ALBION — Mary Lee Rounds hoped to change the way the town did things — particularly in protecting itself from liability — when she ran for the Board of Selectmen in 2011.

Last last month, the board’s chairwoman gave up.

The town’s three-person board will be a two-person board until the annual Town Meeting in March after they voted to accept Rounds’ resignation Oct. 28.

“I’m not going to fight this battle any more,” she said Tuesday. “I’ve fought this battle for too many years.”

Rounds criticized the town government, which she said lacks adequate job descriptions and safety regulations to protect itself from a lawsuit in the event someone gets hurt.

“My concern is the town’s going to be hung out to dry,” she said. “To me, there’s a lawsuit right around the bend.”

Beverly Bradstreet and Michael Getchell, the two remaining members of the board, voted Oct. 28 to accept her resignation, which was tendered Oct. 21.

They said they will leave the third seat on the board open because it would take almost until the annual Town Meeting in March to fill it.

Bradstreet said the disagreements between Rounds and the other board members amount to a difference in philosophy.

Rounds wanted paperwork in place to address possible problems, but Bradstreet said she prefers to handle each situation as it arises, dealing with the personalities of the people involved in any dispute.

“Sometimes I think it’s better to talk to people,” she said.

But Rounds said that approach is “a little scary.”

“The let’s-wait-until-it-happens attitude never works in the modern world,” Rounds said.

As chairwoman of the board and the associated titles of assessor and overseer of the poor, Rounds drew an annual stipend of $5,100, broken into four quarterly payments.

Bradstreet said Rounds’ resignation coincided roughly with the end of the third quarter, so that it was unlikely that any more money would change hands between the town and Rounds.

Differences

One issue that Rounds said was a good example of the division between herself and the other board members involves a privately owned fence that extends into the town’s right-of-way on Hussey Road by about 12 fenceposts.

Rounds said the fence poses a hazard for wide vehicles, such as school buses and snow plows making a turn. The fence could contribute to an accident, which could then lead to a lawsuit against the town.

In September, the board sent a letter to the landowner asking that the posts be moved. When that didn’t lead to action, Rounds wanted to begin a process to force the landowner to remove the posts.

But Bradstreet and Getchell voted against the measure because, Bradstreet said, they didn’t want to get into a legal battle.

“My first thing is I don’t want to go to court,” Bradstreet said. “I don’t want to hire a lawyer to fight with somebody about that.”

Another major issue for Rounds involved job descriptions for the town’s staff, which includes no full-time employees, but a variety of paid positions, such as the town clerk, deputy clerk, an animal control officer and the board members themselves.

Rounds, who worked previously for the state Workers’ Compensation Board, said her experience has taught her that job descriptions should include specific expectations and requirements, such as the ability to lift a certain amount of weight.

Without in-depth, customized job descriptions, Rounds said, there is no common language on what the job entails, which could lead to miscommunication and, eventually, legal battles.

“When it happens it’s too late,” she said. “In this world, you have to be three or four steps ahead.”

But Bradstreet said having a more detailed job description won’t protect the town from a person determined to take it to court.

“They could sue us for anything,” Bradstreet said.

The town relies on generic descriptions produced by the Maine Municipal Association for each position, which include enough information, Bradstreet said.

Rounds said the town also lacks many recommended safety regulations and procedures.

She said the lack of paperwork was an issue for the Maine Municipal Association, where members of the Risk Management Services program assess each member town to identify possible liability issues as they work to facilitate liability insurance purchases.

Bradstreet said that the only piece of paperwork that was amiss was a single incorrect form for a contractor, which was corrected this week.

Eric Conrad, spokesman for the association, said there is not a single number or category used to describe the level of risk in Albion, or any other town. Any specific risk concerns, he said, are addressed in discussions between risk management staff and the town.

Two voting members

Rounds’ resignation and the decision not to fill her position until March means that, for the next five months, there will be only two board members voting.

“I don’t think two people can make a decision,” Rounds said. “Either they agree on everything or nothing gets done.”

Town Clerk Amanda Dow said elections happen on a state-required extended timeline that require adequate time for nomination papers to be advertised to potential candidates, taken, filled out, and processed by town staff. She said the process for the March election will begin in November, and that scheduling a special election before then didn’t make sense.

The person elected to replace Rounds would only fill out the remainder of her three-year term, which ends in March.

Bradstreet said she and Getchell agreed to work without a third for the next several months.

“It’s fine,” she said, “as long as we agree on whatever we want to do.”

Matt Hongoltz-Hetling — 861-9287 [email protected] Twitter: @hh_matt