RUMFORD — The Budget Committee has unanimously approved a proposed 2023-24 municipal budget with an increase of 8.47% over the current year.

Town Manager Stacy Carter said inflation and the rising cost of goods and services led to the $11.1 million budget, which includes $240,000 in initiated articles.

“I’m not really as concerned about the mill rate as what the numbers indicate,” Carter said. “We should be sitting pretty well. I don’t see a huge increase in the mill rate. If the valuation was the same, it would be $1.50 tax-rate increase.”

During the March 9 vote, Carter told the Budget Committee, “This budget is the cost to keep our services.”

The Cost of Living Adjustment went as high as 7.6% in the Northeast and above 8% nationally, he said. Social Security increased payments by 8.2%.

He said the majority of the budget is wages.


“We’re really just trying to stay competitive because we found that during hiring processes, there’s a lot of people that are calling to inquire about a position, but when they find out what the pay is … The outside, the private sector is way above where we are.”

He said it’s difficult to attract good, qualified people because the pay “is not there. A lot of the (department) budgets were the same as the previous year.”

He said this budget set wage increases for nonunion personnel at 7%. “We have found it extremely difficult to retain or attract employees due to disparity of wages between other public entities and private business.”

He said town leaders are committed to being competitive and keeping institutional knowledge.

“We are alone in this as we are seeing other government and private-sector employers raising wages to meet demand,” Carter said. “This increase doesn’t come close to putting us above others. In fact, we still have many positions still under the average rate.”

Carter said the high cost of inflation has hit many areas. This increase in the budget can be attributed to:
• Wages (plus additional hours in positions that had been cut previously.


• Rumford’s solid waste assessment is up 17%.

• The Med-Care ambulance service assessment is up 32%.

• Capital account is up 9.4%.

• Winter road maintenance (sand/salt) is up 12%.

• Insurance is up 15%.

The Fire Department budget is up 16%, primarily due to the decision to add two firefighters for the safety of staff and residents.


“We do not have adequate manning or call force to meet the requirement of the two-person in, two-person out standard,” he said.

The standard of having two firefighters inside a burning building and two outside is a requirement of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Carter added that this also increases benefits and insurance.

Fire Chief Chris Reed said with the addition of two firefighters, it will give them three available from Rumford all the time, along with a full-timer from Mexico, to give them the two in, two out standard.

Selectman Frank DiConzo noted that the Select Board had earlier voted to change the level of service to reflect this, citing that this is a safety issue.

If approved, this budget will be an 8.47% increase, pared down from 9.75%, which Carter said is “well within (the state’s legal) limit.”


He added, “Having said all of that, with the information that we have, there is no indication that the mill rate will go up significantly. With all else the same, the mill rate would go up $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. We have had substantial new tax base, as well as an increase of revenue-sharing, which likely will bring that number down and possibly erase it.”

Carter said he will not know the full extent of the town’s total valuation until after the budget is voted on.

“But I do know we have millions of dollars of new tax base,” he said. “What I don’t know is how many millions of dollars did the mill depreciate. I certainly don’t think it’s more than the amount that we have brought in.”

The other thing is Rumford Hydro, which is probably the town’s biggest taxpayer, Carter said.

“We were on a three-year agreement on that tax bill. That’s over, so they’re getting a new valuation and I don’t know where that’s going to come in — higher or lower — that’s all based on their sales, income, etc.,” he said.

He also didn’t yet know what the Regional School Unit 10 budget will be, and the Oxford County budget is going up slightly.


What Carter said he does know is that the town has a “very healthy fund balance, which we can use to stabilize the mill rate.

The tax stabilization program has seniors that applied locked in at the lower mill rate. There would be no increase for them, he said.

He said Rumford also expects additional state revenue-sharing.
“In 2018, Rumford received $509,000. We’re up to $1.4 million. We’re projected to get something like $1.6 million, so we’re doing really well,” he said.

A public hearing on the budget and voting on several nonbudget items will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, June 5, at Mountain Valley High School.

Voting on the remainder of the annual warrant will be held at the polls starting at 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 13, at the American Legion Hall, 184 Congress St.

Comments are no longer available on this story

filed under: