RUMFORD — Following a long debate on a petition to amend the town charter, the Board of Selectmen voted 3-2 Thursday night to seek the opinion of the town attorney before proceeding.

The motion from Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina was to send the petition regarding a municipal spending cap to town attorney Jennifer Kreckel for her review and written opinion that the amendment that was created does not contain any provision prohibited by the U.S. Constitution or the Maine Constitution.

“That’s what she’s going to be deciding. Nothing else. And I would like to have this on the agenda and have her here to discuss it,” he said.

The petition, which carried 575 signatures, comes from a committee of Rumford voters coordinated by Phil Blampied of High Street.

Blampied asked the town to schedule an election under a section of state law which allows citizens to petition for changes in a local charter. He said the voters would be asked whether to add a section to the charter to put a $6 million cap on town spending. The cap would not affect the school budget, nor would it limit initiated articles or the overlay, an amount the town puts aside each year to cover tax abatements. It could increase if the total tax base increased, but would decrease if the tax base decreased.

On Tuesday, Charter Commission members voted to indefinitely table discussion of a municipal spending cap, because it previously decided not to include it in the charter.

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At a public hearing held before the meeting, Carlo Puiia, speaking as a citizen, asked, “What is wrong with the democratic process that we have? As a citizen, why do they want to take that right away from me?”

Buccina indicated that if the petition is found to be legal, they would probably have two informational meetings before there would be a vote.

In other business, resident Dick Lovejoy suggested that the town get rid of the charter altogether.

“I was on the Charter Commission and spent a lot of time on it, and I think that maybe it’s time to consider that we don’t have a charter. Many towns in the state don’t have charters. Mexico doesn’t have a charter. The state regulations and rules are a lot different now than when the charters were put into effect. Most of (the charters) are kind of obsolete.

“I think the citizens should vote on it sometime. It’s something to consider. I think one of my real reasons for doing this is that I think it’s really going to get in the way of regionalization. One of the most important things we should be looking at is how to do things together with Mexico and, hopefully, Dixfield. The charter is going to get in the way of that. Maybe now is the time to do it,” he said.

Buccina responded, “We’ll keep that in mind. It may be something we put alongside any charter changes on the ballot, if and when the Charter Commission comes to us with a proposal, one of the options to go on the ballot, if we deem relevant, is the option be not to have the charter.”

bfarrin@sunmediagroup.net


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