NEWBURGH, Maine — Town leaders are ready to make a statement about the investigation into whether town funds are missing, but residents will have to attend today’s reconvened annual town meeting to hear it.
“I will be making a statement before the regular meeting starts,” Selectman Leonard “Bud” Belcher said Friday. The statement will include “as much as our lawyers will let us say.”
Town Manager Nancy Hatch and Deputy Treasurer Cindy Dunton were placed on administrative leave with pay in mid-March after the discovery of possible inaccuracies in the town’s financial records on the day before the March 13 annual town meeting.
The town voted on the first two items on its agenda, the election of selectmen and representatives to the town’s planning board, but postponed the rest of the meeting, which dealt with the budget for the coming year.
The meeting will reconvene at 9 a.m. today at Newburgh Elementary School.
Selectmen hired Robert Brown and CPA Solutions LLC of Bangor to investigate the finances, and they hired longtime clerk Lois Libby to serve as interim town manager. Libby hired Sherri Denis of Hampden as interim deputy town treasurer.
Both Libby and Denis are planning to be at today’s meeting, said Belcher, who is chairman of the board.
The audit is incomplete and “it will probably be another couple of weeks before it’s final,” Belcher said.
The town has to pay its bills, so even though the audit is not done, the annual town meeting cannot wait, Belcher said.
“We need to go forward with the budget,” he said.
Town officials have worked for months to tighten the municipal budget, reducing it by about $30,000 by making small cuts here and there, Belcher said, adding that with the new expense of the audit, the bottom line is expected to increase.
“The audit, with lawyer fees, is going to average from $25,000 to $40,000, so we’re going to have to increase our budget by that amount,” which likely will offset the reductions, he said.