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Fort Fairfield appoints interim manager who wants to curb ‘excessive spending’

FORT FAIRFIELD, Maine — Fort Fairfield has a new interim town manager following the resignation of Andrea Powers.

Dan Foster began work as interim town manager on Monday, Sept. 19. Foster served as town manager in Fort Fairfield for 15 years before retiring in 2013.

His first priority is to help the town curb what he and many residents have called “excessive spending” over the last several years.

Since launching the town’s own ambulance service in 2020, officials have tried to persuade skeptical residents that the benefits would overshadow initial start-up costs. But as residents have seen spending for that new department increase and seen their tax bills go up because of a reevaluation, many have demanded that the town be more conservative with its spending.

In June, the five-member town council passed a total budget of $7,739,591, a $676,026 increase over last year’s of $7,063,565. Due to that increase, Foster projects that the mill rate will increase from 19.5 in 2021 to 26.5 this year, a 36 percent increase.

The council is set to vote on that mill rate on Sept. 28.

Foster said that although he has stayed away from town politics since retiring, he is willing to serve as interim manager for as long as it takes for him to help the town regain financial footing.

“This town has been spending an excessive amount of money and we can’t afford to go on like that,” Foster said. “I’ve never seen a mill rate that high before [in Fort Fairfield].”

The town clerk’s office confirmed Friday that the town council approved Foster’s appointment Sept. 7 soon after Powers resigned. Officials did not specify a reason for Powers’ resignation.

Powers became town manager in 2018 but has faced criticism for her alleged lack of transparency regarding town budgets and their potential impact on local taxes. She also spoke out against a new resident budget advisory committee that town councilors narrowly approved earlier this year.

Foster said that he intends to explain the town’s financial state more during the next council meeting Wednesday, Sept. 28. That meeting will occur at 6 p.m. in the council chambers at 18 Community Center Drive.

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