Ludlow financial situation unresolved

Posted June 18, 2010, at 10:35 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 11:54 a.m.

LUDLOW, Maine — Close to 25 Ludlow residents who attended a selectmen’s meeting Thursday evening, hoping to learn more about the town manager’s suspension and audits of the town’s finances, left the session disappointed and without any new information.

Selectmen Virginia McCain, Greg Dow and Ted Ivey met at the town office and immediately went into executive session to discuss a personnel matter. Dan Nelson, the town’s attorney, joined them, as did Mary Beth Foley. Foley, who had been the town manager in Ludlow for 14 years, was suspended without pay in February by the selectmen.

Ludlow, an Aroostook County town of about 420 people, is seven miles west of Houlton.

Foley’s suspension came about after State Auditor Neria Douglass subpoenaed financial records from Ludlow for fiscal years 2007, 2008 and 2009. The auditor received a complaint and verified that the state had not received several years’ worth of municipal audits from Ludlow.

Selectmen asked Foley for financial records and a copy of the town’s audit. Foley reportedly never gave the board the material it asked for, and she subsequently was suspended without pay.

During the special meeting in February, residents learned the last audit of town finances was done five years ago. Douglass said state law requires that a town conduct an audit each year. The penalty for failure to do an audit is $100.

Along with the audit conducted by the state, the board has authorized a private audit on behalf of the town to look at Ludlow’s finances for the past two years. The town office has been closed since Foley was suspended.

While the group was in executive session, audience members said they were hoping to learn more about the situation. They also wanted to know when the office would open again and when the town will hold its annual meeting. The meeting is usually held around April, but selectmen said they wanted to postpone the session until the state audit is finished.

After selectmen left executive session, they immediately proposed adjourning the meeting. When audience members asked them what happened, they said they couldn’t speak about the matter.

“We can’t comment on personnel matters,” Nelson told the crowd.

An audience member wanted to question the selectmen about other town matters, but they refused.

Douglass confirmed last month that she had found “discrepancies” in the financial records while conducting the audit, but would not give details, saying she did not want to comment publicly until she met with town officials.

Officials in Douglass’ office are looking at past motor vehicle excise tax records, property tax payments and more.

The status of the state audit was not available Friday. Douglass is at a conference out of state, according to her staff.

Foley, who lives in Orient, also is a selectman in that community. The Aroostook County town, located on U.S. Route 1 just north of Danforth, has approximately 244 people. Foley also was the town’s assessing agent, but selectmen opted in March to replace her.

Town Clerk Alicia Silkey said at the time that the decision had “nothing to do” with the situation involving Foley in Ludlow.

Foley has not responded to repeated requests for comment.

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