ANSON — Residents on Saturday will consider doubling the amount budgeted annually for legal fees as the town continues to work its way through two high-profile cases.

At Town Meeting, the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Advisory Committee are recommending residents approve a $25,962 increase for administration, among the largest line item increases on the meeting warrant.

The meeting is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Carrabec High School. Elections will be held from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The $25,962 increase in administrative costs would mostly go toward legal fees, which the town has budgeted at $30,000 for 2019, compared to $15,000 in 2018, Administrative Assistant Tammy Murray said.

It will be used as the town continues to seek restitution in the case of former Tax Collector Claudia Viles, who was sentenced to five years in prison in 2016 for stealing more than $500,000 in excise taxes from the town and was ordered to pay back $566,257.

The town to date has received $250,000 from its insurance company and recovered $58,500 that was seized from a safe at Viles’ home by police, but it still is waiting to recover the remainder of the stolen money, Murray said.

The increased legal fees also will go toward handling tax abatement requests from Madison Paper Industries, which closed in 2016 in neighboring Madison, and afterward requested abatements of its 2016 and 2017 taxes on property in Anson.

The company has since dropped its requests, though the town still is going through the legal process, Murray said.

The increase in legal fees is part of a proposed overall $1,726,886 budget, which is an increase of about 2.6 percent from the current $1,681,976 budget.

Those numbers include money to be raised from property taxes as well as other sources of funding such as reserves, excise taxes and state assistance.

It’s still too soon to say what the local property tax commitment might be, Murray said. Property taxes are calculated based on local, school and county budgets and typically are committed in August.

Also included in the 2019 budget is $35,000 for gear for the Fire Department and funding to paint the Anson fire station. The money would come from the department’s capital reserve fund.

Finally, town officials are seeking to raise $20,000 to establish a sewer department capital reserve fund.

Murray said there weren’t any major repairs that needed funding in 2018, but the town is trying to be proactive about establishing a sewer reserve so a special town meeting would not be needed if something does break or need replacing.

There are no contested elections. On the Board of Selectmen, current board chairman, Arnold Luce, is running for re-election; and a second seat is being sought by Angela Hawkins. The terms of office are three years.

Troy Dunphy and Ellen McQuiston are seeking three-year terms on the School Administrative District 74 board of directors.

Heather Taylor is seeking a three-year term on the Anson-Madison Sanitary District board of trustees, and Gary Anderson is seeking a three year term on the Anson & Madison Water District board of trustees.

 

Rachel Ohm — 612-2368

[email protected] 

Twitter: @rachel_ohm

 

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