BUCKFIELD — The Select Board is withholding further payment for the 2019-20 financial audit until it receives satisfactory explanations on two recent invoices.

The town has paid the accounting firm of Ron L. Beaulieu & Co. of Portland about $7,900, believing the bill was paid in full. But Town Manager Lorna Nichols said she recently received two new invoices for $1,925 and $10,317.50.

Combined with what has already paid, the total bill stands at more than $20,000.

The new invoices include work done between April 7 and June 7, 2021, even though the firm sent out an invoice on June 29 that was paid by the town.

“It is surprising that all of this work would not have been included in an invoice which was sent to you at the end of June even though all of the work related to it was completed on or before June 7, 2021,” town attorney John Conway wrote in a memorandum to Nichols dated Jan. 10.

Nichols agreed that the timing of the invoices makes no sense.

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“It seems very suspicious that there would be work done in April and May and two invoices provided to the town for payment after that, and none of that was included until six months later,” Nichols said.

The invoice for $10,317.50 reveals that Beaulieu was charging the town $245 per hour for his work on the audit, which included non-audit services such as drafting financial statements, schedule of changes in capital assets and long-term liabilities, reconciliation of general ledger accounts and the adjustment and correcting of journal entries.

The contract was signed by previous Town Manager John Andrews, but the contract did not include a fee or rate schedule, Nichols noted.

“This particular contract to me is highly unusual. That’s not normal,” said Nichols, who became town manager four months ago.

Chairwoman Cheryl Coffman, the only current board member who served when Andrews signed the contract, said it would have been nice if Andrews had informed the board of the hourly rate.

The town was unaware of the existence of the non-audit services contract until the firm recently provided a copy that was signed by Andrews.

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Selectman Cameron Hinkley wondered how Andrews could sign the contract when town policies forbid the town manager from spending anything more than $5,000 without board approval.

The board instructed Nichols to reach out to the audit firm one last time for an explanation of the latest invoices. The board passed the motion unanimously.

“Why don’t we throw the ball back into Ron Beaulieu’s court and say we won’t pay this until we get a satisfactory itemization?” Selectman Mike Iveson asked.

In other business, Nichols said there is an issue with Railroad Bed Road, which is not maintained by the town, but is part of the state’s ITS snowmobile trail network. The local snowmobile club grooms and maintains the trail, but an individual has recently plowed the road. The board will look into the issue and consult with the snowmobile club.

The board approved using the Fire and Rescue Station for a COVID-19 rapid test and vaccine clinic run by Crossroads Youth Center of Saco on Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

A special town meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 25, with voting at the Municipal Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

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The main purpose is to correct a discrepancy in the budgeted amount between the town warrant and the official ballot on three articles passed at the Sept. 28 town meeting.

Because the amounts on the ballot for debt service, winter roads and summer roads did not match the amount listed on the warrant and signed by town officials, the votes were declared invalid, even though they were adopted by voters.

Residents will elect a moderator, vote to appropriate an additional $52,228 in state revenue that the town received from the Legislature, set the date for the first property tax payment, changing it from Nov. 15 to 30 days after commitment date, with interest starting after that.

The other articles include the elimination of the Board of Assessors, which would not occur until the June town meeting, and eventually replacing it with a contracted professional assessor. Another article would allocate $5,000 to pay for the assessor for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends June 30.

Absentee ballots are available at the Town Office.

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