Town meeting still on, despite group challenge

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RUMFORD – Monday’s special town meeting calling for voter action on a proposal to bring the Municipal Building up to life and safety codes will go on as scheduled.

A group calling itself Concerned Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, with local businessman Ron Theriault as spokesman, challenged selectmen on Thursday on the legality of the 6 p.m. special town meeting.

Theriault questioned, among other things, whether the town’s Finance Committee had recommended that the town fund the requested $828,000 through the Maine Bond Bank.

Selectmen weren’t sure Thursday, but a call to Finance Committee Chairwoman Jolan Ippolito on Thursday night revealed that her committee had called a special meeting on Dec. 20 to act on the recommendation.

“We recommended that,” she said. “At the June town meeting, the town can make a recommendation to fund another way.”

Theriault also claimed that the language on the warrant for Monday’s special town meeting was confusing, particularly because the warrant offers a funding process for both the $828,000 as well as for a higher figure, $1.2 million.

“The end product is unclear,” Theriault said. “There should be no reference to Option 2 (the $1.2 million).”

Selectman Greg Buccina said the town’s lawyer had reviewed the warrant before it was published and approved it.

Town Manager Stephen Eldridge said the wording on the warrant was checked by not only the town’s lawyer, but also by the lawyer for the Maine Bond Bank.

“They felt it was clear,” he said.

He said if the town meeting had been delayed, the chance to borrow from the bond bank would have expired.

The town is under an order from the State Fire Marshal’s Office to repair and renovate the Municipal Building so that it meets life and safety codes. A representative from the state office said in November that if a plan is not in place, the building could be closed.

The higher figure, which was the sum the Municipal Building Committee had originally recommended, was included in the town warrant so that that amount of money could be borrowed if residents decide to fund the higher figure at the special town meeting, board Chairman Jim Rinaldo said.

Both selectmen and the Finance Committee recommend the lower figure.

Theriault said the Concerned Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility is a group of 12 Rumford people. He did not name them.

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