SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Town officials are considering the purchase of vehicles for the town manager and the harbormaster to use while on town business.
Town Manager Don Lagrange suggested the arrangement, which was prompted by resident Jim Snow’s claims that the town has been improperly reporting the mileage reimbursements paid for use of personal vehicles. Lagrange and Harbormaster Adam Thurston are the only two employees being reimbursed.
Lagrange told selectmen Tuesday that, in looking into how mileage should be reimbursed, he learned that he and Thurston are not covered against liability while using their vehicles on town business.
“I could lose everything I got because of an accident in town,” he said.
Buying a small vehicle for the town manager and a pickup for the harbormaster would solve both the mileage reimbursement issue and the liability problem, Lagrange said.
Lagrange said he thinks a lease-purchase plan is the best option for getting the two vehicles. He estimated each vehicle to cost about $25,000. Due to the low miles anticipated to be put on the vehicles annually, Lagrange estimated they had a useful life-span of 15 years. Lagrange said he now drives about 270 miles each month on town business.
Selectmen acknowledged the need to make a decision quickly.
“We have to act sooner or later, but I don’t know if it should be tonight,” George Jellison said.
Lagrange assured them that there was money available for the lease.
“We have sufficient funds now to enter into a lease agreement for both vehicles,” he said. “Then we can budget for lease payments.”
Lagrange was asked by selectmen to prepare a proposal with details on vehicles and financing for them to consider at their Jan. 10 meeting.
Selectmen also agreed to look into how Snow’s concerns about how mileage and cell phone reimbursements have been handled. Snow additionally claimed the town did not provide documents he requested under the state’s Freedom of Access Act. Snow said he’d like to discuss his concerns further but was reluctant to do so in open session.
“The things I’ve uncovered I’d like to present to you privately,” Snow said.
Chairman Tom Benson assured Snow that town officials would seek advice on whether an executive session or an open session would be the appropriate manner in which to discuss his concerns.