One member of Readfield’s Select Board apparently has resigned over a conflict-of-interest dispute that erupted over the town’s snow plowing contract.

He hasn’t submitted a written letter of resignation, however, so it’s not clear whether Tom Dunham actually has left the board.

“I just had a bad meeting.” Dunham said Friday. “I just sort of snapped.”

On Monday, though, Dunham’s intent was clear enough. The town of Readfield records its Select Board meetings, where the dispute has been captured.

“I think I’m going to resign this board,” he said, in lieu of voting on a motion to support Readfield’s town manager and road commissioner Eric Dyer.

Dunham’s abrupt announcement capped a short, heated discussion about the actions of Lenny Reay, owner of Reay Excavation, who serves on the town’s Road Committee. Reay took part in discussions about crafting the bid for Readfield’s snow plowing contract and then said he would bid on the contract.

“Lenny’s getting railroaded,” Dunham said as he collected his belongings before he walked out. “How can Lenny discussing the contract at a public meeting, and I was there for both of those (Road Committee) meetings, how could he sway the contract?”

But the other for members of the Select Board backed Dyer in his decision not to consider Reay’s bid.

When the subject came up near the end of the meeting, board member Kathryn Mills Woodsum said Dyer clearly laid out his case.

“It’s very clear that there is a potential conflict of interest in having a person work on the bid process and then bid,” he said. “I don’t care who it’s for; I still have the same opinion.”

“You don’t allow a bidder to take part in developing a bid for a multimillion-dollar contract when they have intimate knowledge of their business and most of the competitors,” Dyer said. In small towns in particular, he said, even the perception of a conflict of interest is as bad as an actual conflict.

“It’s not a legal question. It’s an ethical decision,” Dyer said.

“You have made the decision that you will not accept his bid,” Dunham said.

“Yes, as town manager and road commissioner I have that right,” Dyer said. “If the board disagrees, I hope you can tell me.”

Dyer said it’s his job to review the bids as they come in and flag any potential problems for the Select Board.

“There is nothing in this ordinance that disqualifies someone from the Road Committee from bidding,” Dunham said.

“It is,” Dyer said. “It’s right in there.”

Reay also apparently sent an email to the Select Board members, asking them how they would vote, which Select Board Chairman Bruce Bourgoine addressed at Monday’s meeting.

“We did receive an email,” Bourgoine confirmed. “There were three questions on how we would vote. I think that’s very inappropriate practice to answer that sort of email, to commit to some sort of vote. This is the process right here,” he said, indicating the public meeting. “That’s why I responded with we should not do that.”

“I took it a different way,” Dunham said. “He was asking us — legitimately, I thought — for an opinion so he could decide whether to move forward with a bid.”

“That’s pretty close to meeting by email,” Bourgoine said.

Reay, who didn’t return a call immediately for comment Friday, said at Monday’s meeting that he didn’t vote on the final contract.

“I abstained,” he said. “What did I contribute that would make it unfair to anyone else?”

As of Friday, Dunham said he’ll probably work on his letter this weekend, but first he wants to watch the recording of the meeting.

Christine Sammons, the board’s vice chairwoman, confirmed that a resignation letter is required; even community volunteers have to send something in writing when they step down.

“Until he does something, we can’t decide what we’re going to do,” Sammons said.

The Readfield Select Board meets next at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 22 at the Town Office, at 8 Kents Hill Road.

Jessica Lowell — 621-5632

[email protected]

Twitter: @JLowellKJ