BUCKFIELD — Outgoing interim Town Manager Bradley Plante once again Tuesday criticized the way Ron L. Beaulieu & Co. of Portland conducted the town’s long-awaited 2019-20 audit, which is finally completed.

Plante, who submitted his resignation last week citing health reasons, has complained about the process throughout his four months on the job.

The 2019-20 fiscal year ended June 30, 2020, but the audit didn’t begin until early this year.

“This was not like any audit I have ever been involved in,” said Plante, who has served as town manager in several communities in Maine and outside the state. “He never came into the office. He kept asking us to send him documents that we would provide. It was the most unusual and difficult audit I have ever been involved with. He says our office was uncooperative and unhelpful, which is not true.”

Plante said at a previous board meeting that he inherited the auditing firm, which was hired by the previous Select Board before he arrived. Not knowing where the town stood financially was difficult as Plante and his department heads developed the town budget for 2021-22 fiscal year, which began July 1,  and is not scheduled to be voted on until Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Work has yet to begin on the 2020-21 audit.

While Plante’s tenure in Buckfield ends Friday, he recommended, and the board agreed, to invite Beaulieu to present his audit for the 2019-20 fiscal year at the next Select Board meeting Oct. 5.

In other business, the board accepted Plante’s resignation with regret.

“It’s been a rough road this past year, but it would have been even rougher without Brad,” Select Board Chairwoman Cheryl Coffman said.

The board did not reveal who would run the town after Plante’s last day Friday.

Buckfield has had four town managers in 13 months.

Jennifer Lowell was appointed to the Social Services Committee for a three-year term, while James Lowell was appointed to two-year terms on both the Social Services and the Road committees.

A long discussion was held on office hours. Selectwoman Janet Iveson, who volunteers at the Town Office, suggested that the office close on Fridays to allow staff time to prepare reports and catch up on paperwork, especially while shorthanded due to the pandemic. Friday is the slowest day of the week, she said. That would leave the office closed Mondays and Fridays.

While it is closed to the public, office staff would still be working there.

“Closing Mondays and Fridays is a good short-term solution,” Iveson said.

The board agreed, voting to open the office Tuesdays from noon to 8 p.m. and Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. The board is hopeful that the office can return to regular office hours by Election Day, Nov. 2.

Plante noted that absentee ballots are available at the Town Office for the Sept. 28 budget referendum. Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Municipal Center at 34 Turner St. At the polls, the town is “strongly recommending you wear a mask and conduct social distancing when possible.”


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