June 25, 2018
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Veazie Sewer District superintendent resigns, says finances aren’t the reason

By Nick McCrea, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — The Veazie Sewer District’s superintendent of 23 years removed an armload of personal items from his office Monday night, minutes after the board of trustees voted to accept his resignation and terminate his employment.

Gary Brooks handed a letter announcing his resignation to the trustees at the end of an Aug. 8 meeting. The letter gave 30 days notice, but the board of trustees voted to terminate Brooks immediately and give him his last paycheck on Tuesday.

After a 45-minute executive session on Monday, the trustees resumed the meeting and announced that Brooks had submitted his resignation the week before. Three minutes later the meeting adjourned and Brooks went to his office to gather some belongings.

“It’s personal,” Brooks said after the meeting, explaining the reason for his sudden resignation. “It was just time, I’d been here 23 years.”

Brooks wouldn’t say whether he had plans for future employment.

“The facility is running great, I’m proud of it, proud of the people who are working here and it should continue to run great,” Brooks said.

Brooks said the district’s fiscal issues, which were the topic of the Aug. 8 meeting where he handed in his resignation, didn’t prompt to his decision. However, he said he saw a “lack of professionalism” during that meeting, where trustees “grilled” the auditor about financial problems that could have been worked through.

During a review of the district’s annual audit and a look at monthly cash flow projections, Nick Henry of the Ellsworth accounting firm Horton McFarland & Veysey pegged the district’s annual operating costs at about $525,000.

Its revenues, however, amount to roughly $475,000, which results in a $50,000 shortfall, he said during the Aug. 8 meeting.

“We’re approving a budget we can’t hope to meet,” Henry observed during the three-hour session last week. He said that has been the case since he began handling the district’s audit four years ago.

Trustee James Parker and Chairman Rob Tomilson said they were disappointed Brooks chose to resign rather than stay and help lead the district through its financial crisis.

“It was unanticipated,” Tomilson said. “We had hoped he would have stuck it out and helped us solve this crisis, but it was his decision and we wish him well in future endeavors.”

Brooks said he could have helped the trustees accomplish a lot in the three weeks before his resignation became final, but the trustees chose to end his employment immediately.

“Would I have [agreed to help address the financial issues]? That remains to be seen,” Brooks said.

Tomilson said it would be up to the board to decide whether or not it would consult with Brooks in coming weeks as it tries to solve the district’s fiscal troubles.

“I would like to thank the trustees for the opportunities for professional and personal development that you have provided me during the last 23½ years,” Brooks said in his resignation letter. “I have enjoyed working for Veazie Sewer District and appreciate the support provided me during my time there.”

Tomilson said after the meeting that the board had no plans on how to address the empty superintendent position and would take the issue up at its next regular meeting.

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