ANSON — Voters overwhelmingly approved changing the tax collector job to an appointive position Tuesday and also approved a recall ordinance.

The change to the tax collector job was approved 227 to 151 while the recall ordinance was approved by a vote of 290 to 80. Eight ballots were left blank for the recall question. The town has 1,581 registered voters.

“Appointing the tax collector is something I thought should have been done years ago,” said Chairman of the Board of Selectmen Arnold Luce. “I think it’s going to make the office work so much better.”

The change to the tax collector job will go into effect at the annual town meeting in March, while the recall ordinance will take effect immediately, Luce said. The town currently has an interim tax collector who was appointed by the board following the resignation of former elected Tax Collector Claudia Viles in September.

Luce said the town has functioned better with an appointed tax collector, and many voters echoed that sentiment on Tuesday.

“I think it’s probably a good idea,” said Brian Burns, 62, one resident who voted to support the change in the tax collector’s job. “It gives the town more power to do something in case something happens.”


Burns also voted in favor of the recall ordinance and said that neither vote was influenced by a recent investigation into $438,712 in excise tax money missing from the town office. An investigation by state police and the Office of the Maine Attorney General has yielded 13 criminal charges against former tax collector Viles, who has pleaded not guilty to the allegations and is awaiting trial.

“I just think times have changed,” Burns said. “Claudia was tax collector for about 40 years, and it’s probably time to change the way things are done.”

Craig Smith, a teacher at Carrabec High School, also said he voted in favor of changing the tax collector job but did not vote on the recall ordinance.

“It gives the town more control,” Smith said of the appointive position. “I felt as though the town had to make some unfortunate decisions (in the Claudia Viles case), and it was a situation where at times their hands were tied.”

In addition to the criminal charges against Viles, the town also filed a civil lawsuit against her in August, alleging that she had stolen more than $400,000 in tax dollars. Despite the allegations, Viles continued to work at the town office for several weeks while town officials said she could not be removed or put on leave because she was elected.

Some voters who voted against the proposed change said they felt it reduced the amount of say residents have in local government.


“I think the job should be elected,” said resident Tim Nichols, 51. “It gives people more power and takes that power out of the hands of the government.”

Nichols also said his votes were not influenced by the recent allegations against Viles. “I think mistakes can be made, and everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” he said.

Virginia Clifford, 56, said that although she believes residents should be able to elect a tax collector, she voted to support the change.

“With all the money that was supposedly stolen, I wouldn’t want to elect (Viles) again,” she said. “I’m afraid that all these years my vehicle registrations haven’t been right.

Clifford said she didn’t vote on the recall ordinance because it “didn’t interest me.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

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