NORRIDGEWOCK — The Board of Selectmen and sewer commissioners plan to meet with the town auditor again in January to clear up confusion over Sewer Department finances.

Some members of the sewer commission, which oversees spending for the department, say the former town manager and the town auditor lied to them about the department’s finances.

Ron Currier, vice chairman of the commission, and commissioner Bruce Obert said that in a meeting with the auditor, Ron Smith, in November, they were told the department has no reserve money. Smith said earlier this month that he meant only that the department is in debt, and town bookkeeper Peter Lyman confirmed Wednesday night at a Board of Selectmen’s meeting that the department does have money in its reserve accounts.

The board agreed after discussing the issue Wednesday night to invite Smith to their next meeting, Jan. 6, to clear up any confusion over the sewer money, since Currier and Obert continue to argue that the department has no money in its reserve accounts. They also say they have been given inaccurate portrayals of the state of the department’s finances over the last few months.

There is no record of the sewer commission having met in 2014, and copies of the town audit and sewer finances are available at the Town Office for the public, despite commissioners’ arguments that they were not advised of financial information.

“We were lied to several times,” Currier said. In the letter submitted to the board earlier this month, he wrote that the commission was told by former Town Manager and Sewer Administrator Michelle Flewelling that they had over $300,000 in reserve accounts — a figure that is accurate, according to Lyman.

“Four commissioners were there at that meeting and we all heard the same thing, that there was no money in the accounts,” Currier said of the Nov.19 meeting with Smith. “I called two of them before I wrote that letter and they agreed. That raised my hair to the top of my head.”

Smith said earlier this month that he did not mean the department literally has no money, just that it is in debt to the town and has operated over the last few years with subsidies from the town, although there is money in the bank account.

Currier suggested that the board meet with Smith to discuss “the integrity of the audit in its entirety,” since in his opinion it should have included more written explanation of the financial numbers.

“That should be on record so not just the town manager could look at it but the board could look at it, we could look at it or the general public and say, ‘Maybe this is something we want to follow up on’ or maybe ‘It’s a recommendation we don’t think is relevant.'”

Currier also criticized the fact that the audit is not published in the town report, although Town Office clerk Sharon Dodge said the annual audit usually is not finalized by March, so the town is unable to publish it in its entirety.

“We need to move beyond this and get it straightened out,” said Ron Frederick, chairman of the Board of Selectmen. “It’s not painting the town in a positive light.”

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected]

Twitter: @rachel_ohm


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