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December 15, 2011
TAMWORTH —Tamworth Treasurer Mary Mills has fired back at selectmen, through their attorney, following the board's decision to file an injunction against her and attempt to force her from office.

As reported last week, Tamworth selectmen held a non-public session Dec. 1 to discuss Mills, an elected official. Following that non-public session, the minutes reflect the board decided to "move ahead with the legal injunction against the town treasurer to get her to comply with the 2011 Investment Policy as all other trials have failed. Further, the Board agrees to offer the treasurer an opportunity to resign if she chooses not to comply and to further uphold the oath of office as Tamworth's town treasurer."

In an e-mail to this reporter, Mills said, "Isn't it remarkable that the Tamworth Board of Selectmen has been holding illegal meetings while attempting to contrive charges against another elected official?"

She also attached a copy of the letter she wrote to the town's attorney. It reads, "Concerning your letters of November 7 and December 2, I do not choose to delegate these duties and responsibilities required of the Treasurer by statute. As you are aware, in RSA 41:29, the Treasurer is charged with 'having custody of all moneys belonging to the town…' RSA 669:7 also requires that 'No person shall at the same time hold any two of the following offices: town treasurer, selectman…'

"I believe the Legislature never intended the Investment Policy to be an instrument whereby the Board of Selectmen could usurp another duly elected town officer's duties. In fact, this attempt to obtain control of town moneys, if allowed, would be a serious breach in the wall of separation which provides the necessary checks and balances for protection of those funds.

"A careful reading of the Selectmen's Investment Policy reveals a number of issues which I believe are inappropriate, contradictory, unclear, and not in the best interests of the Town of Tamworth. I believe it is unfortunate that the town office operations are not conducted in a spirit of cooperation with a focus on what is in the best interests of the Town of Tamworth. There does appear to be a lack of civility permeating the atmosphere there.

"I urge the Board of Selectmen to consider the advice of town auditor Paul Mercier, as reported in their minutes of March 24, 2011, and invite the Local Government Center to come into the town, review policies, and make recommendations. I also urge the Selectmen to comply fully with their own statutes."

The March 24 minutes Mills refers to is the record of a meeting between the selectmen and the town's auditor, Paul Mercier, during which Mercier said, according to the minutes, that he was pleased overall with the working relationship between him and the town employees and that no reportable audit findings were found. He further suggested that the board use the services of NH Local Government Center for policy and procedure review and revision.

Typically, matters involving elected officials are not to be discussed in non-public session, as elected officials do not have the same rights to privacy that are afforded to town employees.

Contacted last week for further comment about the rift between selectmen and the treasurer, Selectmen Chairman Will Farnum said he could not comment further since the Mills matter was handled in non-public session.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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