Anson selectmen have been meeting in executive session to discuss a personnel issue related to a $77,000 discrepancy in the town’s financial statements that was revealed to residents in an auditor’s report at Town Meeting earlier this month.

“We’re still looking into it, but we may have some answers in a day or two,” said Arnold Luce, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Administrative Assistant Triss Smith on Wednesday said no action has been taken as a result of selectmen’s executive sessions.

Smith would not say whether town officials believe the issue is a criminal one or possibly a mistake in bookkeeping.

“I can’t give out that information. I have been advised by counsel to not talk about anything beyond what the scope of the audit was,” Smith said.

“We’re still trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Claudia Viles, the town tax collector and the person with responsibility for handling excise tax payments. Viles was at the Town Office on Wednesday and said she could not comment further.

She also would not comment on how the town, which runs on a budget of about $1.5 million annually, is functioning without the missing money, which according to the audit would have come from motor vehicle excise taxes.

Motor vehicle excise tax is a local tax that remains in the community in which it is collected.

The audit report, released March 5 by Purdy Powers and Company, points out a discrepancy between the number of motor vehicle registrations processed at the town office and the amount of excise taxes and fees collected by the town.

It states that there was a difference of approximately $77,000 between the expected taxes and fees based on the number of registered vehicles and the amount deposited into town accounts.

Rich Emerson, an accountant with Purdy Powers and Company, the Portland firm that performed Anson’s audit, declined to comment on the results, but said it wasn’t uncommon to find discrepancies.

“This type of thing happens all the time,” Emerson said, noting that similar issues arise in organizations of all kinds, such as private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies.

“Most of it we probably don’t know about,” he said. At this point, it would not be accurate to say that the money was misappropriated, Emerson said.

Since the firm has submitted its final report, it is no longer looking into the town’s books, he added. Accountants can examine the issue further if authorized by selectmen, he said.

“Our work is done. We will sit still until we are instructed otherwise,” he said.

Staff writer Peter McGuire contributed to this report.

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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