RUMFORD — Selectmen voted 3-1 Thursday to approve a town meeting warrant to decide on a welfare budget and funding for Black Mountain.

The move comes one day after an injunction was filed in Rumford District Court to block a revote on Black Mountain’s request. The revote, scheduled for Aug. 27, was initiated by a petition.

A majority of voters at the annual town meeting in June did not raise money for welfare or Black Mountain. The warrant articles approved Thursday list $35,000 for a welfare budget and $51,000 for Black Mountain.

Town Manager Carlo Puiia said the injunction was filed by Alan T. Gerace, Paul Lowell, former Selectman Frank R. DiConzo, Selectman Mark N. Belanger and Ronald J. Theriault, with Theriault acting as the group’s lawyer.

Puiia said the five men base their legal action on the belief that Rumford violated its charter by allowing a revote on a petition-initiated article. A district court judge is expected to rule Friday on whether or not to grant a temporary injunction, blocking the Aug. 27 vote until the matter can be decided in court.

At the June 8 town meeting, 657 residents voted to not give Black Mountain any money; 420 voted to give it $56,700, and 637 voted to give it $51,000.

Black Mountain officials contend that people wanted to fund the resort, but were split on the amount so they circulated a petition to bring it up for another vote.

The town charter states that if neither amount is approved by the majority of voters,  the article is “defeated and the amount appropriated will be zero.”

At Thursday night’s meeting, resident Rick Green asked Belanger why he would support the injunction, because he thought it was illegal for a selectman to do so.

“I don’t think standing up for the town charter is illegal,” Belanger said. “I’ve stood up for it before and I’ll stand up for it again.”

Selectman Jeff Sterling characterized the injunction as “an honest disagreement on what the charter says.”

“I don’t hold anything against Mark or why he signed to be a part of the injunction,” he said. “It’s certainly an honest disagreement, and it will be one to be decided by a judge, as disagreements should be.”

The welfare article is the board’s third attempt to get voters to approve a budget, after amounts of $70,021 and $60,000 were defeated.

On Thursday, they voted 3-1 for an article recommending a budget of $35,000, of which $25,000 would be for assistance, $10,000 for wages for a welfare director, and $5,000 is Mexico’s reimbursement for having Rumford’s director handle its General Assistance program.

Belanger was the lone dissenter. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick was absent.

During the informational meeting, selectmen and Puiia stressed that voters should approve the proposed welfare budget.

“You’ve cut the budget in half,” resident Jim Rinaldo said. “What more can you do?”

In anticipation that voters would approve it, Puiia said he’s reduced Welfare Director Thelma Giberson’s work hours to 12 per week.

Additionally, she only takes appointments between 10 a.m. and noon, and 1 to 4 p.m. on Monday and Friday, and works from 9 to 10 a.m. both days doing paperwork.

“If it doesn’t get approved, we may as well let the state take over,” Selectman Greg Buccina said.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: