BUCKFIELD — With one selectman stating that companies “were taking advantage of a change in management,” the Select Board is taking a hard line on vendors who are charging the town more than estimated costs.

Much of their fury and frustration was aimed at the accounting firm of Ron L. Beaulieu & Co. of Portland, which conducted the town audit for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.

The town had already paid the firm about $7,900. Chairwoman Cheryl Coffman said she was told by former interim Town Manager Bradley Plante that the bill was paid in full. However, Lorna Nichols, the town manager since October, said she recently received two bills from the auditor — one for $1,925 and the other for $10,317.50. The total bill, Nichols said, would be more than $20,000, more than double the budgeted amount.

Plante was dissatisfied with the auditing firm. He claimed the auditor never visited the Town Office, which he described as unusual.

“This was not like any audit I have ever been involved in,” Plante, who has served as town manager in several communities in Maine and outside the state, said in September. “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.”

The town has since changed auditing firms.


“I was not at all satisfied with the audit,” Coffman said Tuesday.

Nichols was especially troubled by the hundreds of dollars charged under the category “other.” When she asked for an explanation, the firm merely stated that those were emails and phone calls with no breakdown of the charges.

Selectman Cameron Hinkley said he did not feel comfortable paying the $10,000 invoice. “I feel like we are being double charged,” he said.

“Frankly, I think he’s taking advantage of a change in management,” Selectman Mike Iveson said. “We need to take a hard line on this.”

The board unanimously agreed to delay paying the invoices for the audit until Nichols can get further answers.

Also concerning was an invoice from Greenwood Emergency Services in North Attleboro, Massachusetts, which also has an office in Brunswick, for repairs to the town firetruck. The agreed upon cost was for $5,350, but the town received a bill for $8,850.


“We shouldn’t pay the amount over what was estimated,” Coffman said, who added, “legally, they have to contact you if there is a discrepancy.”

In other business, the board scheduled a public hearing for 6:30 p.m.  Wednesday, Jan. 12, for the upcoming special town meeting. Residents will be asked to reapprove four articles previously approved by the town where the amount on the ballot was different than the amount printed on the warrant, which nullified the vote.

Residents will also be asked to disband the Board of Assessors and replace it with a contracted professional assessor that Nichols says will help avoid the financial difficulties the town has experienced during the past year.

Another article, if approved, will change the due date for the first half of property taxes from Nov. 15, 2021, to 30 days after the vote. That would prevent interest from accruing on the unpaid amount due to incorrect tax bills being sent out.

The special town meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 25

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