RUMFORD — The Rumford and Mexico Boards of Selectmen voted 6-3 at Monday evening’s joint meeting to approve an article for the upcoming June referendum that would ask residents from both towns if they wish to approve a proposal by the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office to provide police coverage for both towns or keep their police departments the way they are.

Rumford Selectmen Jeff Sterling and Brad Adley, and Mexico Selectman Reggie Arsenault voted against the motion.

Since September 2013, the towns’ officials have been looking at ways to consolidate services and save money. They hired Municipal Resources, a consulting company from New Hampshire, which said both towns could save money by merging.

During a Nov. 24, 2014, meeting in Mexico, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant presented a two-year contract proposal to serve both towns.

Gallant said it would cost the towns more than $1.3 million for the first year and $1.18 million the second year. The proposal would provide 12 deputies to cover both towns.

Following Gallant’s presentation, Rumford police Chief Stacy Carter and Mexico police Chief Roy Hodsdon presented a proposal to combine departments and work out of the Mexico police station, which is more spacious than Rumford’s station.

Carter and Hodsdon said merging departments would cost $1.38 million and provide 15 officers. Rumford has 12 and Mexico has five.

At the beginning of the meeting, DiConzo said that he found it “very disheartening” to read “some Mexico board members putting down this board, this Police Department and the town of Rumford.”

“We’re not going to get anywhere if this crap continues,” DiConzo said. “We’re on board for something. We’re ready to make a decision, but then we see that Mexico decided to talk to Dixfield about sharing a police chief. When we started talking about consolidation, Dixfield didn’t want any damn part of it. We paid to have Municipal Resources do a study, and Dixfield didn’t pay for crap. I’m done with desiring Dixfield to be involved.”

Sterling said that he has been a proponent of the police chief’s proposal since “day one,” and that he wanted to see the proposal placed before the residents at their June ballot.

“I think that it’s the best option for our town, and we both see a better savings from their proposal than if we decided to keep our departments the same,” Sterling said.

Earlier in the meeting, Sterling told the Mexico selectmen that the Rumford board had agreed on a police budget that was $566 less than the previous year.

Town Manager John Madigan told Sterling that the Mexico selectmen had approved a police budget that was “pretty much the same as last year,” except for an increase in workman’s compensation.

Sterling replied, “To me, it makes the most sense to go with the police chiefs’ proposal, where we save money, rather than stay the same, where we barely save anything or even save nothing at all.”

Mexico Selectman Albert Aniel said that he was not in favor of the police chiefs’ proposal, and that he wanted to see an article placed before residents of both towns that offered them a choice between either the sheriff’s proposal or keeping their departments the same.

“To me, the real savings with the Sheriff’s proposal,” Aniel said.

Rumford Selectman Mark Belanger agreed, adding that there were “too many unknowns” with the police chiefs’ proposal.

“This doesn’t mean that I’m completely giving up on the proposal to consolidate our police departments,” Aniel said. “If the people decide to shoot down the sheriff’s proposal, maybe we can come back to the police chiefs’ proposal next year and re-negotiate.”

Rumford Board of Selectmen Chairman Greg Buccina said that two public hearings would be held leading up to the June referendum: one in Rumford and one in Mexico.

Mexico Selectman Reggie Arsenault suggested that both towns hold their public hearings at Mountain Valley High School.

[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.