RUMFORD – Nearly 150 voters wrapped up the public portion of the annual town meeting Monday night within 35 minutes by taking action on four articles. Then the meeting turned into a public hearing on the warrant’s remaining 31 articles.

Forty minutes later, they had only gotten to Article 6, which asked them to raise more than three-quarters of a million dollars to run the municipal offices.

This is the town’s first year to raise a municipal budget by referendum at the June 12 primary election.

Rob Cameron, a former state legislator, won the moderator’s job over former Selectman Eugene Boivin by a vote of 68-52.

He asked voters to be respectful of each other, to be as informative and as pleasant as possible.

“We hope to make this a watershed year. We’re embarking on a new adventure, a new approach to doing town business,” he said.

In Rumford’s more than 200-year history, the New England traditional annual town meeting has been the method used for raising money to run government for the ensuing year. Last November, voters decided to conduct town business by referendum, in large part to give more people a chance to participate.

Once the moderator was chosen, the annual report accepted, and salaries set for town officials, voters devoted more than half an hour to discussing whether the state recommended tax cap increase of $132,362 should be exceeded. According to state law, towns may raise more money than the state recommends if a majority agrees. Rumford voters will decide that at the polls on June 12.

As the proposed budget is written, and if all articles are approved as recommended by the Finance Committee at referendum, the municipal budget will be $90,430 over that recommended by the state, acting Town Manager Stacy Carter said.

“We’ve pared down as much as we can without eliminating services,” he said.

When questioned why selectmen did not reduce some services prior to the municipal budget proposal, Selectman Chairman Jim Rinaldo said the board held off until a straw poll asking if voters want to reduce, maintain or increase fire, police, public works, and other municipal services is taken and compiled.

Those questions will also be answered at the polls next week.

Selectman Greg Buccina said once that is done, special meetings will be held to discuss the results and to make recommendations.

When voters go to the polls next week, they will decide whether to approve or reject a proposed $7.5 million municipal budget. They will also decide whether to approve a SAD 43 school budget that could nearly double the municipal budget amount.

The number of people attending the abbreviated annual town meeting Monday was just about equal to the number who generally attend a town meeting.