Time was when Rumford didn’t need economic development, since the local paper mill paid most of the taxes and offered jobs and opportunities.

No more.

The once proud town of Rumford is, at this point, only a shell of its former self. Most, but not all of this, is due to events at the local paper manufacturing facility that have resulted in lower employment there and a general devaluation of the facility.

Much has been done during the past year in an effort to lower local tax bills without much effect. The true route to lower taxes is to have people and businesses paying for municipal services.

Rumford has needed a strong economic development program for the past 30 years, which is when the paper mill decline began. The comprehensive plan adopted by Rumford voters in November of 1998 tasks the selectmen with hiring professional economic development staff. That plan was approved by a 2-to-1 majority, so it is probably safe to say that voters wanted implementation.

The current and previous boards of selectmen have simply sat on their collective rear ends and watched the town decline while waiting for new development to happen. It hasn’t and won’t.

Well-intended amateur efforts have been largely ineffective. It’s long past time for Rumford selectmen to hire and support a professional community/economic development effort. The effort will have to be led by a professional with many years of successful experience.

Rumford citizens need to inform selectmen that they expect this to be done, now.

Dennis Breton, Rumford

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