RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen on Monday evening held the first of two public hearings and votes on budget amounts for the June ballot.

“We’re not deciding anything tonight, or moving money around in our budget to cover these costs,” Chairman Greg Buccina said. “Right now, we’re just voting on what amount of money to place on the ballot.”

Western Maine Veterans requested $175. Joseph Cooney, who served as chairman of the Western Maine Veteran Advisory Committee for 20 years, said he was “not looking to build an empire.”

“I’m just looking for enough money to get us through next year,” Cooney said.

Cooney said the organization “tries to provide activities for people that no other organization provides.”

“We don’t want the people visiting our home sitting around in their rooms and watching television all day,” Cooney said. “We try to find ways to take them out to different places.”

After Cooney’s presentation, Selectman Brad Adley asked, “I know we ask this every year, but is $175 enough money?”

Selectman Jeff Sterling said that a few years ago, he and the selectmen at the time had looked into what other towns that had a similar population were putting on the ballot and found that a couple of towns had approved $400.

“I would be more than willing to approve $400 this year,” Sterling said. He made a motion to increase the request to $400 and the board unanimously approved.

Selectmen also unanimously voted to approve a $5,000 request from SeniorsPlus.

Connie Jones, director of community services for SeniorsPlus, said they served 310 Rumford residents last year, and 31 residents had received food from the Meals on Wheels program.

“We had 40 residents receive one-on-one Medicare counseling, and two residents received 129 hours of respite service,” Jones said.

She added that the Meals on Wheels currently had a wait list of “about 87 people.”

Buccina asked how many people from the Rumford area were on the list.

While Jones said that she could not provide an exact number, she estimated that “anywhere between five and 10 people from Rumford” were likely on the list.

“That’s too many,” Buccina said. “How long is the wait list right now?”

“It could be somewhere between six and eight months before they get to everyone,” Jones said.

“That’s ridiculous,” Buccina said. “I don’t know if it’s possible to find out how many people from the area are on the wait list, and what the cost might be to provide a meal to them. It disturbs me that we have elderly folks in our community that aren’t getting a solid meal a day. I’m sure we can wrangle the troops together, and find people in this community to step up.”

Jones asked who she should call if she finds out the information.

“You call me,” Buccina said.

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