DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — Selectmen were asked Monday to initiate an official investigation into possible corruption and misappropriation of funds involving the board chairman.
Selectwoman Joyce Perry presented the board with a packet of information that not only included the request for an investigation but also provided examples of payments made to Edgerly Plumbing, owned by board Chairman Elwood Edgerly. According to Perry’s paperwork, the town has paid the firm $60,658 since September 2007.
Edgerly denied any impropriety and noted he routinely has donated work and hours to the town.
“On behalf of several concerned citizens who have approached me with concerns over the appearance of inappropriate bidding procedures and payments made to Chairperson Edgerly’s private business without prior public disclosure, I am officially requesting the board of selectmen to initiate an official investigation under the Town of Dover-Foxcroft’s Fraud Policy for possible corruption and misappropriation of funds,” Perry wrote in her request.
She also asked that the investigation include the possibility of violations of the town’s conflict of interest policy and state law.
Selectmen, who wanted time to read the packet of information Perry provided, voted to place the matter on the Nov. 10 meeting agenda.
The town has no procurement policy, so it may or may not elect to solicit bids for projects, according to Town Manager Jack Clukey. He said the town is, however, working to develop a policy that spells out the procedures for procurement and the thresholds for bidding.
The board also had no fraud policy until one was adopted Monday at the recommendation of the town’s auditor.
Having not yet researched the payments to Edgerly that Perry noted, Clukey suggested Tuesday that most were for Edgerly’s work at the former Morton Avenue Elementary School. Residents approved the use of the former school as a town office, and renovations are being made before the move is made in December.
“The work at Morton has been discussed and disclosed for the year it has been going on, and not every single piece of every single job has gone through a formal bidding process, but it has been disclosed and discussed and the board has been in agreement to go through this project this way,” Clukey said.
Aside from the paid work he has done for the town, Edgerly noted Monday night that he also volunteers a great amount of time to the town.
Much of the money paid to him by the town was for parts needed by contractors who were working at the former school, Edgerly said Tuesday. He said that when they needed a part, he would travel to Bangor, purchase the part with his check, and then bill the town for the part. “I did not charge for my time, or the gas,” he said.
All of his bills are itemized, he said, and are approved through a warrant process by selectmen, including Perry, he said.
Clukey said the promotion and development committee, of which Perry is a member, did not want to hire either an architect to design the Morton project or a clerk of the works; rather, it wanted the work done in-house.
Edgerly said he has donated much time and expense for the town over the years.
“I’m doing it to save the town money,” he said. For example, he said he researched everything he could on the Internet for repairs to the Morton building to save funds. He also did the architectural drawings for the State Fire Marshal’s Office and made three trips to Augusta to make revisions to the plan to satisfy that office, all of which was donated work and time.
He also donated about $24,000 of his time, he said, to offer guidance to Charleston Correctional Facility inmates on projects they did at the facility last winter, and he donated a “couple hundred hours” for meetings with electricians, carpenters and boiler technicians involved in the project. He also said he has used his equipment and time for other projects without cost to the town.
“Jack Clukey, in my opinion, is as honest as he can be, and I just don’t feel he would do anything inappropriate and I don’t think I’m attempting to conceal anything from the town,” Edgerly said.