RUMFORD — Acting on the town attorney’s advice, the Board of Selectmen voted Monday evening to have the issue of police coverage decided at the annual town meeting June 1, not at the polls June 9.

“We figured out, after looking at every option, that the best option would be through secret ballot and absentee ballot,” Board of Selectmen Chairman Buccina said. “However, our town attorney’s interpretation of the charter says that we cannot hold a secret ballot on this particular issue, since it’s not directly related to the budget.”

The decision is whether to have the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office or the local Police Department provide coverage.

Buccina said the board tried to find a way to word the article that would put it “in budgetary form,” but were unable to figure out a way to make it work.

“If we were to make it a secret ballot vote, it would be going against our town attorney’s recommendation and could open us up to potential lawsuits,” he said.

The board is “encouraging everyone to get out there on June 1,” he said.

Since September 2013, Rumford and Mexico 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.

In November 2014, Sheriff Wayne Gallant presented a two-year contract proposal to serve both towns. He said it would cost the towns $1.32 million the first year and $1.18 million the second year. The proposal would provide 12 deputies to cover both towns.

On April 6, selectmen from both towns voted 6-3 to place the question of coverage on the ballot.

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