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Perham Town Office Closed TFN

Selectmen Seeking New Administrator


By:  David Deschesne

Fort Fairfield Journal, April 15, 2015

PERHAM, Maine—The Perham Selectmen voted unanimously to terminate the employment of Connie Theriault as Perham's town clerk on Wednesday, April 1.

   Former selectman, Wade Snyder asked the selectmen if there was a reason for the termination of employment.  “Irregularities,” said Terry Farley, Chairman of the Perham Selectmen.  “We're not at liberty to discuss any more than that.” 

   “It is an ongoing investigation and the Sheriff has been involved,” said selectman, David Heald.  “We can't divulge anything except it's an ongoing investigation and we can't talk about it.”

   “I don't believe we've set aside any type of legal fee fund as a town for the last two years,” Snyder advised the selectmen.  “If you're going to pursue that with a lawyer or anything you may want to have a special town meeting right off to set aside a fund to raise and appropriate some money for that.” 

   Local businessman, Roger Connolly offered to pledge a $1,000 loan of his own money to the town for legal fees to be recouped at a future town meeting vote.  “If it would help out of this bind I'll pledge a thousand dollars for you to hire an attorney to help you through here,” Connolly told the selectmen.  “I ask that you put an article in to have that returned so it keeps you all above board.  If the town people turn it down, I'll swallow the thousand dollars.  If it will help us get through this and get you some legal counsel I'll pledge a thousand dollars to get you started.  My feeling is we've got an emergency situation here and you should be able to take some funds out of the office account and hire an attorney to get it straightened out.”

   Perham selectman Greg Snyder made a motion to accept Connolly's offer of $1,000 for legal fees to be paid back a a later date.”  It was seconded by selectman David Heald and passed unanimously.

   On April 6, the Perham selectmen reconvened their April 1 meeting and voted to hire Currier & Trask, from Presque Isle as the town's attorney to represent them in this matter.

   In the meantime, the Perham town office has been closed and continues to be closed.  Heald has spent a lot of time in the office organizing and trying to straighten the paperwork out, but as a selectman, he is not authorized to accept money on behalf of the town.  This means that Perham inhabitants who need to register their vehicles, ATVs or boats will not be able to do so at their town office until someone has been properly trained. 

Property tax payments also cannot be accepted until a person in the town office has been properly established in that position.

   “Since you've gotten rid of Connie there's a whole bunch of things you need to think about that as selectmen you're probably not going to realize,” Ellie Snyder explained to the selectman.  Snyder had worked in the town office in the past.  “Thirty day notices have to go out for your liens fairly soon.  Liens usually go on in May.  You have to have thirty to forty-five days before that goes on.  So, you kind of have to think about that for a little bit.  You have to think about where you're committing these taxes to a new person there's a whole packet of paperwork that you have to go through to do that.  You need recommitment forms to recommit to somebody and you have to have a true and perfect list attached is what I believe it said.  That would be like the list of everybody who owes taxes.  Those have to be verified.  It's not just something you're going to jump into tomorrow morning.”

   Heald asked if that was something the tax assessor would be familiar with.  “He would have the paperwork but he won't be familiar with who has paid and who hasn't,” explained Snyder.

   On April 6 the Perham selectmen dealt with the issue of the town office by hiring a new interim town clerk until a permanent employee could be found to fill that position.

   “The first thing is to try to get the office back and running to a limited amount,” said Heald.  “We have a person who is willing to step in for a couple days a week to try to help us through this time. She's an experienced person.  I don't beleive we can recomit the taxes to this person yet, that's a process that has to take place.  We may be able to have her do some of the normal duties as far as deposits and make out checks so we can pay our employees and things of that nature.” 

   Heald made a motion to nominate Donna Turner as Interim Town Clerk.  “She's willing to come in two days a week to help us until we get somebody on board that can be trained.  She's very well-versed in Quickbooks and the procedure of a municipal office.” The motion was seconded and approved unanimously by the Perham selectmen.

   On April 7, the Washburn town council agreed to have the Washburn town office staff assist Perham in their vehicle, ATV and boat registrations by doing the paperwork and collecting the money at the Washburn town office until Perham can get their office properly staffed with a trained employee.

   There will be a special town meeting on April 27 at 7pm at the Perham town office to raise and appropriate money for the town's upcoming legal fees.

   To see a Fort Fairfield Journal Television webcast of this event, click here.


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