Newburgh selectman resigns, citing conflicts

Posted Nov. 16, 2011, at 7:43 p.m.

NEWBURGH, Maine — Selectmen Mike Burns has resigned, citing conflict and frustration with his fellow selectmen. His resignation will become official at Thursday night’s selectmen’s meeting.

“I was giving too much time [on town business] and they would go against everything I was saying,” said Burns. “It’s easier if I’m not associated with them [anymore].”

Town Manager Warren Hatch was not in the town office on Wednesday and was unavailable for comment.

Burns was elected in March. Steven Burgess and Craig Toothaker were elected in April in a special election held because the two previous selectmen resigned the previous month.

Most of the fighting centered on fixing town roads, said Burns.

“Almost right from the beginning things started to be more of a control issue with the other two selectmen,” said Burns. “I wanted to put calcium on the dirt roads. They didn’t want to do it. I was getting tons of complaints because of the dust. [The other selectmen] didn’t care.

“When you sit back and look at it, you see those problems,” said Burns.

“That’s the whole idea of a board,” said Toothaker. “You don’t always get your own way. The board makes a board decision.”

Toothaker had little comment because it was the first he had heard of the resignation. He said he would wait until he got the official word from the town manager.

Burgess, chairman of the selectmen, could not be reached for comment.

Burns said he had three goals when he was elected to the board.

“Stop people from stealing, which we did. Replace all the people that were there during the controversy. We did that,” he said. “The roads have been the one that really upsets me.”

Cindy Dunton, former deputy clerk and treasurer in Newburgh, was sentenced in July to five years in prison with all but 20 months suspended for embezzling nearly $200,000 from the town since 2006.

Burns said there’s plenty of money in the summer road budget but little was spent.

“I live on a dirt road, one with a hill,” said Burns. “The [school] bus couldn’t get up here twice [last spring] because it was so muddy. It’s a two-mile dirt road that the bus has to go up through. There are probably 10 kids on that road.”

He said the road needed to be ripped up and paved. Wellmans Paving offered to do the work, he said.

“I asked the [ other selectmen] to fix it and they said no,” Burns said.

Burns said his frustration from meetings was having an effect at home.

“I just hope people understand that I can only help so much before it starts to take away from my family,” he said. “And not just when I’m at the town office, but when I come back home, I’m all [upset]. All that negative energy. I’m happy to step out. I’m happy now to just pay my taxes.”

Burns said he picked now to resign so his position would be filled on the March ballot instead of costing the town money with a special election.

“I waited as long as I did because next month is when the next nomination papers go out,” said Burns. “They can fill [my position] with the next election. If I had quit a month or two ago, it would have cost the town more money for another election.”

He said a special election would have cost Newburgh taxpayers between $500 and $1,000.

What will Burns do now?

“My son’s graduating from boot camp next week,” he said. “I get to concentrate on that and not town business. It’ll be good.”

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