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Monday, December 23, 2013

Lisbon Taxpayers Are Going To Pay Again, So The Question Is How Much More Will You Take Before You Demand Corrective Action?


I enjoyed your article but I have some real concerns about the manner in which the town is handling this situation.   This reminds me of when I sued the town over information.  A competent Town Attorney and a Town Manager with many years of experience should have known that I was entitled and provided the information instead of taking it to court at a cost of over $10,000 tax dollars in legal fees.

Now the town is faced with a similar situation.  The Enforcement Division of the Bureau of Land and Water Quality forwarded to the town a letter dated February 25, 2013 outlining the violations by the Sewer Department back in 2012 and an appropriate fine of $22,307.00.  There were three violations stated in the letter:

a.        On May 25, 2012 it was discovered that a blockage in the Huston Street cross-country sewer was causing untreated wastewater to overflow from a manhole and discharge to adjacent small brooks that flows to the Androscoggin River.
b.      On November 5, 2012 another spill occurred at the Route 196 pump station of approximately 550,000 gallons of untreated waste water that ended in the Sabattus River.
c.       The town is in violation of Special Condition H of the wastewater treatment permit because the town does not have an O&M plan (operation and maintenance) that includes a systematic approach for proper operation and maintenance of the collection system.

There is no question that the town was at fault in each of these situations.  So why did the Town not admit they were negligent, pay the fine and move on?  The town would rather try and get out of paying the fine instead of paying the fine and move on.  Tell me again about who has values and who does not.  Remember, if the town does not reach an agreement with the state this will end up in court and cost the taxpayers a ton of tax dollars in legal fees.

All of these situations could have been prevented if the town had a competent Town Engineer and a Chief Administrative Officer (Town Manager) to oversee the Town Engineer.  A basic management tool is the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) or the O&M (operation and maintenance) plan.  If Mr. Leighton was qualified as a manager the first thing he should have down is to prepare an O&M plan.  If the O&M plan was in place the sewer personnel would  known to monitor the alarms and when to clean manholes on a schedule.

The town can continue to negotiate with the state.  It is not going to change the fact that the town was negligent and as a result the town has now suffered two (2) spillages.  The fact is the town has incompetent personnel in managerial positions who will not accept responsibility when they are wrong.  It is so much easier to cover it up and keep unqualified personnel in critical positions. 

This Town Council needs to take direct action to prevent further occurrences of this nature.

Larry Fillmore


Gregg said...


Again, if you would have asked a councilor before writing your article, you would know both incidents were reported by the town to the State in accordance with their Standard Operating Procedures. There was never a question of responsibility for incidents and as reported in Mr. Hills article they were both a result of problems with the alarms. The town is still negotiating with the state over the fine since we believe it to be excessive when compared to similar incidents.

Mary-Ann Morgan said...

I hope the Town's lawyer is not involved in these negotiations, or the Town will have a legal bill matching the fine. The buck stops with the Town Manager. There are many other towns looking for managers, hint hint.

Larry Fillmore said...

Gregg - I ask questions all the time and get no answers. I never said it was not reported in accordance with STATE requirements. I understand the reason for the negotiating but it is going on two years and how much has it cost the town in legal fees? Councilors cannot discuss what goes on in Executive Session,so why ask? Mr. Leighton failed to establish an Operation and Maintenance plan which could possibly prevented both incidents. Please tell the people what action was taken to correct this gross negligence or better yet explain to the people what was an "unfavorable expenditure" identified in the town audit and how it happened. I am not talking about a fairy tale by the Town Manager.

Peter said...

Councilor Garrison,

After viewing town meetings on line when they have been made available,
Mr. Fillmore has asked numerous valid questions to which no answers have ever been provided. So why do you feel he should ask a councilor?

Anonymous said...

Time for the town manager to go!