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Tamworth selectmen at odds with town treasurer


December 08, 2011
TAMWORTH — "It is very unfortunate that it has come to this," said Tamworth Selectman Will Farnum, who confirmed in a brief telephone call Tuesday what the selectmen's meeting minutes of Dec. 1 indicated. Following a non-public session for discussion about the town's longtime treasurer Mary Mills, "The Board decided to move ahead with the legal injunction filing against the Town Treasurer to get her to comply with the 2011 Investment Policy as all other trials have failed. Further, the Board agreed to offer the Treasurer an opportunity to resign if she chose not comply and to further uphold the oath of office as a Tamworth's Town Treasurer. The information will be served to the Treasurer accordingly."

Farnum said he could not discuss any of what happened in the non-public session and if more information is needed, this reporter could "feel free to show up at a selectmen's meeting."

On the surface, the selectmen meeting to discuss lack of cooperation by the Town Treasurer seems out of the ordinary. Typically, discussions which involve elected officials are not to be held in private session according to the state's Right-To-Know-Law. Only personnel issues involving employees are afforded the luxury of a closed door.

The town's investment policy is a six-page document adopted in June and is meant to "establish a framework for the safe and prudent investment of public funds." The policy includes such requirements that the treasurer will make no investments in the NH Deposit Investment Pool, will reconcile all accounts on a monthly basis and make a report to the selectmen, and make bank deposits weekly or when money from all town departments totals $1,500 or more."

At their Aug. 11 meeting, "The Board discussed the items that have been requested from the Town Treasurer and have not been received as requested. Mr. Abraham advised he met with Mrs. Mills who indicated to him that she did not receive the new policy until July 8 and that she did not have adequate time to get the report generated and submitted to the Board. It was pointed out that the Board gave Mrs. Mills until August to comply with the creation of the second quarter investment report. Mr. Abraham continued by indicating Mrs. Mills expressed concern with the mail coming to the Town Office and not to her personal address as the mail is opened at the Town Office. A response was given that the Town Office reconciles the accounts; therefore, for that reason the bank statements are opened when they arrive at the Town Office. Finally, Mr. Abraham indicated that Mrs. Mills understood the new policy would not allow for any further investments to be made into the NHPDIP, but the funds that were within that organization could stay. The Board viewed the policy and indicated that according to the policy it states no funds will be kept or invested at the NHPDIP."

Mr. Abraham, referred to the in the excerpt from the meeting minutes above is Selectman Robert Abraham. The minutes go on to say, "The Board decided to send another certified letter to Mrs. Mills requesting that she produce a second quarter investment report, move all town records to the Town Office, remove all funds from NHPDIP and change the address on all of the accounts to the Town Office's mailing address. Mrs. Mills will be asked to complete these tasks on or before Sept. 1 and if she decides they cannot be accomplished or that if she refuses to follow through on the tasks, to notify the Board in writing on or before Aug. 24 that she will not be completing these demands."

In a meeting the following week, it was announced that Mills had not picked up the certified letters at the post office so the selectmen would have them taken to her by a police officer.

There is no indication in meeting minutes since August whether or not Mills has complied with the selectmen's request for information, thus prompting the selectmen's decision Dec. 1 to move forward with an injunction and possibly call for her removal from office.

Garnett Hill
Martin Lord Osman
NORTHERN HUMAN SERVICES
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