Audit’s absence stirs rift on board

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Poland – Two selectmen believe Saturday’s town meeting should be postponed because the town violated state laws by not making the town audit available to voters in the town report.

Selectmen Wendy Sanborn and Glenn Peterson are refusing to join their board on stage at town meeting, saying Poland has failed to include an audit in the town’s annual report published earlier this week. The audit, according to Peterson, is late because tax incremental financing (TIF) figures were not yet available.

Town attorney Bryan Dench, of Skelton, Taintor & Abbott in Auburn, said he had no knowledge of Poland failing to include the audit, and if he did it would be considered a mere technicality.

Dench and his firm also represent the Sun Journal in newsroom legal matters.

Title 30A, Section 2801 of state law requires that only certain excerpts from the auditor’s report be included in the town report. Title 30A, Section 5934 requires that the audit be made available to the public three days before town meeting. But Dench said it is his opinion that failure to provide an audit report is considered a technical error – not a violation.

But Peterson and Sanborn believe that whether this year’s town meeting is legal or not, information like the town audit should be accessible to townspeople.

Selectman Sandra Knowles had no comment about the lack of an audit in the annual town report.

“When the selectmen are at town meeting, they are there as citizens,” Knowles said. “We are not doing anything but being citizens there,” she said of fellow selectmen refusing to occupy their customary seats.

Town Manager Richard Chick, who has been Poland’s chief administrator for 34 years, was unavailable for comment Thursday. According to a town official, he is in the hospital and will be unable to attend the meeting Saturday.

Peterson also noted that Chick approved the warrant articles without any vote from selectmen, as he has done in the past. Dench added that state law doesn’t require selectmen to vote on warrant articles.

At the April 18 selectmen’s meeting, Chairman Reginald Jordan stated he has been in the town for more than 20 years and had never seen an audit. Jordan did not immediately return phone calls Thursday.

At that same meeting, Peterson added that the only town audit he’d ever seen turned up accidentally in a box of papers lying around after town meeting last year.

“The 2004 audit was accidentally left behind by Chick,” he said. “He never forwarded that audit to selectmen. When I asked Chick about the audit, his reply was, I did not think you were interested in the audits because previous boards were not.’ “

Sanborn added that the board has gone too many years without rules in place.

“I do not want to go yet another year not following the state rules,” she said. “Everything is such a mess; we’re just trying to get rules and finally make things orderly.”

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