RUMFORD — Town Manager Carlo Puiia, who resigned from his position Thursday night following an executive session, was described as “an honorable man” and “respectful” by his co-workers Monday.

Executive Secretary Terri Palmer, who has seen several town managers come and go while she has held the position, said that she was “definitely saddened to hear that he had resigned” and that he was “a very good person to work with.”

“He was fair-minded and always tried to help members of the community whenever they came to him with something,” Palmer continued. “He cared about his town. I know that he grew up here and knew a lot of people, and a lot of people here knew him and respected him.”

Though Palmer did not wish to speak about Puiia’s reasons for leaving his position, she did say that “she thought a lot of the work he did for the town and proved how much he cared for his community.”

Ted Hotham, the vice chairman of the Budget Committee, described Puiia as an “honorable man,” adding that he was “sad that he’s resigning from his post as town manager.”

“I have a lot of respect for Carlo and what he’s done for this town,” Hotham said Monday morning. “I have to believe that the pressures of the budget are getting to Carlo. For this to be happening now, right in the middle of forming the budget, is a tough thing. We’re going to miss him.”

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Hotham also said that he didn’t think that Puiia’s resignation would affect the way the Finance Committee conducts their business.

“From my perspective, I don’t see his resignation affecting us too much,” Hotham said. “We don’t operate that closely with the board, contrary to what some people in town have been saying.”

While Puiia’s resignation will leave the Board of Selectmen busy searching for a replacement, Hotham said that he doesn’t think the resignation will get in the way of town business.

“I don’t see the hiring of a new town manager as a hindrance whatsoever,” Hotham said. “I’m not trying to say that Carlo did a bad job or anything. I agree that a fresh set of eyes or a new perspective could make a difference in the budget process. Maybe they’ll see something that Carlo or the previous town managers didn’t see before. It could definitely be a help.”

Selectman Jeff Sterling said that he “had a great time working with Carlo” and found him to be “one of the best leaders I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”

“I’ve worked with different superintendents and directors, and Carlo is right up there,” Sterling added.

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As the board begins looking for a new town manager, Sterling said it will be important for him to find somebody who “can restore a little bit of pride.”

“That’s not to say that Carlo didn’t bring pride to the town or anything,” Sterling clarified. “Carlo is a child of Rumford, and there’s nobody I can imagine who is prouder than him of his community. I just feel like everybody, not just the board and the new town manager, but everybody needs to find some common good to work towards so we can start moving forward.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina said that the path to hiring a new town manager is “quite the process” and that he is “evaluating several different options that the town could take.”

“After I’m done going through and figuring things out, I’ll convey to the board those options, and we’ll come up with some other ones, and together, we’ll figure out how to go forward,” Buccina said.

Buccina said that he’d “rather not say publicly” what some of these options are until he talks to the Board of Selectmen, though he pointed out that the Maine Municipal Association was one option the town could take in their search.

In an interview with the Sun Journal on Friday, Selectman Jolene Lovejoy said that the board was looking into how much it would cost to contract with the Maine Municipal Association.

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Puiia was unavailible for comment Monday.

Puiia was named to the position in 2009 after serving as the town’s tax collector. His resignation is effective upon the appointment of a new town manager.

Nearly a month ago, the Board of Selectmen approved a three-year contract for Puiia. It said he would take a salary cut of $1,300 the first year, making his pay $67,600. His pay would be $70,200 for 2014-15 and $72,800 for 2015-16.

It’s the second resignation this year for the town. Selectman Jeremy Volkernick resigned in April after growing frustrated when the town wouldn’t reduce the budget.

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