RUMFORD — The Board of Selectmen voted 4-1 Thursday to switch employee payroll to biweekly and direct deposit, starting Feb. 1.

At the Nov. 5 meeting, Selectman Frank DiConzo said he believed biweekly payroll and direct deposit would be more efficient and save money. At that meeting, Selectman Mark Belanger asked Town Manager John Madigan if there was any language prohibiting the switch in the union contracts. Madigan said there was nothing in the contracts either for or against it.

The selectmen tasked Town Clerk/Treasurer Beth Bellegarde this month with drafting a plan, but Madigan said Thursday night she did not have anything ready to present because she didn’t have a chance to look through all of the union contracts.

Since the board’s Nov. 5 meeting, DiConzo said he had a conversation with Oxford County Administrator Scott Cole and was told the county converted to a biweekly payroll and direct deposit last January. They have between 72 and 76 employees.

“They’ve been doing it for 11 months and have had no problems,” DiConzo said. “He said once they got used to biweekly, there were no problems, no quarrels, no arguments. I’m going to quote him: ‘Time is money.’ Time is a valuable commodity for getting things done. It gives you time to work on other things.”

Board of Selectmen Chairman Brad Adley said he also talked to Cole about this.

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“You won’t save on the balance sheet, but it will save a lot of time,” he said. “It sounds like it could be a success.”

Selectman Mark Belanger said Bellegarde had indicated that it could save about five hours a week.

“It could be more,” he said. “So that would be five hours every other week. My question is, aren’t we the ones running the town? Because what happens is that a lot of people don’t want to change, so they come back with information to us that behooves them because they don’t want to change. So if we think it’s common sense to do this, we should do it.”

Selectman Peter Chase said he spoke to Oxford County Sheriff Wayne Gallant and was told that switching to biweekly payroll has worked out fine. Chase said the sheriff told him they gave substantial notice to employees to prepare for the change.

DiConzo made a motion to implement the change the first of the year and it was seconded by Belanger.

More discussion followed.

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Chase questioned if six weeks was enough time.

Selectman Jeff Sterling said that while he was in favor of the switch, he would vote against it because they had not discussed this first with employees. He said he was also disappointed that Bellegarde was not able to make a presentation at Thursday’s meeting.

Adley said he would support the motion if the start date was moved ahead.

DiConzo and Belanger agreed to change the motion to implement the switch on Feb. 1. The board voted, with Sterling dissenting.

In other business, selectmen voted 5-0 to spend $12,000 for continued funding to Jim Rinaldo for the position of economic development coordinator.

Madigan said that last year, Rumford paid $8,000 to the River Valley Growth Council for Rinaldo’s services and Mexico paid $4,000. This year, however, Mexico selectmen voted not to fund the position.

Council member Dick Lovejoy said other towns also chipped in, including $1,000 from Dixfield, and amounts from $250 to $500 from smaller towns in the River Valley.

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