Rumford voters approve $8.84 million municipal budget

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RUMFORD — Voters on Tuesday approved a 2018-19 municipal budget of $8.84 million, an increase of 3.13 percent.

Town Clerk Beth Bellegarde said voters approved the entire warrant.

Town Manager Linda-Jean Briggs said part of the budget increase is reflected in funding for a full-time economic development director and a part-time assistant finance director.

The town manager said with part-time economic developer Jim Rinaldo retiring in June, she requested a full-time economic developer, with an initial salary of $65,020 and benefits for a total of $95,000.

Briggs said the town puts $50,000 each year into the economic development capital account, which has a balance of $198,055.

She said she thinks the salary would be enough to attract a developer with a degree.

“But it is on the low end,” she said. “This department will pay for itself in grant and other financial opportunities.”

Briggs said the position of finance director, filled for 30 years by Debbie Laurinaitis, includes too many hours for one person. Having a 20-hour-per-week person also presents an opportunity to train someone to take the full-time position when Laurinaitis retires.

Voters also approved spending $59,000 on the Rumford police K-9 proposal.

Police Chief Stacy Carter said his department is looking to start a police canine program to address the area’s drug problem.

“The K-9 is only going to boost the amount of cases and amount of drugs we’re able to get because there’s a whole lot of work happening by patrol,” Carter said.

“Having a K-9 readily available, we may be able to have probable cause to search a vehicle and get a load of drugs off the street.”

He believes those opportunities are going to magnify, and “we’re going to see a lot more seizures and prosecutions. That’s the hope of having a K-9.”

Carter said his department should be able to support the K-9 program through drug forfeitures.

“The problem I foresee is that forfeitures sometimes sit in limbo for a long time waiting for the prosecution to be completed through the court system,” he said. “Sometimes it takes a year or two years.”

He said the K-9 officer would be available if it’s needed in Mexico, Dixfield and Peru.

“Through equitable sharing, if we have a part in that investigation, then we may get a part of those seizures,” Carter said.

“We’re working very hard to fund this outside of public funding, and any private funds or grants we get will offset public funding,” he said.

He said the department would need a vehicle for the K-9 officer.

“We’re looking for a grant through U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development that may fund the vehicle, and other smaller grants to help offset the cost of the K-9 and training,” he said.

“We’re also reaching out to Walmart for a community grant specifically for a K-9.”

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