MEXICO — Following a nearly 60-minute executive session Thursday night during a special selectmen’s meeting in the Mexico Town Office, the Rumford and Mexico boards agreed to share John Madigan as town manager.

Madigan, a former Rumford town manager, has served as Mexico’s town manager for the past nine years as of this month.

Both towns have been working toward regionalization for years and both boards had trouble passing municipal budgets this year.

“I think it’s a good direction that we’re both working as a team to work together to start regionalization, finally, and I think it’s great,” Mexico Board of Selectmen Chairman Richie Philbrick said afterward. “And I think we incorporated real well working together.”

“Finally,” Mexico Selectman Byron Ouellette said about regionalization.

“At some point in time, you get there,” Rumford attorney Jennifer Kreckel said. “One step at a time.”

Both boards opened the 6:15 p.m. meeting by each motioning to enter executive session to discuss a personnel matter. At 7:10 p.m., both exited the session. Then, Mexico Selectman George Byam read a handwritten statement by Kreckel while Madigan and outgoing Rumford Town Manager Carlo Puiia watched.

“I move that we agree to mutually hire John Madigan as a shared town manager for the towns of Rumford and Mexico, starting on Dec. 23, 2013, and ending on June 10, 2014, with a written agreement to be signed at a joint meeting of the select boards of the towns of Rumford and Mexico on Dec. 19, 2013, in the town of Rumford,” Byam said.

It was seconded, and then approved unanimously by Mexico Selectmen Byam, Reggie Arsenault and Chairman Richie Philbrick. Selectman Peter Merrill was absent.

Then Rumford Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina and Selectmen Jeff Sterling, Brad Adley, Jolene Lovejoy and Frank DiConzo did the same thing, also approving it unanimously.

The meeting was then adjourned.

Afterward, Sterling said Rumford went through a process to hire a town manager after Puiia resigned on Sept. 19, citing personal reasons. He agreed to stay on until selectmen hired a new town manager or until the end of the business day on Friday, Dec. 20, whichever came first.

Sterling described the Rumford board’s search for a town manager as “a little convoluted at times, and this is where we ended up.”

“Congratulations,” Kreckel told Sterling.

“You, too. Thank you,” he said.

“I think this is a very good step,” Kreckel said.

“It is a very good step,” Sterling said.

Philbrick and Ouellette said Madigan’s contract with Rumford would be drawn up by Kreckel and signed at the Dec. 19 joint meeting of Rumford and Mexico boards in Rumford.

Madigan, who currently works a five-day week for Mexico, will work in Rumford as town manager for 2.5 days and do the same in Mexico. But if there’s a holiday in the work week, he would work two days for Rumford and two for Mexico, Kreckel said.

“I think if we can share services, that’s all we need,” Philbrick said of regionalization. “A lot of towns are doing that. Auburn and Lewiston are doing it. They’re not merging their towns, but just their services.”

“You have to now,” Ouellette said.

“Right now, we’ve got to start somewhere, and this is what we’re doing,” Philbrick said.

“It’s going to work out really good,” Ouellette said of shared services. “We can do it if we want to. It’s been a long time in coming.”

Kreckel agreed.

“I think it’s great news for the area,” she said. “We’re taking steps to reduce both sides of the fence’s budgets, because we need to start cooperating and cutting our costs. Life is changing for all of us.

“This is the first step in the interlocal sharing of services,” Kreckel said.

Madigan took the new job in stride. After all, he served from 1985 to 1992 as Rumford’s town manger, so he knows how both town governments work.

“Given the way each town voted this budget process, the townspeople are sending a message that we have to do something different,” he said.

It took five tries in five months for Rumford selectmen to get a municipal budget approved for 2013-14. It took two tries in Mexico because they have an ordinance that limits voters to two tries on articles that comprise the municipal budget.

“I think that wherever we can consolidate services and still provide an appropriate level of service that the communities need, we’re going to be looking at that over the next several months,” Madigan said.

“And, you know, because I’ve done Rumford before and I’ve done Mexico for so long, I’m probably the one that can try to help put it together.”

He said he thinks that both boards and the people of both towns have seen him be a town manager for both towns.

“If we can consolidate anything, that’s what we’re going to try to do,” Madigan said.

“And I think that the thing we have to our advantage right now is that everything we’ve done together we’ve done very well. So that’s in our favor.

“We just have to try to find a better way to provide the services that we need to provide,” he said. “We can’t just not plow the roads, but we’ve got to find the most efficient way to do it.”

During a joint meeting on Sept. 4, selectmen of both towns hired a New Hampshire firm to assemble a comprehensive study of Rumford and Mexico to determine areas where services could be consolidated. The first phase is anticipated to be completed in January.

“Hopefully, in the next six months, we’ll be putting together a plan in conjunction with our consultant, and when we have a plan, then we’ll present something to the voters of both towns to see if they want to pursue it,” Madigan said. “That’s the best we can do at this time, to see where it goes from here.”

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