July 11, 2013

Pittston selectmen to bill previous board for legal fees

By Paul Koenig pkoenig@centralmaine.com
Staff Writer

PITTSTON — The Board of Selectmen voted Wednesday night to send a bill to the previous select board members for the over $8,000 in legal fees they accrued earlier this year.

Selectwoman Vicki Kelley said the board will split the bill among the three former select board members, Tim Marks, Wanda Burns-Macomber and Ted Sparrow Jr., but she doubts they will pay anything.

“I would like to send a bill to them just to let them know that that wasn’t right,” Kelley said at the meeting. “If you know better, do better. People do make mistakes, but that was a big one, and it cost the town a lot of money.”

The board only had permission from the town to spend a third of its $9,000 legal fee budget before the March Town Meeting.

The former board members racked up the fees consulting with lawyers before their March decision to dismiss the longtime town clerk and the subsequent backlash that culminated in a petition effort by residents to recall the three-member board and two town employees.

The original bill was nearly $9,000, but law firm, Bernstein Shur, agreed to lower it by 10 percent. Kelley said the select board has asked to see if the bill can be reduced further.

Kelley made the motion to send the bill, and Selectwoman Jean Ambrose seconded the motion.
Jane Hubert, chairwoman of the board, wasn’t at the meeting.

Personnel Committee member Ted Zagwyn Sr. also handed in his resignation at the meeting Wednesday night.

In his resignation letter, read out loud by Kelley, Zagwyn said he wouldn’t single out any one reason for his decision, but he doesn’t want his name connected to any town business going forward.

The board also held an informational session about the upcoming special town meeting, which is needed to restore funding cut by residents at the Town Meeting in March and for unexpected expenses.

The meeting warrant will ask for about $50,000 in additional spending, the majority of which will need to be raised by taxes.

The select board is proposing using money from the gravel pit and capital improvements account to pay for the outstanding legal bill.

Kelly said any money that is paid toward the bill from the former selectmen will go back in the gravel pit and capital improvements account.

The special town meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m., Thursday, July 18, at the Town Office, but that could get pushed back if the select board members don't find out the tax levy limit in time, according to Hubert.

Paul Koenig — 621-5663

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