TREMONT — The town hopes to enter negotiations with the former tenant of a town-owned building for backed up bills, if they can find him.
Lee Hodgdon was a tenant in the building on 20 Rice Road in Bernard known as “the Wharf House.” The pipes froze after the building ran out of oil while Hodgdon was away.
At their meeting on March 19, selectmen agreed to reduce the amount Hodgdon owes due to freeze-up damage by half. But Town Manager Christopher Saunders has not been able to contact Hodgdon since Feb. 5.
On Feb. 1, Hodgdon agreed to end the lease with the town, but several outstanding bills, mostly utility-related, remained due.
Selectmen then authorized Saunders to enter into a payment agreement with Hodgdon at their Feb. 5 meeting.
Saunders drafted an agreement after receiving the final electric bill on Feb. 15, for an amount just under $5,000, which includes a deduction of Hodgdon’s security deposit from the total.
The town manager tried to call Hodgdon and contact him through text message several times in late February without success.
Tremont School Board Chair Heidi Lawson, who was at Monday’s meeting, suggested the town get in touch with Hodgdon through certified mail, because it’s a written record.
Fire Chief Keith Higgins asked whether the town could claim the money owed on insurance.
“If we collect that insurance claim, our rates would go up,” replied Saunders.
“You were renting out a less-than-substandard apartment to this gentleman for a long time,” said Higgins, adding that the amount requested by the town is significant.
Board of Selectmen Chair Kevin Buck said the amount owed isn’t set, “but we need to talk.” He also pointed out that Hodgdon verbally agreed that he’s responsible for the damage.
“I’m not trying to shame him, I just want him to talk to us,” said Saunders.