Anson residents will have the chance to weigh in Tuesday night on a proposed recall ordinance and whether to change the position of tax collector to an appointed one.
Both items are scheduled for discussion at a public hearing at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Garret Schenck Elementary School.
The proposals follow the indictment of former Tax Collector Claudia Viles, who was recently charged with theft, tampering with public records and other tax fraud-related charges after the disappearance of $438,712 from the Anson Town Office over four years. The town has also accused Viles of taking the money in a civil lawsuit.
Selectmen had been considering a change in the tax collector position, which is currently an elected one, before the investigation into the missing money, said Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Arnold Luce.
The proposed recall ordinance stems from the investigation this year, he said.
After the town brought its lawsuit against Viles in early September, she remained at work for nearly a month despite the accusation that she had purposely misappropriated residents’ excise taxes when they came to pay them at the town office. Viles resigned Sept. 10 after the Maine Municipal Association, which insures the town, said it could no longer provide bonding for any money she handled.
The Board of Selectmen then wrote a letter to Viles saying that they could not allow her to collect taxes, since it is illegal to do so without bonding. Up until that point, the board said they could not remove Viles or limit her duties because she was an elected official.
“It came from people wanting a recall ordinance in place in case an elected person does something that the townspeople don’t like. They would have a way of removing them,” Luce said.
Maine law does provide a recall procedure for elected officials, but only if the official in question has been convicted of a crime against the municipality while in office. Municipalities are also allowed to instate their own recall ordinances, but Anson does not currently have one.
The tax collector position is a one-year elected post that Viles has held for the last 42 years. The salary for the job is based on a percentage of tax fees collected each year.
The Board of Selectmen drafted a recall ordinance this summer that provides a process for the recall of any town official except school board members.
It states that the recall must be initiated by a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the number of voters who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election and that such a petition can’t be submitted within the first 90 days the official is in office.
Both the recall ordinance and the question of changing the tax collector position will be presented to voters in a referendum Nov. 3.
“I think it’s pretty self-explanatory. We’re just going to explain the articles as they will appear on the ballot and answer any questions anybody has,” Luce said.
A regular Board of Selectmen’s meeting will follow the public hearing at the Garret Schenck school.
Rachel Ohm — 612-2368