RUMFORD — Residents will vote June 12 on a 2018-19 budget that includes $95,000 for a full-time economic developer and $59,000 for a K-9 officer for the Police Department.

The Finance Committee on Monday approved a municipal budget of $8.83 million, an increase of 3.13 percent.

Briggs advocated for having a full-time economic development director and a part-time assistant finance director.

Part-time economic developer Jim Rinaldo is retiring in June, she said.

The full-time economic developer’s salary would be $65,020. Adding in benefits would bring the total package to $95,000, she said.

Briggs said voters put $50,000 each year into the economic development capital account, which has a balance of $198,055. She could use the fund balance to pay for the position for two years, but wants to use it for other economic development purposes, she said.

Briggs said the salary would be enough to attract someone with a degree, “but it is on the low end.” She said the department would pay for itself with grant and other financial opportunities.

Committee member and Selectman Mark Belanger opposed the position.

“What happens to this position three years down the road if nothing happens? he asked. “Once we get someone in, it’s hard to get rid of them. I’ve been on the board for awhile and I know how this works.”

“That’s not true,” Briggs said.

“It seems like we’re on the cusp of some significant businesses coming to town,” committee member Rick Greene said. “This is the time to do this.”

Committee member and Selectman Jim Windover said he would only vote in favor of placing the request on the warrant if it was a separate question.

The committee voted 2-7 not to make it a separate question on the ballot.

Regarding a request for an assistant finance director, Briggs said having a 20-hour per week person would allow time to train someone to take the full-time position when Finance Director Deb Laurinaitis retires.

The committee voted 7-2 to have the request for a K-9 officer as a separate question on the ballot. Belanger and Windover voted against it.

Belanger said if it passed, it would expand the level of service of the Police Department without first going through the Board of Selectmen, as required by the town charter.

Carter said his department wants to start a K-9 program because of the area’s drug and abuse problem.

“If we had a K-9 readily available to conduct searching, we would be able to seize more illegal drugs than we are currently seizing,” he said. “Along with the drugs, there are times when the sums of cash that the suspect is in possession of can also be seized as drug proceeds that are ultimately forfeited.”

He said if voters approve the request, he hopes the criminal forfeitures will pay for the program.

He said he’s talked with a business that’s considering sponsoring the program. There have also been some small donations made and Carter is preparing to apply for a grant. Any private funding obtained will be used to offset the public funding requested on the warrant.

Briggs announced that Mike Mills, who has been public works director and superintendent of the Parks Department, will soon just be public works director.

“I can move his full salary over in this fiscal year into highway and still not overdraw,” Briggs said.


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