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Townsend selectman’s complaints unfounded and costly, fellow selectmen find

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TOWNSEND — “I think I’ll note that Miss Smart will not be able to make it,” said Chairwoman Sue Lisio at the start of the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday.

The two remaining selectmen released a report on complaints that Selectman Carolyn Smart made against other town employees. According to a statement read into the record by Selectman Colin McNabb, town counsel received complaints about employees in the Water Department where Smart is a clerk, the animal-control officer and the town administrator.

After numerous executive sessions, one with all of the accused employees, and others with the Board of Water Commissioners and the police chief, who supervises the animal-control officer, the board determined that no further action is required.

McNabb commented on the expense of the process. “Leading up to this, we had to speak to town counsel,” McNabb said after he read the report. “The bill is nearly $6,000 on these unfounded accusations.”

The Water Commissioners offered explanations of the charges referred to them, according to the report McNabb read Tuesday. The selectmen accepted the report.

The report continued, saying that as a result of the complaint against the animal-control officer, some practices were changed. Police Chief Erving Marshall said in his report to the selectmen that there was no cause for any disciplinary action.

Lisio and McNabb conducted the sessions and worked with town counsel without Smart. She recused herself before the first executive session on March 24 and from all future executive sessions.

“The board finds that the facts alleged in the complaints were either inaccurate or involved issues or policies that were revised months before the complaints were submitted,” McNabb read.

“The board concludes that none of the allegations involved actions of the employees that were illegal, unethical or inappropriate,” he read.

Lisio also read a statement.

Because there was no disciplinary action taken and none of the records constitute personnel information, town counsel advised that the records are not exempt from disclosure. The complaint and related documents are public record.

Lisio said the additional materials are available.

Minutes from the executive sessions will be available soon, said Town Administrator Andy Sheehan.

“The board regrets the time and expense this matter has taken and expresses its sincere appreciation for the employees, department heads and officials involved for their complete cooperation in assisting the Board of Selectmen in this regard,” Lisio read from a statement.

Both McNabb and Lisio approved and signed the report declaring the complaints to be finally resolved and a closed matter.

At 4 p.m., two hours before the start of the meeting, Smart sent an email to the town administrator saying she would not be able to attend because of an urgent personal matter.

“I want to ask Colin and Sue to please table the agenda item until the next meeting as I have several questions and haven’t had a chance to talk to you regarding them,” she wrote.

“Are you OK with going forward with this, Mr. McNabb?” Lisio said before the report was given.

He said he was.

Paul Rafuse, superintendent of the Water Department, was named in the complaints and attended the meeting. He declined to comment.

Follow Anne O’Connor on Twitter and Tout @a1oconnor.

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