RUMFORD — Thursday night’s public hearing on the new proposed municipal budget attracted a large crowd, many of whom came to share their opinions.

The impassioned talk, which was still ongoing two hours into the meeting on the first of 12 articles, reflected the views of people who either favored the selectmen’s or Finance Committee’s recommendations.

Selectmen recommend raising and appropriating $791,421, which is $1.07 million less than the requested amounts by department heads. The Finance Committee recommend raising and appropriating $799,080, which is $430,036 less than requested amounts.

When the meeting began at 7 p.m., Town Manager Carlo Puiia explained his three spreadsheets, telling voters just how their property taxes would be affected depending whether they approve the selectmen or committee recommendations.

He also urged voters to approve the Finance Committee’s recommendation for Public Health and Sanitation to keep curbside trash pickup. The selectmen’s budget eliminates that.

Puiia said his numbers show that the average taxpayer pays Rumford $15 a year to have their trash collected.

Additionally, he said the Finance Committee is allowed to add money to the Contingency Fund, which is what the committee did to fund Black Mountain ski area and the Greater Rumford Community Center. Their requests for funding were killed on June 11 by voters who defeated their initiated article requests.

Puiia also told voters not to believe information being posted on Facebook, which he called “Gossip-book.”

Dieter Kreckel, chairman of the Finance Committee, then explained why he voted to increase the budget from what the selectmen cut.

“I agree that services should be merged with other towns to reduce costs,” he said. “Why that hasn’t been done, I don’t know.”

He said he doesn’t believe the police and fire departments budgets should be cut as drastically as selectmen pared them, because their services are needed in Rumford and at Rumford Hospital where he works as a doctor.

“While I agree with cuts, we need to be smart about it,” Kreckel said. “The Finance Committee gave the people a second chance to see if they really want to cut out these services.”

He said that when he moved to Rumford 20 years ago, he wanted to help take care of the town.

“We need to work together to help this town grow into the future, with the mill or without the mill,” Kreckel said, referring to the NewPage Corp. paper mill.

He said that sharply reducing the budget will render Rumford a dysfunctional town.

Resident Phil Blampied argued that defeating the budgets in June forced private businesses like Black Mountain and the Greater Rumford Community Center to pursue other funding venues rather than rely on town subsidies. He wanted to see more cuts, especially across the board on town employee wages.

But Puiia said town employees had earned those wages over the years and are being paid comparably to other towns like Rumford.

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