VEAZIE, Maine — Maybe there’s something in the water.
An emergency meeting of the Veazie Sewer District board of trustees called to address a personnel shortage in the wake of two staff resignations resulted in the abrupt resignation of one of the three trustees Thursday night.
“Right now, I don’t dare say much,” said Gary Brown, who told fellow trustees Rob Tomilson and James Parker he was quitting about 20 minutes into the meeting, which immediately went into the first of two executive sessions at 6:30 p.m. at the district’s garage on Hobson Avenue.
“I’m just fed up with it, being kept in the dark, with those two making decisions on their own,” Brown added. “It’s just gone too far. I’ve been a trustee for almost nine years, and I’ve been frustrated now for the last two or three years.”
Brown was asked if his resignation was a knee-jerk reaction.
“Yes, but it has been on my mind,” he said. “I was planning to stay one more meeting at least, but tonight was just too much.”
Parker said he doesn’t know if Brown means to follow through with a resignation.
“He said he quit, but I don’t know if he’s resigned or not,” said Parker. “I hope he stays on the board, but that’s his decision.”
Brown wouldn’t get into specifics over what prompted his resignation during the executive session, but admitted that it stemmed from disagreement over inadequate funding for the district.
“A lot of it has to do with that. It’s been underfunded for four or five years,” said Brown, a retired Verizon plant technician. “A couple years ago, we tried for a rate increase, and Mr. Parker was at the head of complaints against a rate raise, so we took a reduced rate and we’re in trouble.”
Parker and Tomilson returned from executive session at 7:41 p.m. Parker made a motion to authorize entering into agreement with Woodard and Curran, an engineering and consulting firm, to run the plant for no more than 90 days while they find a permanent superintendent and bookkeeper/office manager. Tomilson seconded the motion and both voted yes for approval while Brown sat among a dozen residents who attended the meeting.
“Two members out of three is a quorum and that’s how they’ve been doing it right along anyway,” Brown commented.
Parker then motioned to go into executive session again to discuss pending litigation, Tomilson seconded, both voted yes, and they adjourned at 7:43 p.m. They returned at 8:19 p.m. Parker motioned to adjourn the meeting, Parker seconded, they both voted yes, and the meeting was over.
Travis Day, who became interim superintendent after Gary Brooks resigned last August after 23 years on the job for personal reasons and what he called a “lack of professionalism,” is resigning to take a similar position in Orono. Office manager Tammy Olson, who resigned Wednesday after nine years on the job, preferred not to divulge her reasons, but did make a statement.
“I would like to say I’ve always enjoyed my job and I have immense respect for Gary Brooks, Travis Day, Gary Brown, Esther Bushway and some other former trustees,” she said. “They built and oversaw a great facility.”
Parker said the plant can run efficiently with a staff of 1½ employees plus a half-time bookkeeper.
“Tonight we had an emergency meeting because we have no operator and our bookkeeper has resigned,” Parker said. “Our only remaining employee is out on medical leave until February, so we had to solve two issues: Get someone to run the place short term and someone to do the books.”
As far as the ongoing issue of the district’s operating costs outpacing its revenues for the last four years, that was left for a Nov. 19 regular meeting.
“We’re going to have recommendations coming to us from our accountant,” said Parker. “Once we see those, we’ll determine what we’re going to do with what should be public hearings with public notices put out before we do anything to our rate structure.”