RUMFORD — Town Manager John Madigan said Monday evening that he found a way to override a charter provision that required the town to vote on the issue of police coverage at the annual town meeting June 1, and not at the polls June 9.

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, Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant presented a two-year contract proposal to serve the towns of Rumford and Mexico. 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 a question on the town meeting warrant asking residents if they wished to have the Oxford County Sheriff’s Office or their local Police Departments provide coverage.

The Rumford Board of Selectmen voted April 27 to have the issue decided at the annual town meeting June 1, not at the polls June 9.

Madigan said the town charter stated that the issues that could be decided at a secret ballot were limited to “election of officers, ordinance amendments or the annual budget appropriation.”


However, Madigan said the town’s goal has always been to “get as many people as possible to vote on police coverage,” adding that he found a way to override the provision after sifting through the charter.

“I found a section of the charter that says someone at the annual town business meeting can make a motion to refer a question to the secret ballot,” Madigan said. “If it’s approved, it would be up to the town clerk to make a paper ballot that would be presented at the polls.”

Selectman Frank DiConzo said it’s “unfortunate” that the town’s charter is set up that way, and said he feels “the charter is holding us back.”

“If someone makes a motion to put the question on the ballot, I’d hope that people aren’t of the mind to not put the question before the people,” DiConzo said. “Please vote in favor of the motion, and let the issue be decided at the secret polls.”

Selectman Brad Adley said the town “may not like a lot of the charter, but it’s the rules that we have to play by right now.”

“It is what it is,” Adley said. “We were just doing our jobs when we voted to decide the issue at the business meeting.”

Comments are no longer available on this story