RUMFORD – Joint efforts in the solid waste and ambulance services, the merger of the school departments, and the shared sewer system have been successful for two or more area towns over the years.

Mexico Town Manager John Madigan believes additional regional cooperative efforts could also help the area.

He and his selectmen met with their Rumford counterparts Thursday night to try to find one or more additional ways they could work together to provide more efficient services.

“All are expensive services to provide, too expensive for one town to have alone,” he said.

By the end of the hour-long meeting, the boards decided to meet again, with neighboring Dixfield or any other River Valley town that desires to, to continue discussion of somehow joining the public works departments.

During past regionalization talks, participants had focused on the police or fire departments. This time, they decided that public works may be the best way to go.

“We all don’t need graders or steamers. That’s ridiculous,” Madigan said.

Rumford board Chairman Greg Buccina said things will change over time, and working toward a merger of public works departments may be a good first step.

“Regionalization doesn’t mean we’ll slash jobs,” he said.

Rumford must maintain about 86 miles of road while Mexico maintains only 29 miles.

“In sharing equipment, we’d have to figure out a ratio to share costs,” he said.

That is but one of the issues that will be researched prior to the next joint meeting. Others include an inventory of highway equipment, areas to be covered, and winter/summer road matters, among other things.

In the meantime, Rumford Town Manager Jim Doar, Dixfield Town Manager Tom Richmond, and Madigan will meet next week to continue discussions about possible cooperation. The managers will also meet with their respective public works crews to let them know that their departments are being discussed.

“This is very preliminary. It doesn’t mean it will work,” said Buccina.

Mexico board Chairwoman Barbara Laramee, who has supported finding ways for neighboring towns to share services, believes working out a plan first, then bringing it to department heads may be more successful than the last time the towns tried to work out a cooperative effort.

During that effort, the department heads were brought in first, and plans were never fully developed.

Tentative plans right now are to come up with a financial and logistical strategy for Rumford, Mexico, and possibly Dixfield and other towns that could be presented to department heads, then to voters in June.

The next joint meeting will be scheduled an hour prior to a Mexico selectmen’s meeting. The Mexico board meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.

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