MEXICO — The Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Tuesday to create a committee to draft a recall ordinance.

Chairman Richie Philbrick and George Byam and Byron Ouellette voted in favor, while Reggie Arsenault and Peter Merrill opposed the motion.

During an Aug. 29 Planning Board meeting, resident Albert Aniel attempted to submit a recall ordinance, saying the town “needed an ordinance to be able to remove selectmen if they were not acting in the best interest of the voters, abusing their position, acted inappropriately or were convicted of a crime.”

The recall ordinance was rejected in a 4-3 vote at that meeting.

Since then, a petition containing nearly 150 signatures of residents was submitted to the Board of Selectmen earlier in the week, asking them to create a recall ordinance.

During the Sept. 24 selectmen meeting, the board voted to have the Planning Board draft a recall ordinance.

However, Town Manager John Madigan said Tuesday evening that the Planning Board had decided not to draft an ordinance and voted to “throw it back to the selectmen.”

“Basically, the only rule that the Planning Board has is land-use ordinances,” Madigan told the board. “There’s nothing that says they have to do other ordinances. Traditionally, they have reviewed any ordinances that have been put before them, but they apparently voted not to draft one because they already voted to not do one. They’re putting the ball back in your court.”

Arsenault, who is also a member of the Planning Board, said, “We already voted it down the first time. We feel the ordinance is not needed. The board felt that there was no legal reason for a recall ordinance, other than it being a vindictive action by a couple of people. They said they felt the selectmen get along fine and they do what they can to keep the town running, and they made a motion to not draft a recall ordinance.

“We looked over the rules and regulations, and there’s nothing that says that the Planning Board has to write up that type of ordinance,” Arsenault said.

Ouellette asked Madigan what the Planning Board’s motion meant for the Board of Selectmen.

“Well, a committee would have to be created,” Madigan said, “and they would draft up the ordinance and put it before the Planning Board to make sure it’s legal. If it is, then it would go before the people for a vote.”

Arsenault later said the Maine Municipal Association released a letter at a recent convention in regards to recall ordinances.

“MMA said that there’s no reason for municipal ordinances to be put into a town unless the town pushes it through or there’s a charter revision,” Arsenault said. “It’s state law that if a town doesn’t have a recall ordinance, the only way a selectman can be recalled is if he committed a crime while in office.”

“So that means if we don’t pass a recall ordinance, we have to go by state statutes,” Ouellette asked.

“Yes,” Madigan replied.

“I really believe the intentions of the petitioners is there,” Ouellette told the board, “and I think we need to follow through with this and let the people vote whether they want a recall ordinance or not. If they don’t want one, they’ll vote no. We’re just assuming that this is being pushed through because of a couple of people.”

Ouellette turned to Arsenault and said, “Reggie is really resisting this because he feels this is a vindictive act toward him.”

“It is,” Arsenault replied. “The person that started this stood up at a selectmen’s meeting and pointed that out exactly.”

“Wait a minute,” Philbrick said. “If you’re operating your town, and you’re doing it to the best of your ability, and working as a team, I don’t see how you could remove someone. I can see if Reggie was going out and doing stuff on his own and going against the board, then I could say, ‘Wait, he’s not doing his job.’ But just because he did some things that other people didn’t like doesn’t mean we can take somebody out of office.”

Ouellette said he believes the “big reason” that people are pushing for a recall ordinance is that “they don’t feel represented.

“Back in June, when we were deciding whether to cut the budget or go back to the previous year’s budget, one selectman made a motion, and another seconded, for us to go back to the previous year’s budget,” Ouellette said. “That’s not what the people wanted.”

Philbrick asked Merrill what his opinion was on the recall ordinance.

“I think we have a really nice recall ordinance, and it’s called public voting,” Merrill said. “We do it once every three years. When somebody runs for office, people vote if they want them in. If they don’t like the job they’re doing, they vote them out.”

The board subsequently voted to create a committee of eight to 10 people who would look at what type of recall ordinance the town should adopt, and work on drafting one of their own.

In other business, the board unanimously voted to allow Madigan to sign an agreement with Municipal Resources Inc., a New Hampshire consulting firm, that would allow them to begin work on finding areas where Mexico and the town of Rumford could share services.

During a joint meeting on Sept. 4, selectmen from both towns approved a proposal from the company to put together a comprehensive study of Rumford and Mexico to see if they could find areas they could consolidate services.

The board also voted to schedule a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 22, for a proposed mobile home park and mobile home ordinance.

The ordinance was created after the Planning Board decided to update the current document.

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