DIXFIELD – Tempers flared at Monday’s Board of Selectmen meeting between town officials, the public and Ludden Memorial Library Board of Trustees during a discussion about money matters.

But despite heated disagreements and flying accusations, the end result was a better understanding of the roles of both boards and an agreement to work together on accounting matters.

Selectman Chairman Hugh Daley jump started the discussion, explaining that when Dixfield went to a town-manager form of government in the 1980s, municipal rules changed. Selectmen were then required to take care of all funds, whether they were designated specifically for certain departments like the library or not.

“This doesn’t mean we’re going to spend them,” Daley said. “If it says it will be spent in the library, it will. In my opinion, the trustees are an advisory to selectmen. You advise us what you want to do with the money.”

Selectman Eugene Skibitsky, who confessed confusion over issues between both boards, said one disagreement centered on which board has policy control over the library.

When told by a trustee that their board has always worked with the librarian to establish policy, Skibitsky said head librarian Justy Nazar is a town employee and therefore, he believed selectmen, out to protect Nazar’s rights, could not give trustees the responsibility to establish policy concerning the librarian.

Discussion then devolved into funds, specifically a $300 gift from the American Legion to the library to be applied toward purchase of a set of updated encyclopedias.

Last winter, the Swasey-Torrey Post American Legion and Legion Auxiliary responded to a request for help from the library, donating $300 toward the cost. However, the encyclopedias arrived before the Legion money did so the town paid the $799 cost out of library budget funds, said Library Building Committee member Paul A. Jones.

But, when the Legion’s $300 library gift arrived, Town Manager Nanci Allard deposited it into the town’s general fund, he added.

Allard said she did that to offset money the town spent on the books, but trustees got testy, arguing that the Legion’s donation was a gift for the library and should never have been put into the general fund.

Tempers began to rise when resident and businesswoman Norine Clarke argued that Allard should have put the $300 gift into the library’s book budget instead. Allard heatedly argued that Frances Carlton of the Legion said she wanted the money to go to the town.

At that point, trustees passed around a letter from Carlton dated May 27 that said she was disappointed to learn that the donated money was deposited into a regular town account.

“I feel that the town has misused our donation, and regrettably, we cannot make future donations under these circumstances,” Carlton stated.

The letter upset Allard who said this was the first time she had seen it. But she stood by her prior statements that Carlton told her the $300 was to be used as an offset.

Daley then defused the situation, noting that Allard would speak with Carlton again to clear up any misunderstandings.

“I don’t intend to spend money that doesn’t belong to us,” he added.

Discussion then veered back to policy before nearly getting preempted into an impromptu executive session discussion with Nazar at Allard’s request. However, Nazar then left after Selectmen Secretary Charlotte Collins became irritated over accusations that the town was mismanaging library funds.

“We’re very honest with this money,” Collins said, chastising Nazar. “I don’t want (these accusations) going on here. It’s getting out of hand and this has got to stop.”

Because Nazar left, Allard rescinded her request for an executive session for a personnel discussion.


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