RUMFORD — Finance Committee members began work Tuesday night to determine new municipal budget recommendations.

Town meeting referendum voters defeated the initial municipal budget on June 11, prompting a renewed effort by selectmen and the Finance Committee to develop a new proposed budget.

Chairman Dieter Kreckel laid down some ground rules, saying he wouldn’t tolerate any name-calling, screaming or disrespect.

“We’re all here to make this town work,” he said.

In the first two hours of the meeting, committee members tackled budgets for police and animal control, the Fire Department, emergency management, and the town clerk’s office and elections before taking a 10-minute break.

The police and fire budgets generated the most discussion.

Kreckel started by asking police Chief Stacy Carter several questions about the impact to the department from the Board of Selectmen’s recommendation last week of $716,274.

Carter said that would eliminate a detective position, the administrative officer and the use of a utility officer used to offset overtime costs, close the dispatching office and weaken the department’s drug enforcement abilities and investigations into sexual assaults, burglaries, thefts, motor vehicle thefts and aggravated assaults.

When asked by Kreckel if Oxford County deputies or state troopers would come in and take over these duties, Carter said, “Absolutely not.”

Carter said police investigations would be prioritized based on the seriousness of the offense as time becomes available.

When asked what it would mean if the police budget was reduced further, Carter said manpower would be cut.

When asked why the department cannot rely on mutual aid, Carter said it’s not always available when it’s needed.

“To cut budgets to rely on mutual aid is not a good choice,” he said. “They may not be available.”

After considerable discussion, committee member Jeffrey Roy motioned for $761,274, a difference of $45,000 from the selectmen’s recommendation.

Roy said he added back in the salary and benefits of the second detective. It was approved 7-1 with Kreckel dissenting.

“I think we’re incredibly lucky to have the police force we have here,” committee member Richard Greene said. “I think they do an amazing job. We can’t look for other communities to come bail us out of whatever budget crisis we have.”

For the animal control budget, the committee voted 8-0 for the $23,563 that Chief Carter recommended. It’s the same amount approved by selectmen.

The committee then took the town clerk’s office and elections out of order, approving $79,390 for the former and $26,800 for the latter. These are the same recommendations as selectmen.

The committee discussed the Fire Department budget at length with Chief Bob Chase and asked him to provide them with percentage cuts and their impacts.

To fight a structure fire, he said it initially requires two interior-attack firefighters to enter a burning building and two firefighters to remain outside.

He said the selectmen’s recommendation of $625,528 would reduce his station crew from three to two firefighters. That means they could only respond with one firetruck.

Chase said the department has had great mutual aid with surrounding towns, especially Mexico. However, he said he doesn’t know the future of that department since voters there also cut the budget and, unlike Rumford, approved a budget cap.

That, Chase said, may mean Rumford may or may not get a mutual aid firefighter from Mexico.

Chase said he would love to see the Finance Committee’s original recommendation of $724,827 from the defeated budget brought back, then he offered $687,877.  He said that would reduce his three-man staff at the station to a two-man staff for a third of the time.

Roy motioned to try the $724,827 again, but that was defeated by a 4-4 tie. Committee member Louanne Cameron motioned for $687,877, but that, too, was defeated by a 4-4 tie.

After more discussion, committee member Ted Hotham motioned for $675,000. That died in a 4-4 tie.

Greene tried the $687,877 amount again and it was approved 8-0. The committee agreed with selectmen and unanimously OK’d raising and appropriating $6,237 for emergency management.

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