MEXICO — The Mexico and Rumford boards of selectmen met with Municipal Resources Inc. on Tuesday evening at the Town Office to discuss ways the towns can share certain municipal services.

Mexico and Rumford have been meeting since June about the idea.

In September, Municipal Resources provided both towns with a proposal to put together a comprehensive study on the subject. The boards approved the proposal.

Municipal Resources visited Mexico and Rumford on Tuesday to meet with members of each department, along with employees of each town. After that, they met with selectmen to discuss their findings and the next steps in the process.

Donald R. Jutton, president of Municipal Resources, told selectmen that while completely merging both towns would be “extremely difficult to do,” the idea of “consolidating services and eliminating redundancy is absolutely doable.

“What you’re going to need for this to push through is a lot of political wit and community acceptance,” Jutton said. “There’s a saying that’s been thrown around that goes, ‘Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.’ People may want the towns to consolidate services, but they have to be willing to be patient and show some drive.”

At the start of the meeting, Jutton provided the selectmen with an example of an interlocal agreement that Municipal Resources drafted for the towns of Mapleton, Castle Hill and Chapman in Aroostook County.

“Unfortunately, you guys are in a town that has a decreasing population, an older population and live in a state whose median income is lower than other New England states,” Jutton said. “I’m not saying that this whole process won’t be challenging. In four to six weeks, after the ice thaws out a bit, we’ll return to you with some different alternatives that you guys can choose. We don’t want to sugarcoat it, nor do we wish to create a sense of crisis. We’ll just give you options that you can choose from.”

When some residents brought up the idea of eventually merging the two towns into one, Jutton reiterated that it would be a “lengthy and difficult” process.

“I’ve been unable to find an example of two mature communities coming together into one,” he said. “There would be a lot of complexities involved, and if we were all born today, I don’t think we probably would see it happen here. From my perspective, the cost of trying to combine your two towns in one would far exceed any benefits you would get over the long term, and based on what we’ve seen in the past, it’s a huge mountain to climb.”

Mexico resident Albert Aniel agreed, saying that while he’d like to see the two towns merge in the future, “the chasm is too great to consider it right now.

“I’m hoping that these meetings will be the catalyst for an eventual merger, whether it’s 10 or 20 years in the future,” Aniel added.

Rumford board Chairman Greg Buccina said he liked the idea of inter-municipal agreements, since it left open the opportunity for other communities to join in.

Buccina said it might be advantageous for Rumford to wait on revising its charter until Municipal Resources finishes its work.

Rumford fire Chief Robert Chase reminded selectmen and residents that they should “keep their expectations in check” heading into the process.

“We should get rid of any preconceived notions of what savings we might get,” Chase said. “If we can start merging certain departments and eliminating waste, we should be able to call that a success, even if we don’t see savings right off the bat. I’m just saying, we should look at this realistically.”

Jutton told selectmen that Municipal Resources would begin work on the first draft of a plan, which should be ready to review within four to six weeks.

[email protected]

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: