RUMFORD — Members of the Charter Commission decided Tuesday night they need to meet with new Town Manager John Madigan before diving into their task to fix charter issues.

The meeting is set for 6 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 21, in the Municipal Building conference room.

Members didn’t specify a topic to discuss with Madigan, who is being shared by Mexico and Rumford until the June town meeting. However, there was considerable discussion on regionalizing Rumford with Mexico and how not to hamper that with charter changes.

Some members said they would have liked it if more department heads came to the commission’s public hearing Dec. 17 and discussed their issues with the charter.

Member Chris Brennick recommended that they first decide whether to keep the annual business meeting as a referendum at the polls or revert back to an open meeting.

“Which way are we going to go with that?” he asked.

“I think if you got rid of secret ballot there would be a revolt,” member Jim Windover said.

“I agree,” member Richard Greene said.

Brennick said once the commission resolves that issue, then it should get into other issues with the budget process.

Member Michael Peter Chase said he would like input from department heads before starting discussion on budget process changes.

The commission reviewed two documents from former Town Manager Len Greaney and Selectman Frank DiConzo to better understand what they advocate for the charter. Chairman Kevin Saisi said he would seek clarifications from Greaney. Members liked DiConzo’s explanation of suggested changes.

Brennick said the commission should be responsive to the will of Rumford’s legislative body or voters.

When discussion veered off topic, Saisi said the commission is not tasked with changing ordinances.

“Our function is to make revisions to the charter or create a new charter,” he said. “The charter supersedes ordinances anyway.”

Saisi said he spoke with Madigan about collaborating with other towns and said the commission may want to insert language into the charter about interlocal agreements.

One of DiConzo’s changes would remove the power from the Finance Committee to make a budget recommendation. Instead, it would only be able to act as an advisory board to selectmen.

When asked by Chase how that would make Finance Committee members feel, Greene, who is on the committee, declined to speak for anyone but himself.

He suggested the commission invite committee members to speak on the matter at a future meeting. He said he views the committee as another set of eyes examining budgets. To reduce the committee to an advisory group without any power would negate the need to even have a Finance Committee, Greene said.

The commission next reviewed comments from the public hearing before Saisi asked what members considered the biggest topics to tackle first.

“We need to make sure where we’re going before we start running down the trail,” Saisi said.

He said the budget process should be first since it’s the most prominent issue.

Greene suggested regionalization and ensuring that the charter “empowers the residents of our community to have the final say on our spending.”

Member Roger Viger Jr. said he envisions many clarifications to make the charter more understandable.

Chase suggested adding a statement that removes the charter as a possible impediment to regionalization.

Brennick suggested making ordinances concur with the charter, including resolving the multi-year grant issue that prevents one municipal board from tying up future boards for years.

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