Woodland annual meeting delayed until July amid town issues

6 months ago

WOODLAND, Maine — As new employees sift through alleged mistakes of previous staff, Woodland town officials announced that the annual meeting will likely take place in July.

The town’s annual audit and budget meeting had been delayed more than three months since the departures of former town clerk Emily Brooks and former tax collector/treasurer Christina Kidney in mid-March. The employee shortage left a void in town services as the Select Board attempted to find new employees.

In April, the board hired Perham administrator Sue Skidgell as a temporary clerk but fired her after one day due to an undisclosed personnel matter.

After being hired in May, new town clerk Bridget Coats and tax collector/treasurer Vicki Page alleged that former employees, whom they did not name, had not reconciled town bank statements since January and were not regularly updating and submitting crucial records to state government offices. That includes voter registrations, General Assistance applications and Bureau of Motor Vehicle stickers.

In the last month, Coats and Page have found even more of those documents as they work to balance the town’s financial statements and reinstate services like vehicle registrations, dog licensing and tax payments. Some documents go as far back as 2008, Page said.

“We find things all the time that aren’t filed in the right spot, like BMV stickers and rabies certifications for dogs,” Page said, after a Select Board meeting Tuesday.

Page confirmed that payroll records for Woodland Consolidated School, which the town owns, have not been balanced since mid-March when Brooks and Kidney left.

Former tax collector Janet Schofield and Donna Ekman, the school’s business manager, offered to work at the town office after hours to balance the records. That way, Page and Coats can have more time to take care of town business and the school can ensure that their records are updated, Ekman said.

“The school’s audit is being done in August, so everything needs to be caught up before then,” Ekman said.

Coats was hesitant to endorse the idea, given Schofield’s history with the town.

Select Board member Thomas Drew said last month that Kidney and former employee Janet Schofield had both resigned amid accusations that employees did not follow the proper procedures for filing and submitting state records.

Schofield and Ekman agreed to only work when either or both Page or Coats is present. Drew and Select Board chair Harold Tardy also approved that idea.

“I think we shouldn’t take a chance on anything else getting derailed,” Drew said, referring to the backlog of office files.

Page said the town is not facing legal consequences with the state or federal government over the improperly submitted files.

Drew and Tardy declined to comment on whether the town will pursue legal action against any former employees. Both had previously indicated that legal action by or against the town could be possible after Skidgell’s firing.

The town has not set a date for its annual budget meeting, typically in March, because Woodland’s annual audit is not yet finished. But the meeting will likely occur before the next Select Board meeting July 18, Drew said.

Woodland will hold a special election June 29 to replace Select Board member Timothy Browning, who resigned in March due to health reasons. The town office will be open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for voting that day.

Residents Lisa Milliard, Kathy Ouellette and Ronald Tracy are on the ballot. The elected member will finish Browning’s term, which expires in 2025.