January 21, 2020

Clinton official adds Etna job

CLINTON — Sharon Perry, the town’s interim administrator, has taken a second job.

Perry, hired in July on a six-month contract to fix problems in the town office, told the Board of Selectmen on Wednesday that she has entered a similar agreement with officials in the Penobscot County town of Etna.

Starting today, she is scheduled to work at least two days a week as Etna’s interim town manager at a minimum salary of $5,320. She will replace David Greeley, who quit in August after just four months as manager.

Clinton’s two selectmen met with Perry behind closed doors for about 20 minutes. Her contract had called for her to work exclusively in Clinton, but selectmen later said they saw no problem with the second job, provided it doesn’t affect her duties.

“I think it would benefit us more than hurt,” said Brant Winsor, chairman of the Board of Selectmen.

Perry, whose contract ends in January 1999, will continue to work Monday through Wednesday in Clinton. She will spend Thursday and Friday in Etna.

She is a former manager and administrator in Otis, Rangeley and Winterport, who holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Maine. She said she hopes to become a management consultant to smaller communities facing problems.

“Having served as a town manager, I know that most town manager [positions] are short-lived as it is,” said Perry of Ellsworth. “If there’s a market for this, why not do it?”

Perry was hired as Clinton’s interim administrator at the beginning of July, two days after a stalemate between the town’s remaining two selectmen forced a two-day shutdown of the town office.

The shutdown followed the resignations of the entire town office staff, the part-time police force, and one of the three selectmen in the Kennebec County town of 3,400. Many of the resignations stemmed from a voter-approved cut of $150,000 from a budget proposal of $1.4 million.

Perry said this week she has found computer and record-keeping problems that have kept her from closing the books on the budget year 1997-98, which ended in June.

Because of the problems, which apparently began last spring, some residents have received bills for taxes already paid. Others have been charged less than they actually owe.

With the help of a new administrative assistant and bookkeeper hired in mid-August, Perry said she hopes to have the problems resolved by Halloween.

“It’s enough to make your head spin, really,” she said this week.

In Etna, Perry is likely to face similar problems considering:

A suspicious fire destroyed some financial records in the locked town office nearly two years ago. No one has been charged in the December 1996 fire.

A state auditor told voters in March that more than $23,000 was unaccounted for. She said financial statements had to be re-created because of an “incomplete ledger, poor management practices and sloppy bookkeeping.”

A dozen residents last spring challenged their property valuations and demanded they be reassessed because of disputes with the former Board of Selectmen. A new five-member board was elected after the auditor revealed some of the town’s financial problems.

As interim manager, Perry must reorganize Etna’s town office, as she has done in Clinton, and oversee the town’s funds, investments and expenses, according to a copy of her proposed contract.

In addition, she must update the town’s tax list and property values on computer and set up a computerized accounting system. Her 28-week contract, expected to be signed today, would end March 13, 1999.

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