WESLEY, Maine — Local officials and police are trying to find out what happened to $44,000 that has gone missing from municipal coffers, according to a local selectman.
Ronald Hawkins, one of three selectmen in Wesley, said Wednesday that the Washington County Sheriff’s Office is investigating. He declined to provide details, referring questions to police, but said that the funds are believed to be missing from property and excise tax accounts.
“It’s a small town,” he said. “There’s just one checkbook” used to conduct town business.
Wesley has roughly 110 residents, he said. The missing money represents about $400 for every resident of the remote Washington County town, which is about 30 miles west of Calais on Route 9.
Attempts Tuesday and Wednesday to contact Lt. Travis Willey of the Washington County Sheriff’s Department, who is investigating the case, were unsuccessful. A message left Wednesday at the Ellsworth office of the town’s auditor, James W. Wadman, also was not returned.
Hawkins said town officials have been aware of the issue for about 18 months but were not sure how much money was missing until recently. He said Wadman, a certified public accountant, recently was hired to audit the town’s books.
On Monday, June 3, at Wesley’s annual town meeting, voters approved a measure to ratify that $44,000 is missing to account for the missing funds in the town’s annual audit, he added.
Hawkins said local voters also decided to continue with the investigation to try and find out where the money went.
“It’s not like it’s a forgotten issue,” Hawkins said. “We’re just trying to figure out what’s going on. It’s frustrating.”