RUMFORD — The issue of hiring a consultant to tell selectmen and Town
Manager Carlo Puiia how to run the town more efficiently died Thursday
night for lack of a motion.

The efficiency study was tabled Jan. 7 after bids ranging from $5,000 to $40,000 were opened.

During public comments on Thursday, resident Paul Lowell chastised
the board for even considering hiring someone else to do what they
themselves were elected to do: run the town as efficiently as possible.

“It’s a waste of money,” Lowell said. “All of you folks can see what needs to be done.”

Selectman Frank DiConzo argued in favor of proceeding with the study
by hiring one of the bidders and finding the money for the work after
Puiia said nothing had been budgeted for it.

DiConzo said the board has been accused of micromanaging town
departments, rather than letting department heads do what the town
manager hired them to do. That’s why he’d like to have a third set of
eyes “show us where our shortcomings are, to find the inefficiencies
and how to save us money,” he said.

Selectman Mark Belanger said he would only support it if selectmen would actually use the results and not shelve them.

“The whole point of having this is that it would affect next year’s budget,” Belanger said.

Resident Kevin Saisi stepped to the podium and mildly berated the board.

“As I understand it — and correct me if I’m wrong — but it’s the
town manager’s job to make sure this town is running as efficiently as
possible,” Saisi said.

“Even if you only spend $5,000, I think this is a colossal waste of
money,” he said. “We all know what can be done and your only
justification for this that I can see for hiring somebody is that you
guys don’t want to be responsible to do what needs to be done.”

Belanger said it would be difficult, because the board knows all of
the town employees. “We know the people and we tend to be
uncomfortable,” he said.

“Well, then, resign,” Saisi said.

Lowell returned to the podium.

“You need to take responsibility,” he said. “When you take these jobs, you’ve got to be the bad guy sometimes.”

Selectman Jeff Sterling said he wouldn’t support hiring a consultant
because the town has people in place to do the work that needs to be
done.

Selectman Greg Buccina, who at the past two meetings told everyone
he would vote it down, changed his mind after speaking with two
business owners, he said.

But he would support it only if the consultant would guarantee
selectmen a return on the investment, meaning the town would save
whatever money it ended up paying for the work.

The matter, however, died for lack of a motion.

“I don’t think this is over yet,” Chairman Brad Adley said before moving to the next topic.

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At a Rumford Board of Selectmen meeting Thursday night, fire Chief Robert Chase, left, explains to resident Paul Lowell why he sought and got board approval to hire three firefighters for two years by using a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant. Lowell chastised selectmen for approving it, then asked if the town would have to pay for the firefighters’ salaries after the grant expired. Chase said he rehired three previously laid-off firefighters. Beyond the grant, there is no obligation on Rumford’s part to retain them, he said.


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