RUMFORD, Maine — Budget angst and unrest over taxes is giving selectmen heartburn.
Emotions roiled at a meeting this past week when newly re-elected Selectman Brad Adley said it had been “an interesting week,” of which selectmen spent more than eight hours cutting the budget.
“It really sucked and I really mean that,” Adley said. “It was bad, horrible …The biggest disappointment was the group SAVE Rumford.”
He was referring to a political activist group that urged residents to vote no on the municipal budget and picketed around town before and during the June 11 referendum.
“They want to save Rumford,” Adley said, “but nobody came out to our meetings except one member. I’ve got to give Candace [Casey] credit. She was here every night. I didn’t agree with everything she said.” He said Casey commented on just about every line item and suggested ideas.
Adley railed against the rest of the group for not attending budget meetings and joining discussions.
“We got nothing from them, and I’m very disappointed,” Adley said.
Town Manager Carlo Puiia said that he had heard Rumford is at a crossroads as a result of the budget unrest.
“I hate to see politics divide a community,” he said. “Some of the (SAVE Rumford) picketers were mocking me and poking me with their signs. I’ve been accused of lying. It’s been said that I’m not trusted any longer and that nobody wants to see me here anymore.”
He added, “It’s unfortunate, but I hope the people sitting in this room feel the same way I do. I know everyone loves this town and we may not love each other, but we should still try and get along in the best interest of this town.”
Puiia said some townspeople might not approve of the budget cuts, but he urged everyone to move forward in a positive direction.
“The outside is looking in,” he said. “Don’t think they aren’t, because they are. Don’t let us squander this opportunity to remain a community.”
He received a standing ovation and applause from some townspeople at the meeting.
Later, however, some of the more outspoken SAVE Rumford members, including Len Greaney, Mark Belanger, Phil Zinck and Casey, objected to Adley’s comments, saying they did attend meetings and offered ideas that the board ignored and rejected.
All expressed frustration with selectmen that their concerns were not being heard. Casey said one selectman had even asked her not to send him any more emails.