RUMFORD — It took two votes Tuesday night for the Charter Commission to decide how budget items will be displayed on the town meeting ballot.

However, Commission Chairman Kevin Saisi said after the meeting that changes will not be in effect for this budget season, and likely won’t be considered until June 2015.

If approved by secret ballot on Election Day 2015, they would be in effect for the 2016 budget season, he said.

“I am pleased that we have come through one of the most difficult decisions without any major contention,” Saisi said. “I know that not everybody is satisfied, but in government it is impossible to keep everyone happy. Our job as commission members is to evaluate all options and select what we feel is best for the town.”

Last week’s commission meeting focused on what was referred to as the “if yes” option, which would have handled budget items with the same method used for initiated articles. Voters would be asked if they approved money for the budget, and if they voted affirmatively, they would be asked to choose between the selectmen’s and Finance Committee’s recommendations.

If the item were to be voted down, it would return for review and another recommendation and vote. However, Saisi said that an analysis of potential outcomes made it clear that a minority of voters could still override the will of the majority.

On Tuesday night, commission members examined the single-number option. Its goal would be to arrive at a single recommendation to present to voters.

However, he said concerns over disenfranchising either selectmen or the Finance Committee caused some members to state their reluctance to pick this option. Additionally, it was said that providing a single number would limit the options of voters.

After much discussion, a motion was made and seconded to choose the “if yes” option. The vote was split 4-4, with Saisi abstaining. He said he believed that the commission hadn’t thoroughly discussed the options.

Following more discussion, including consideration of how to achieve a single number, a motion was made and seconded to use a single number. It would be achieved through a joint meeting between selectmen and the Finance Committee. That passed 5-4 with Saisi voting in favor.

Afterward, the commission addressed how the two boards would interact, he said. The discussion led to a proposal that the Finance Committee would be composed of the five selectmen and, perhaps, five Rumford residents who could be either elected or appointed.

Saisi said that option had yet to be resolved with a vote, but had given members something to think about until their next meeting.

Discussion also included a suggestion that the budget revert to the current year’s budget if it fails twice in the polls. He said this option would help avoid the numerous votes that happened this past year. That proposal wasn’t yet been voted on either.

These changes will require other modifications in the charter, and may take time to pull together, Saisi said.

“Tonight’s meeting went very well, and despite differing opinions, the commission members maintained decorum and followed meeting procedure,” Saisi said.

He attributed the protocol to having a more specific agenda, which helped members understand that all viewpoints would be heard.

[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.