ROME — The executive board of the Kennebec Regional Development Authority, which runs FirstPark in Oakland, has turned down a request for detailed financial and legal information from the Board of Selectmen in Rome, one of the business park’s investor communities.

Issues raised by the request are expected be discussed at a meeting later this month.

In a Sept. 29 letter to the three Rome selectmen, KRDA Executive Board President Howard Mette, from Winslow, said he appreciated the selectmen’s concerns and intended to engage the authority’s members in a civil discussion.

“We are aware of the current economic environment. We have been so since the inception of this project,” Mette said. “As a board and an organization, we have adjusted our operations and expenses to meet economic changes as they have occurred. Such adjustments have been made with our member’s participation.”

In August, Rome Selectmen Kelly Archer, Richard LaBelle and Malcolm Charles sent a letter to Mette asking the KRDA board to provide multiple scenarios for the organization’s future, a rundown of its current value and an explicit legal analysis of how it could leave the organization.

It cited residents’ “overwhelming disapproval” of the financial burden of KRDA membership and the Rome board’s intent to call for greater accountability. Selectmen sent a copy of the letter to 10 other communities, encouraging them to follow suit and press the KRDA board for more information.


KRDA, which operates the FirstPark business park in Oakland, was established in 1998. Twenty-four towns and cities in Kennebec and Somerset counties agreed to invest in the park by paying down its initial debt in exchange for a portion of revenue from business development in the park. Development, however, has not taken off in the park, and the partner communities have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars on the venture.

In his response, Mette said that his board would not provide financial forecasts, called pro forma statements, as Rome requested, because its members were not “legally qualified” to prepare the documents.

“The assumptions, presented in your letter, are just that, assumptions that appear to be without any factual basis,” Mette said. The authority’s financial statements were presented to its membership and are open to inspection, Mette added. If the selectmen wanted to engage the services of a certified public accountant to “prepare pro formas based on the assumptions presented in your letter, you are welcome to inspect our documents in a mutually agreed upon process,” he said.

There would be a discussion of member communities’ legal responsibilities under the enabling legislation and its interlocal revenue sharing agreement at the authority’s general assembly meeting Oct. 29, Mette said.

In a telephone interview Monday, Mette said the authority occasionally conducts a review of the agreements with representatives of the town in the general assembly.

“We feel that often, with the turnover in representation, that it is a good thing to review how the agreements work,” Mette said. “This seemed to be a good time to do it.” He said the decision to have a review now was “not necessarily” in reaction to the selectmen’s letter.


He had received no communications from any towns other than Rome, Mette said.

In an email Sunday, Rome Selectman Richard LaBelle said selectmen intended to discuss Mette’s letter and the town’s possible response at its meeting Monday evening at the Rome Community Center.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire

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