RUMFORD – Officials unanimously agreed Thursday to ask town meeting voters if they want to merge the towns of Rumford and Mexico.

The decision came after a short discussion at Thursday night’s Board of Selectmen meeting.

Before they place the nonbinding question on the ballot, Mexico selectmen will have to vote to do the same on their town meeting ballot, and both questions must be worded identically.

The discussion began after Chairman J. Arthur Boivin read the agenda item.

“Is this a Frank thing?” one selectman promptly and loudly asked, indicating Selectman Frank DiConzo.

“Yes it is,” DiConzo quickly answered before stating his reasoning by campaigning for the issue rather than discussing the survey itself and what it would say.

“We’ve been talking about regionalization and costs saving, and I’ll continue to push for one or the other – regionalization or merging the towns. I look at this as a step towards joining the two towns. You could stand in one town and throw a rock across the river to the other town,” he said.

DiConzo said he firmly believes that Rumford and Mexico must merge to survive the current recession and uncertainty about whether the NewPage paper mill will close for good.

“I think we have to realize that we have to broaden our tax base and share resources, and that way we can lower the (tax) rate and reduce costs,” he said.

If the two towns are merged, then, DiConzo said, voters in both towns will get to pick a new Board of Selectmen and new elected officials.

The time has come, he argued, for change.

“A lot of people are against change, but I think it will be a good thing. A lot of things have to change in this community,” DiConzo said without elaborating on what those might be.

Selectman Robert Cameron, seated beside DiConzo, said he would support placing such a question on the ballot.

“I have always been in favor of this, but with one caveat: It’s got to save money,” Cameron said.

Town Manager Len Greaney then shared the earlier conversation he had with former Rumford town manager and current Mexico Town Manager John Madigan.

“He wasn’t saying this was stupid, but that we need to be careful how we word it and be clear,” Greaney said.

Conversation then shifted to having Mexico selectmen also put the survey question to Mexico residents so both boards would finally learn the will of the people.

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