UNION, Maine — A proposal to change the town treasurer position from elected to one appointed by selectmen is causing debate in the community.
Linda McAllister has held the post for 25 years. She was re-elected to another one-year term during municipal elections in June and her term continues through June 2013.
But at their Sept. 4 meeting, selectmen voted 4-1 to hold a municipal referendum on Nov. 6 to have the treasurer position become an appointed job with a one-year term.
Elmer Savage, the chairman of the Union Board of Selectmen, said Thursday there have been several issues that have been ongoing that led selectmen to ask for the change, a change he supports.
He said the audit done by an outside auditor found significant deficiencies. Savage also said that McAllister had failed to appoint a deputy treasurer which left the town in a difficult position in terms of paying bills and getting payroll done.
McAllister has been out for several weeks for medical reasons and Town Manager Jay Feyler said Wednesday that she has informed the town that she will be absent until Oct. 28.
At the Sept. 4 meeting, Feyler said that two public works employees worked overtime but that the extra pay couldn’t be added to their next paychecks because of the absence of the treasurer. Fire Chief Barry Norris told selectmen at their Sept. 4 meeting, according to meeting minutes, that one of his firefighters was owed a day of pay but was not paid.
Selectmen have scheduled an emergency meeting for 9 a.m. Friday to discuss the treasurer issue and the appointment of a deputy treasurer.
McAllister is being paid $37,822 for the current budget year as approved by voters in June. The town also provides a 3 percent retirement match and pays $9,200 for health insurance.
The most recent management letter from an audit was issued in April.
Significant deficiencies known as material weaknesses listed by certified public accountant Ron Smith included:
• Co-mingling general fund accounts with special fund accounts.
• Delays in posting transfer of money from accounts with those transfers often not being done until the auditor arrives.
• Failure to reconcile the general ledger.
“It appears that this was caused by lack of time and attention paid to these reconciliations and disagreements internally amongst management on how to account for town business, including transfers,” the auditor stated.
Selectwoman Sara Moore, who voted against holding a referendum to change the way the treasurer is selected, said it boils down to a personality conflict.
“The people in the town office want this more than the people in the community,” Moore said.
Moore also said she spoke with the auditor and that the matters were simple to rectify, such as by posting in a more timely manner.
Moore is a member of the Union Tea Party but said she is opposed not because of the tea party position but because she believes an elected treasurer is better for the people.
The proposal has been met with opposition by the Union Tea Party.
“There must be a firewall between the expenditures of voters’ monies and the Board’s request for money,” stated Doris Vertz in a letter to the Bangor Daily News. “The treasurer’s position should not be under the control of the town manager or the board of selectmen. It must stand free.”
McAllister could not be reached for comment. There was no answering machine on her home telephone and she did not answer several calls made to her home.