NORRIDGEWOCK — A former town employee who the town manager fired in January is now one of five people on the board of selectmen overseeing the town manager’s work.

Residents voted at the polls Monday to elect Charlotte Curtis to her first one-year term as selectman. Town Manager Michelle Flewelling fired Curtis Jan. 30 from her clerical duties at the Town Office for secretly making audio recordings of conversations at the front desk.

Voters also elected another newcomer: Matthew Everett, who received 196 votes. The others elected were incumbent James Hilton, 248 votes; Chairman Ron Frederick, 245; Curtis, 244; and incumbent Sallie Wilder, 191. Richard Holt sought re-election but came up short with 153 votes. Reginald Frederick received 149; Tom Lint, 136; and Donna Davis, 134.

Curtis, who before she was fired filed a complaint with the Maine Human Rights Commission alleging age discrimination by Flewelling, said she was happy to start working as a selectman to improve the town.

“I just hope that we can work together to get some of the problems cleared up,” she said after Monday’s two-and-a-half hour Town Meeting attended by about 150 people.

Curtis has also filed a union grievance against the town and said as selectman she would recuse herself from any discussions pertaining to that matter.

But some residents question another possible conflict: uncollected sewer bills.

Though Curtis was fired from her 40-hour-per-week job as office clerk in the town office, she still retained her elected positions of town clerk and treasurer until Monday elections. As treasurer, she was responsible for collecting sewer bill payments from residents. There are currently thousands of dollars in unpaid sewer bills, however, because Curtis said she purposefully did not record a lien on some unpaid accounts over the last few years. She said she didn’t want someone’s home to be foreclosed on because of a sewer bill.

Once a lien is placed and 18 months passes without full repayment, the person’s house goes into foreclosure in order to recover payment.

It is unclear if Curtis can serve as a selectman if she has unfinished business as town treasurer.
“Treasurers and tax collectors of towns may not simultaneously serve as municipal officers or as elected or appointed assessors until they have completed their duties and had a final settlement with the town,” according to Title 30-A, Chapter 121, Section 2526.

Curtis said she plans to complete what’s called a settlement with selectmen to officially hand over the uncollected accounts to the next town treasurer.

But selectmen aren’t sure yet whether it’s that simple. Ron Frederick, chairman of the board, said town officials will seek legal advice.

The next selectmen’s meeting is tonight at 6 p.m. at the town office.
After Monday’s meeting, Flewelling said she had already received a tentative request for a vote recount.

In other town meeting business, residents approved a total 2012 budget of $1,732,494, which is nearly $3,000 less than last year. The amount includes enough to replace a plow truck.

Erin Rhoda — 612-2368
[email protected]

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