June 16, 2019

Gouldsboro lists surplus purchases> Coalition wants added information

GOULDSBORO — Town officials have released a list of items that they purchased for the town at state surplus property sales, but members of the Gouldsboro Taxpayers Coalition say more information is needed.

On the list, Town Manager Sally Crowley has accounted for everything from a popcorn maker and small tools to clothes and office equipment. According to the report, for about $1,800, the town was able to purchase equipment that would have cost nearly $18,000 new. The town manager invited anyone who wanted to visit the town office and see the items.

Still unaccounted for are several snowmobiles, a bulldozer, grader, snowplow and blade, truck cap, chipper, torch outfit and a hoist, among other things that state records show were purchased in the town’s name.

Members of the Taxpayers Coalition believe that town officials should provide them with an explanation of where those items are. If some of the items were purchased for personal use, there is a question about whether the purchasers paid sales taxes. That matter is being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office.

It was the Gouldsboro Taxpayer’s Coalition that drew attention to the issue, and the group has continued to press town officials for more information.

Dorothy Osborne, chairman of the GTC, said she was not satisfied with Crowley’s list. “I think it (the list) should have invoice numbers, distribution document numbers and check numbers, so you can find things,” Osborne said.

The state documents revealed that most of the invoices were signed by Gouldsboro Constable Warren Ahrens. Town Manager Sally Crowley signed two invoices, and the name of a former town employee was on another.

Crowley admitted earlier that an employee mistakenly had purchased property for himself, but she said the matter had been rectified. She did not offer more details because the issue was a personnel matter.

In one transaction, Ahrens purchased a 1984 Chevrolet pickup truck for the Police Department, because he thought a four-wheel-drive vehicle was needed in the winter time. Ahrens paid for the vehicle, but when it could not be insured unless the town owned it, he sold it to the town, she said. Town officials also purchased a $400 dump truck for the town’s demolition-debris dump site. The town later decided not to use the truck, and the state reimbursed the town $400.

Crowley said the taxpayers coalition also had questioned where the town’s 1989 $400,000 surplus had gone. She said that since 1989, the town had tapped that surplus to offset the amount needed to be raised by property taxes.

Osborne insisted that her property taxes had not declined, and she continued to question the selectmen’s fiscal responsibility.

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