RUMFORD — Charter Commission members elected two of three officers Tuesday night, ironed out procedural matters and began reviewing charter articles for possible change.

Kevin Saisi was elected chairman and Chris Brennick, vice chairman. Choosing a secretary was tabled to the board’s next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17.

At the board’s first meeting last month, the commission inadvertently elected unsworn members to leadership positions and had to remedy that Tuesday night. They also needed to ratify decisions made at the last meeting.

Seven of the nine members were present. Eric Davis and Richard Greene were absent.

The commission unanimously decided to loosely follow Robert’s Rules of Order as a framework for conducting meetings.

They also voted 7-0 to hold meetings from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first and third Tuesdays, with time extensions determined by majority vote. Additionally, they voted to allow up to 20 minutes of public input at the beginning of a meeting, allotting three minutes per person.

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The commission decided to seek input from the public, town departments, administration, committees, boards and commissions in a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 17, in Rumford Falls Auditorium.

They reviewed the charter section by section until adjournment. It became apparent early on that the commission will need to consult with the town attorney on several matters for clarification, and it will likely have to hold additional meetings.

Saisi read aloud sections of articles that the commission thought needed some change. From Article III, Section 2 — Basic Articles for Referenda, he read, “The board shall prepare and insert in the annual warrant for the referendum or Town Meeting such articles as appear essential and expedient for the conduct of the town affairs for the ensuing year, but shall not burden such warrants with trivial matters of no general interest and which should be handled by administrative procedure.”

Amy Bernard commented that the commission needs to add a glossary to the charter to define such terms as what constitutes “trivial matters” and who determines “general interest.”

Saisi said the commission should leave the charter as streamlined and aligned as possible.

After reviewing Section 3 — Budget and Ordinance Referenda, the commission decided not to use certain months and days to determine when selectmen and Finance Committee hearings on budgets should be held, and when absentee ballots need to be made available.

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Several issues were raised with the Initiated Article process in Section 5. Brennick wanted to allow selectmen to chisel down requested amounts from organizations seeking donations.

Jim Windover said that last year, one organization came up with three different monetary amounts.

“I think whatever the dollar amount is being asked, it needs to be justified,” Bernard said. “I think we’re just opening ourselves up to favoritism if it isn’t.”

Saisi said that already happens, with organizations asking for a specific “chunk of change” and getting it, year after year, without justifying it.

Michael Peter Chase said the organizations currently only justify it to selectmen. 

“I think it’s the jobs of the selectmen and Finance Committee to keep a leash on spending requests,” Chase said. “We need to allow selectmen the opportunity to do that.”

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Brennick said he thinks the Initiated Articles process is broken.

The commission also delved into ballot issues, such as when the No vote trumps the Yes vote, which is split between different amounts recommended by selectmen and the Finance Committee.

“This has been one of the worst problems,” Brennick said.

“If voters have three choices and the majority vote is for funding, then you go for the lower of the amounts,” Chase said.

“We need to have a framework to work in, but we need to be a democracy,” Brennick said.

“This is going to be one of our toughest decisions,” Chase said.

“The quickest way to get out of this is to go back to open town meetings,” Bernard said.

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