RUMFORD – People will have a chance to learn the reasoning behind eight proposed changes to the town’s charter at a public hearing scheduled for 7 p.m. Monday.

The hearing, which could be the first of two if necessary, will be held in the Municipal Auditorium. It is a requirement to be held prior to the June 10 ballot vote on proposed charter changes.

Commission Chairman Walter Buotte said former state Sen. Norman Ferguson will moderate the hearing.

Each member of the commission will explain one change, then comments will be taken from those attending.

Proposed changes to the document are:

• allow the town manager to live within the River Valley area, as defined by the chamber of commerce, rather than restricting him or her to living in Rumford;

• dissolve the Finance Committee;

• modify the number of signatures required on a petition;

• restrict town officials to serving on one committee at a time;

• change the elective positions of town clerk/treasurer and tax collector to appointive positions;

• increase the number of selectmen from five to seven;

• require selectmen training by the Maine Municipal Association; and

• require town managers to have economic development and labor relations experience, and provide flexibility in a town manager’s initial contract.

Buotte said the purpose of the hearing is to give people a chance to learn why the recommendations are being made.

“We want people to know what we were thinking,” he said.

Each proposal will appear on the June ballot as a separate article, so residents can support or reject each suggestion rather than vote on all of the proposed changes.

The eight-person charter panel has been meeting for 18 months. During that time members reviewed the 50-page document one page at a time. Voters established the Charter Commission nearly two years ago.

The commission has been at the center of some controversy. A majority of the Board of Selectmen voted to dismiss the members, then the board was overruled by the Board of Appeals.

More than 40 changes to the charter have been made over the years. The charter is more than 50 years old.

Buotte said if the first hearing elicits a substantial amount of interest, then the commission will hold a brief meeting after Monday’s hearing to decide whether to set a second hearing.

Once the hearing has been held, the commission will meet later in the month to finalize the changes for presentation to selectmen in April.


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