June 22, 2018
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Veazie sewer trustees commission staffing, wage study

By Dawn Gagnon, BDN Staff

VEAZIE, Maine — Veazie Sewer District trustees are awaiting the findings of a study on staffing and wages before they decide how to proceed in the wake of this summer’s resignation of the district’s longtime superintendent.

Gary Brooks, who had served as the district’s superintendent for 23 years, resigned at the end of a meeting on Aug. 8 during which the district’s auditor reported that the utility was running out of money. His resignation letter gave 30 days’ notice, but the board of trustees voted to terminate Brooks immediately and give him his last paycheck at an emergency meeting less than a week later.

Day-to-day operations have been overseen by existing employees since then, board Chairman Rob Tomilson said Friday.

Trustees have deferred making a decision on whether Brooks’ position will be refilled pending the findings of a staffing assessment and salary survey being conducted by the engineering and consulting firm Woodard and Curran, Tomilson said.

Among the questions that trustees want the study to answer are whether the district can operate with fewer employees than it does now and whether the pay level of its employees compares to similarly sized sewer plants, Tomilson said.

He said that the Veazie plant now has the equivalent of 3.5 full-time employees. He also said the district would have saved an estimated $400,000 over eight years had employees received raises that correlated to annual cost-of-living increases.

Tomilson said that trustees expect to receive a report from the consulting firm in time for their next meeting, which is set for Nov. 19.

Brooks said in August that the district’s fiscal issues, which were the topic of the meeting at which he handed in his resignation, didn’t prompt 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, Henry said during the Aug. 8 meeting. He said the district’s operating costs had outpaced its revenues since he began handling the district’s audit four years ago.

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