RUMFORD — For the fourth time in as many months, the Board of Selectmen gathered Thursday evening to approve new municipal budget amounts.

Selectmen passed reduced budget proposals for all eight unapproved municipal budgets, nearly a month after raising their recommendations to try to meet those of the Finance Committee.

The new budget recommendations of selectmen are as follows:

* $625,000 for the Fire Department

* $716,000 for the Police Department

* $874,000 for Public Works

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* $650,000 for Public Safety

* $60,000 for General Assistance

* $749,000 for General Government

* $358,000 for Capital Accounts

* $1,276,000 for Unclassified Accounts

All proposals passed 4-1, with Selectman Frank DiConzo dissenting, except for the General Assistance and Capital Accounts. With General Assistance, Selectmen Jeff Sterling and Jolene Lovejoy dissented, while DiConzo and Lovejoy voted against the Capital Accounts recommendation.

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Police Chief Stacy Carter defended the new $625,000 recommendation for the Police Department, explaining that anything lower would “reduce the ability of our department to provide a proper level of service to the community.”

“As it stands now, we’ll have to lay off another patrol officer and eliminate the detective position,” Carter said. “The detective will be worked back into the patrol ranks. The loss of the detective would certainly affect our ability to conduct investigations, but we’ll do as much as we can with what we have.”

DiConzo suggested to the board that they reduce the Police Department budget to $625,274, based on the size of the town and what he believes the department could function with.

“What does that mean for our town?” Selectman Brad Adley asked. “What does the number mean to the public?”

“I don’t think it means anything to the public,” DiConzo replied. “If they have faith in the Police Department to do their job with cuts, that means we suggest it. That means the force has to step up to the plate and do what they can with reduced manpower if the $625,274 is passed.”

Board Chairman Greg Buccina said, “I think it’s our duty to do what’s best for the town. Our job is to find a balance with respect to the taxpayers and to the manpower in the Police Department. It’s important to remember that these officers are employees who put their lives on the line to protect us.

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“I think to reduce their budget by that amount would be really irresponsible and negligent on our part,” he said. “If we want to get there in two or three years, maybe that would be a better way, but wiping it out without knowing where we’ll end up is not the way to go.”

Chief Carter agreed with Buccina, saying a reduction to $625,274 would require two more layoffs, leaving one officer on duty per shift.

“That’s not safe for my officers or the community,” Carter said. “It’s not a reasonable number. It’s easy for people who sleep nice and snug at home while my men are fighting for their lives to throw out an arbitrary number.”

Resident Kevin Saisi said he disagreed with the reduction of economic development in the General Government budget recommendation from $32,000 to $30,000.

“I think that when you have a shrinking tax base, it’s important to sustain your economic development efforts, so you can work to build or at least maintain your tax base,” Saisi said. “It’s a little hard to do that on nickels and dimes. It’s like going to a car lot and saying, ‘Well, we don’t need the salesmen anymore.’”

Voters originally turned down all 12 money articles on June 11, which totaled $7.5 million. Selectmen cut $1 million from the next budget, which was presented July 23. The Finance Committee reduced the proposed budget to $7.2 million.

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At that referendum, eight of the 12 budget articles were rejected. Passed were funds for health and sanitation, the Rumford Public Library, public service and debt service.

On Aug. 27, voters again turned down the same eight municipal budget articles.

The Finance Committee will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 10, to approve its new recommendations.

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