CHELSEA — Bills were paid, regular nighttime selectmen’s meetings were scheduled and the chairman of the Board of Selectmen surrendered her chairmanship Thursday during a “positive” selectmen’s meeting — the town’s first with a full board since February.

Thursday’s selectmen’s meeting followed a special town meeting where residents authorized $50,000 to audit town records and for necessary legal expenses involving alleged misconduct at the Town Office.

For Selectman Carole Swan — arrested Feb. 10 in a corruption probe — it was her first meeting since being arrested for allegedly soliciting a $10,000 kickback from a town plowing contractor.

As one of her first acts, Swan made a motion at Thursday’s selectmen’s meeting to appoint Linda Leotsakos as chairman of the board.

Selectman Michael Pushard had been the only selectman conducting business since Swan’s arrest. Tanya Condon resigned her seat in November 2010.

Swan had been free on bail since her arrest. But only after a judge amended her bail conditions March 15 was she allowed to attend selectmen’s meetings and conduct town business.

On Tuesday, voters elected Leotsakos to serve out the 15 months left on Condon’s term — filling the three-person board.

“We accomplished everything we hoped to accomplish in that first meeting,” Leotsakos said Friday. “We were moving forward in a very difficult situation.”

Bills paid Thursday included $537,984 to the RSU; $15,686 to the state treasurer; $15,881 to Preti, Flaherty, Beliveau & Pachios; and $19,380 to Frank Monroe Construction.

Monroe is the contractor who allegedly paid Swan $10,000 in 2010 — around the time he was able to secure the town’s $90,000-per-year plow contract without bidding. Police allege he was later asked, in February, to inflate a bill for road sand so as to divert the proceeds — another $10,000 — to Swan.

In the weeks leading up to Thursday’s meetings, Town Manager Angela Gordon had refused to pay bills — including the town payroll and what the town owed Regional School Unit 12 — believing it was illegal for a single selectman to sign warrants.

She questioned the legality of a Feb. 23 special selectmen’s meeting in which Pushard, acting unilaterally, voted 1-0 to schedule Tuesday’s election and Thursday’s meetings.

Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf said residents were glad to see the bills paid Thursday.

“It was a positive meeting,” Langsdorf said Friday. “The comments and questions that were raised by residents were about moving forward, in terms of having a full board of selectmen and getting some good governance practices in place, and writing a new purchasing ordinance, and considering the possibility of a town charter,” Langsdorf said. “Citizens weren’t dwelling on misdeeds, but looking forward to the town moving beyond these issues.”

He said Swan’s motion to elect Leotsakos chairman also was a positive step forward.

And Langsdorf said residents were relieved the town is in a position to get all its bills paid and up to date.

“The town had the money to pay all its bills — including the school (bill) that was somewhere around $537,000,” he said. “Most of the money on that warrant went to the school.”

Langsdorf said the decision to hold Tuesday’s election and special town meeting on Thursday served the town.

“The town got back on track pretty quickly by having this election and town meeting, considering only last month these issues came to light and the town was left with one selectman,” he said.

A new meeting schedule was adopted Thursday, he said.

From now on, selectmen meetings will be held at 6:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month.

Selectmen have been meeting in the morning, which has prevented people who work from attending. The last few months, people were not even allowed to speak at the meetings.

“There will be opportunities for public comment at all future selectmen meetings,” he said. “People are very appreciative. They also expressed a concern about the size of the meeting room at the Town Office. In the future, selectmen will be holding meetings either at the school or some other place where there’s more room.”

Langsdorf said the next municipal election — June 28 — will be to fill Swan’s seat on the board for a three-year term; and to select a school board member for RSU 12. Polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. at the Town Office.

Leotsakos said nomination papers will be available Monday at the Town Office for both positions.

Swan has not indicated whether she plans to seek re-election.

Town Meeting is 6:30 p.m. June 30 at Chelsea Elementary School.

The next selectmen’s meeting is at 6:30 p.m. April 13 at a location yet to be determined. Leotsakos said it will be a site large enough to accommodate a big group.

Mechele Cooper — 623-3811, ext. 408

[email protected]


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