The Rumford Information Center will not open this summer because volunteers are not comfortable working there during the COVID-19 pandemic, Town Manager Stacy Carter said. Bruce Farrin/Rumford Falls Times

RUMFORD — Representatives from the Rumford Public Library board of trustees and the Parks and Recreation Commission have asked selectmen why they weren’t told about ordinances changes that would make both groups advisers to the town manager.

“We’re still uncertain as to the rationale for changing something that has worked for 100 years,” library trustee Vice Chairman Jerrold Cohen told selectmen at their meeting Thursday.

He asked why trustees weren’t told about the change, which will be voted on at the polls July 14.

Chris Brennick, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said the purpose is to have a clear chain of command to the town manager.

Cohen said it already exists, the town manager hires and fires library employees and selectmen authorize capital purchases.

“There hasn’t been good communication for a long time,” Selectman Frank DiConzo said, citing that the town manager and selectmen were not invited to participate in interviewing the last director, who has since left.

Cohen said former interim Town Manager Scott Cole was invited to the interviewing process. Further, Cohen said he asked selectmen for comment after he announced the trustees presented their selection.

Selectmen have signed off on the amended ordinance, which reads: “The Board of Library Trustees shall be and is charged with being the advisory board to the town manager in regards to maintaining and operating the Rumford Public Library. All incidental income resulting from the operation of the library shall be paid in to the town treasurer monthly, and shall be allocated to the library budget in addition to the town appropriation, so that the funds may be drawn upon for public library expenses.”

As for the Parks and Recreation Commission, longtime member Dan Richard said told selectmen, “I don’t understand why something that’s worked well doesn’t now.”

“Our meetings are taped and turned into the town manager’s office,” he said. “I don’t keep him in the dark. If I have something I’m not sure of, I always go to the town manager.”

Richard acknowledged the town manager has the ultimate say in hiring and firing.

He asked DiConzo why he wasn’t given the courtesy of being told the board was considering the ordinance change.

“We would like to have you as advisers,” DiConzo said. “We’re not taking your powers away. (The ordinance) says you will communicate with the town manager. There are instances where you haven’t been.”

Selectman Peter Chase said, “I do not feel I have the qualifications, nor do I want to take over the day-to-day operations of the library … We have to let the departments run themselves. However, same with the parks department, I would like to be kept abreast occasionally as to what’s going on. I would like to see, on a quarterly or semiannual basis, you come to one of our meetings and say ‘This is where we’re at. This is what we’re doing.'”

He apologized for not realizing Cole had been invited to take part in the interviewing process for the last library director.

“All we need is a little communication,” Richard said.

The amended ordinance reads, in part, “The Parks and Recreation Commission shall be and is hereby charged with being advisers to the town manager in regards to developing, maintaining and operating all publicly owned cemeteries, and all public parks, athletic fields, recreational and playground areas and facilities … excepting playground areas under the control of the Regional School Unit …”

Also, the commission shall have the authority to permit the use of the athletic facilities under terms and conditions approved by the town manager; pay incidental income from operations to the town treasurer monthly for allocation to the commission; hold regular monthly meetings; and have the town manager or his or her designated representative act as executive agent of the commission and may attend commission meetings.

In other business, Town Manager Stacy Carter gave the following updates:

  • Paving Hall Hill Road will begin soon.
  • Public Works is finishing paving the South Rumford Road, three streets in Strathglass Park and shimming other roads.
  • The sidewalk on Hancock Street from Rumford Avenue to Essex Avenue will be rebuilt and CMP will install new poles on the left side.
  • Assessors from R.J.D. Appraisal are finalizing the town property revaluation and an estimate will be on the tax bill coming out, probably in August. The last one was believed to have been done 20 years ago, so these updates are to assure people are paying their fair share.

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