years ago, selectmen committed themselves to donate two-third of the fees to the Western Valley Access Channel. The balance was to be used at the board’s discretion.

‘However, we’ve used it in the past for Fourth of July events that might enhance the town,’ he noted.

Madigan said there is $53,000 in cable franchise fees that aren’t being given to the local access channel. He said it was carried forward for two years to save towards replacing the sound system in Rumford Fall Auditorium. However, they have been negotiating with Time Warner to cover that cost and make this a live remote. He said that normally that money would be returned to the general fund to offset taxes.

Selectman Jolene Lovejoy apologized to Dolloff in telling him that selectmen can’t buck the will of the June town meeting when residents voted against funding the GRCC to cover its operational and program costs.

Dolloff responded by saying that the GRCC enhances the town and the fees are to be used at the board’s discretion.

Buccina agreed. He said town meeting voters didn’t approve funding for the center via the initiated article process. He added that the board couldn’t set a precedent to fund struggling businesses.

Adley agreed, noting, ‘My concern is that we’re going against the will of the voters. Like it or not, they voted not to fund the center.’

Buccina invited Dolloff to meet with the board in executive session to discuss the matter further. He suggested the town could refinance their loan to the GRCC to delay payments.

Dolloff said he wanted it kept in open session. ‘We went from getting $138,000 to zero. I’m in this because I believe in what I’m doing. We’re trying to do everything right and stay open.’

Selectman Frank DiConzo said he wouldn’t support giving the GRCC either via cable fees or the board’s contingency fund. ‘If we did something now with the cable fee and contingency funds, we will have a firestorm. The people voted and we have to respect that. To do this now, I just can’t do it.’

Dolloff then decided to rescind his request.

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