BUCKFIELD — The never-ending odyssey of the town’s 2019-20 fiscal year audit may finally be nearing completion.

Interim Town Manager Bradley Plante told the Select Board at Tuesday’s meeting that he expects to receive the report soon. Whether the auditor makes a formal presentation to the board, which Plante said is standard procedure, remains uncertain.

“He’s been very difficult and very uncooperative to work with,” Plante said.

According to Plante, the previous Select Board chose the firm of Ron L. Beaulieu & Company of Portland in June 2020, but the firm did not begin the audit until January 2021. The auditor has never stepped into the Buckfield Town Office, Plante said.

“I hope he shows up,” Plante said.

The lack of a completed audit has hampered the town’s effort to develop a budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1.

It’s a mess Plante inherited when he replaced former Town Manager John Andrews in May on an interim basis. The town had gone through four town managers since August 2020.

In other business, Plante discussed the Bear Pond Road culvert over Bog Brook, which is in danger of collapsing, according to the Public Works Department. The Army Corps of Engineers has told the town not to replace the deteriorating culvert itself.

It suggested Plante place a weight restriction on the culvert.

“I hope to talk with an engineer with the Maine DOT on what the proper weight restriction should be,” Plante said. “We’re not engineers. This is high on our priority list.”

If the culvert fails before getting replaced, the resulting detour would be 15 miles, Plante said.

The town is due to receive $215,561.84 from the American Rescue Plan Act passed by Congress earlier this year. It applied for the money once it became available to towns Sept. 1, Plante said. There are restrictions on how the money can be used. The town will open a new account to keep the money separate from other funds.

The Public Works Department successfully bid $5,000 on a 2012 Ford F-350 pickup truck with a plow from the Maine State Surplus Lot in Augusta. The asking price was $7,000. It will be a utility vehicle and and also used to plow town parking lots. The existing Ford F-250 will become the road foreman’s vehicle.

In another matter, the roof has been removed from the sand shed, Plante said, and the sand must be covered with a tarp, according to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection. The tarp will prevent salt from seeping into the water table, he said.

The second and final public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 14 at at the Town Office or via Zoom. It will go to voters Sept. 28, with absentee ballots now available at the Town Office.

The board met in executive session for 35 minutes to discuss candidates for town manager.


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