MEXICO – Selectmen and the Budget Committee on Wednesday night made significant cuts in budget requests from the River Valley Growth Council, chamber of commerce, Black Mountain and other organizations.

The Growth Council, which has been strongly supported by the town for years, received approval for $10,000 from selectmen and nothing from the Budget Committee. It asked for $16,000.

“Charity begins at home,” said Budget Committee member Betty Barrett, who had advocated taking the council’s request and giving it to municipal employees in raises.

Committee member Byron Ouelette, who is also running for selectman, said he was tired of being held hostage by a $400,000 Community Development Block Grant that had helped the Growth Council establish the River Valley Technology Center. The town essentially co-signed for the grant and would be liable for repayment if 40 jobs were not created at the center.

“We’re being held hostage for something the majority of people didn’t have a clue about,” he said.

Rich Allen, president of the council, said if the organization did not receive sufficient funding, he believed a committed group would continue to try to meet the obligations, but he didn’t know what would happen.

“The straight answer, is I don’t know what would happen. Not supporting us wouldn’t help,” he said.

The River Valley Chamber of Commerce asked for $2,000, but got $1,500 from selectmen.

Black Mountain’s $2,500 request was reduced to $1,000.

Sectmen and the committee agreed to $500 for the Greater Rumford Community Center, which had asked for $1,000.

The River Valley Healthy Communities Coalition was granted $700 by selectmen and $500 by the committee. The American Red Cross request of $2,951, equivalent to $1 per person in the town, was cut to $1,500 by selectmen and $1,000 by the Budget Committee.

A few requests were granted: $230 each for Boys and Girls State and the $175 for the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Group.

Board of Selectmen Chairwoman Barbara Laramee said figures determined Wednesday may or may not change when the board and the Budget Committee hold one final meeting to review the entire proposed municipal budget at 5 p.m. April 15.

Residents will make the final decision when they vote on the spending package at a referendum June 9.


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