MADISON — Officials with the Anson-Madison Water District have gained access to some district records and data, such as personnel files so that tax forms like W-2s can be issued, after they say a top manager changed the passwords to district accounts and prevented them from accessing the information.

In addition to employment records, the district now is able to also obtain meter-reading data.

Kirsten Hebert, executive director of the Maine Rural Water Association, said Tuesday that as district employees worked to regain control of accounts and software, they’ve discovered a number of problems, including with customer meters that are inoperable.

“The meter is a utility’s cash register,” Hebert said. “The utility cannot garner the revenue it needs (without working meters.)”

District Superintendent Matt Demers recently told district trustees that earlier this year there were more than 120 meters that were not working properly. Repairs have brought that number down to about 70.

Demers replaced Michael Corson, the prior superintendent who was fired in December and who trustees allege in a federal lawsuit changed passwords to impair operations by preventing access to accounts, software and email. Corson altered the passwords while he was on administrative leave prior to trustees firing him, the lawsuit said.


Darrick Banda, an attorney for Corson, did not comment on the trustees’ allegations.

Separately, Corson is charged with two felony theft charges, which he will face in court at an April 4 arraignment in Skowhegan. Authorities say Corson on several occasions illegally sold old district water mains to a scrap metal dealer.

Hebert said Tuesday that many of the meters that weren’t working properly were quickly fixed by reinstalling them or taking other steps. But most of the remaining ones need to be replaced, at a cost of $200 per meter, she said. It is not clear how long the meters have been inoperable.

“Utilities should stay on top of meter replacements, so if they have one of two that are inoperable they can be replaced in more manageable quantities than suddenly trying to replace 70 or so meters,” Hebert said.

Customers with broken meters have been billed the minimum fees, meaning that the district is not capturing all of the revenue it’s due.

Hebert said another problem that arose is that up until last Friday, employees could not open the software used to track and record customers’ billing history. Though they could view a customer’s information, they were unable to automatically collect data from customer locations and instead had to manually enter the information for more than 1,700 customers.


“Now having access to the business-critical systems should really help us, because we’ve been operating in the dark,” Hebert said. “I don’t want to create panic; we’ve just been doing everything manually, which slows our process.”

Trustees earlier contracted with the Maine Rural Water Association to take over district operations after they dismissed about a half-dozen workers in the wake of the criminal charges being announced.

Trustees at a meeting last week also discussed an upcoming project in concert with Dirigo Engineering that’s estimated to come with a $1 million price tag in order to repair a segment of pipe that is “undersized and antiquated,” resulting in water main breaks to an area in Madison that serves about 100 customers.

Hebert said officials will be looking for grant opportunities to fund the project, which would begin no earlier than 2024.

Charges against Corson were first filed in December when the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office announced that he and the district’s former foreman were each charged with felony theft.

Then in February, District Attorney for Kennebec and Somerset counties Maeghan Maloney said that new evidence came to light that prompted her office to decline to prosecute Corson or the second man. But later that month Corson was indicted on a Class B and Class C theft charge. The other man was not indicted.

Corson’s lawyer Banda said about the charges: “At this point, one can only speculate as to what actually influenced them to reverse course once again, but I suspect the decision was politically motivated as a result of the public backlash they received following the news story announcing the decision not to prosecute. It doesn’t, however, change any of the facts which will ultimately come out as the process moves forward. Further, I’m extremely confident that Mr. Corson will be completely vindicated of these charges when we are finished.”

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