BUCKFIELD — In a blow to a town trying desperately to get back on its feet, interim Town Manager Bradley Plante has submitted his resignation in a letter to the Select Board and other town officials. The resignation takes effect Friday, Sept. 24.

“In view of some recent changes in my health and that of my wife, and in accordance with my contract, I am hereby giving my 10-day notice to you.  My last day will be the 24th of September,” Plante wrote.

Bradley Plante Allison Long photo

The letter was posted on social media Tuesday night by Budget Committee member Penny Horsfall. It was not discussed by Plante or the Select Board at Tuesday’s public hearing on the proposed 2021-22 town budget.

Plante is the fourth town manager in Buckfield since August 2020. He was hired in early May and was expected to serve for six months until the town hired a successor. The town has advertised and received applications, but hiring a new manager appears weeks away.

This was Plante’s second stint as interim town manager of Buckfield. He served for five months from August 2017 to January 2018.

Since March 2019, he had worked as a behavior health professional for the Auburn School Department.

Plante was hired as Poland town manager in 2014 following four years as town manager in Hampstead, Maryland. He served his three-year term in Poland and chose to let his contract expire and not seek a new one. He said at the time that it was not a resignation.

Plante served as town manager of Harrison from 2008-2010 and as a town administrator of Rockland, Massachusetts, for six years.

That experience helped Plante navigate through a maze of problems impacting Buckfield, beginning with the resignation of the town office staff last November when John Andrews was hired as town manager and resigned six months later.

Plante conceded in May that finances were a problem at the outset. The board authorized him to hire a certified public accountant to help figure things out. He had a folder full of old invoices that needed his immediate attention. Some of the department heads told him they had not seen budget figures in months.

After weeks of struggle, the audit was recently completed and is expected to be presented to the board at its next meeting Sept. 21.

“I am sure I speak for the Select Board when I say we are very grateful for his strong leadership in these difficult times,” Select Board Chairwoman Cheryl Coffman said. “We will miss his municipal knowledge and guidance. We will always be indebted to him for stepping into the town manager role in our time of need.”

Plante also worked with department heads to piece together a budget for the current fiscal year, which began July 1. A vote on it is scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 29, five days after his last day in office.

“I will make myself available for any questions after that date,” Plante wrote. “During the 10-day notice period I will attempt to finish up what I can and I will produce a ‘To Do’ list for your use.”

That list could be long. Residents are growing increasingly frustrated at the Town Office’s inability to register new vehicles. Since November, residents have had to go to neighboring Paris to register new vehicles. Earlier this week, Paris voted to bill the town $7 per registration to cover its expenses.

Part of the town’s inability to process new registrations is due to an outdated software package that officials hope to correct in the upcoming referendum. Article 3 asks voters to approve a three-year lease  to transition to TRIO software, which most municipalities use.

Saying he wished the town well, Plante thanked officials for their support.

“I want to thank the board for your support and assistance, as well as the town clerk, her deputy and all the great department heads and employees. I also want to thank the many residents who have pitched in and have supported us,” he wrote.”

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