Former Columbia Falls official explains controversial bank statement

Posted April 30, 2014, at 6:53 p.m.

COLUMBIA FALLS, Maine — A former town official now living in Florida has weighed in about a mystery bank account that prompted an inquiry by the Board of Selectmen.

Muriel Smith offered an explanation on Tuesday about a bank statement that John Tibbetts says he came across while serving as temporary treasurer in 2010.

“It belonged to the Town Hall Committee,” Smith wrote in an email to the Bangor Daily News.

The town had received a $105,000 grant to make repairs or improvements to the Town Hall, she noted. She administered the grant, Smith indicated, and all bills were paid through a warrant.

“The bank statement was for $10,000 because that is what was left for the committee to spend,” wrote Smith.

Tibbetts informed the three selectmen at their March 10 meeting that while he was serving as treasurer in 2010, he received an account statement in the mail from Machias Savings Bank. The statement indicated that the account belonged to the town’s recreation committee and held about $7,000 to $10,000, according to Tibbetts.

He told the board during the March meeting that when he took the statement to Smith at that time to ask her about it she snatched it out of his hand and told him it was none of his business.

After Tibbetts’ remarks, selectmen decided to ask the bank to provide account statements for any active or closed accounts in the name of the town’s recreation committee for the years 2009 to the present. However, the only account bank officials found was a passbook savings account that was closed in 2013. Records provided by town officials for that account for the years 2008-2013 show it never held more than $1,732.

When told about Smith’s email on Wednesday, Tibbetts declined to discuss her remarks.

“I will say that I have no comment,” he said.

Alan Grant, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, also was not interested in discussing the issue when he was told about the information provided by Smith.

“No, not at this time,” said Grant, who confirmed the existence of the Town Hall committee and the grant the town was awarded for the work.

Smith recounted in her email to the BDN that she was the administrative assistant to the Board of Selectmen for 13 years and served on the recreation committee with five other women.

“We never had any great amount of money to work [with] and lots of times each one of us would use our own money if there wasn’t enough,” she wrote.

Without referring to anyone by name, Smith alluded to inquiries by Tibbetts and another resident, Pamela Look, wife of Selectman Jay Look.

“For six years while I was the administrative assistant this same group that is causing all the upset was doing it then,” wrote Smith, 68, who lives in Spring Hill, Florida, and declined to talk to a reporter by phone. “They would go with one complaint after another. Never satisfied with anything.”

Smith tired of it, she said, resigned her job in June 2011, and moved to Florida a few months later.

The subject of the recreation committee bank account arose at a board meeting again this week when Tibbetts questioned a cash withdrawal. Information provided by Machias Savings Bank officials to selectmen called attention to a cash withdrawal by town treasurer Lenora Weaver of $1,112.42. Weaver was present at the meeting but did not offer to explain the withdrawal, and she hung up when called for comment by the BDN the next day.

 

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