BUCKFIELD — After almost an hour of discussion Tuesday night, selectmen unanimously approved an emergency purchases policy for the town that would require the town manager to notify the board ahead of time and utilize an expedited bid process.

The new policy will be added Buckfield’s Personnel Policies and Procedures Handbook. It states that the town manager will notify each selectman of the emergency situation and course of action, which includes replacing or purchasing goods or services. The expedited bid process is defined as requesting quotes verbally, by email or by fax.

Board of Selectmen Chairman Martha Catevenis and Scott Violette voted two weeks ago for Town Manager Cindy Dunn to research other towns’ emergency purchasing policies after Dunn bought a 2002 Sterling sanding and plowing truck for $24,900 without notifying selectmen prior to the purchase. The town’s 2000 Sterling had caught on fire while out maintaining the roads during a nor’easter in December, and Dunn first tried to rent or borrow a truck to no avail.

Selectman Cheryl Coffman did not vote for the research resolution.

The research into other emergency purchasing policies comes on the heels of correspondence to the town from Maine Municipal Association’s Breana Behrens, who wrote “it was likely permissible” for Dunn to make an emergency truck purchase without selectmen approval if there wasn’t a policy in place for such situations. She recommended that the town implement an emergency purchases policy.

“Through the town manager list serve, I posted the question (about other policies),” Dunn said Tuesday as she handed selectmen a draft policy she had created. “Unfortunately, the response wasn’t as good as I had hoped. It did put some thoughts in my head.” 

Advertisement

Catevenis shared a similar policy she came across, the only difference being that there could be monetary caps for the policy.

“The thing for me is, do we put a cap on it?” Violette asked.

Coffman didn’t want a monetary cap attached the policy, saying town situations are fluid and the policy might have to be revisited again.

Catevenis reiterated she wasn’t as concerned about the purchase itself, or a monetary value attached to the policy, but she wanted the board to be notified of emergency purchases ahead of time.

“I don’t think there should be a number in here because I would say 98 percent or higher of the time an emergency situation is going to be covered by insurance,” Dunn said. “If your insurance claim doesn’t meet the cost of the purchase, then there’s a situation. I can’t think of an emergency situation that would cost less than thousands of dollars. There might be some out there, but I can’t think of any right now.”

Selectmen, with the help of Dunn and residents in the audience, simplified Dunn’s proposed policy. They cut out the part about holding an emergency selectmen’s meeting and requiring selectmen approval for emergency purchases.

Advertisement

They approved the policy.

“I’m thrilled with it. … We just know it’s happening,” Catevenis said about future emergency purchases.

Dunn shared with selectmen the final reimbursement number for the burned truck from the insurance company, which was $34,813, including a towing fee of $3,750.

“Check is in the mail,” she said to laughter from selectmen and residents.

The town had to buy new tires for the new Sterling for $1,300, as the ones from the burned vehicle weren’t salvageable, Dunn said after the meeting. The conveyor chain had to be replaced and the truck needed some welding — a combined cost of roughly $5,000.

“I am going to say we broke about even,” Dunn said during the meeting.

[email protected]


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.