RUMFORD – Based on ballot results, annual town meeting voters hit the polls on Tuesday to reduce the $7 million municipal budget desired by selectmen.

They pared the proposed $7,055,685 budget by $91,400 to $6,964,285, although that has yet to be confirmed by selectmen, who are still reviewing the results, new Town Manager Carlo Puiia said on Wednesday in the town office.

“Now, we have to make it work,” Puiia said. “The citizens want to see some reduction.”

“We will see what the selectmen feel they want to do, especially based on the budgets that were approved,” he added.

Voters chose the lowest recommendations for both police and fire departments, despite earlier requests by interim Public Safety Director and police Chief Stacy Carter to choose the higher amounts.

On the police budget, 614 voters OK’d the selectmen recommendation of $803,430, while 394 wanted the Finance Committee recommendation of $814,230; 171 voters wanted neither amount.

Of the fire budget, 678 voters OK’d the committee recommendation of $675,000, 359 wanted the selectmen recommendation of $700,000; 147 people chose neither amount.

Puiia said it will be up to department heads to make the new budgets work. Selectmen and the committee only approved a blanket amount, meaning they didn’t base their recommendations on itemized budgeting estimates.

Among the other municipal items, a majority OK’d spending $790,308 for general government; $680,340 for health and sanitation; $1,085,330 for public works; $227,000 for capital accounts; $461,262 for public service (library, municipal planning, and park commission); $348,403 for debt service; and $991,450 for unclassified accounts ($15,000 for a contingency fund and $976,450 for insurance and Social Security).

Under social service articles, voters mostly went with lower recommended amounts, agreeing to spend a total of $208,570 on 24 of 26 requests.

By majority votes of 370 and 553, residents respectively chose not to fund both the River Valley Growth Council and the Strathglass Park Owners Assoc. Selectmen had recommended $7,200 for the council and $450 for the association.

A majority gave the Western Maine Veterans Advisory Committee $175, which was $15 more than the selectmen recommendation; and $527 for a nurse for Holy Savior School, which was $27 more than the Finance Committee recommendation.

Additionally, the higher amount for the nurse beat out a zero dollars appropriation by just one vote, 381-380, as did a request for testing funding for Holy Savior School. On the latter, 384 voters chose the selectmen recommendation of $1,500, while 383 people didn’t want to fund the request.

Voters overwhelmingly OK’d all proposed ordinances and ordinance amendments, and 13 charter amendments accidentally omitted from last year’s annual town meeting ballot.

By a 993-130 tally, Rumford now has a sex offender ordinance that restricts convicted sex offenders from moving into areas where concentrations of children exist.

By a 668-489 tally, voters want a Public Safety Director who will oversee both the police and fire departments.

Of the non-binding town meeting advisory referendum, 751 voters said they would support and permit the installation of wind turbines in Rumford; 364 said they wouldn’t.

The ballots took longer to count this year due mainly to some close voting tallies and ballots that the computerized voting machines wouldn’t read, Puiia said. Those had to be counted by hand.

“The (ballot) warden wanted to be as accurate as he could be, so as not to release incorrect information, because some of those numbers were close,” he said.

Puiia also spoke highly of the number of residents who turned out to vote despite Tuesday’s rain.

“We had a good turnout considering the weather,” he said. “Twelve hundred voters is admirable.”


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