Anson-Madison Water District officials overcome lockdown and get bills, employment records

Madison — Officials in the Anson-Madison Water District have obtained some district records and data, such as personnel files, so that tax forms such as W-2s can be issued because they say senior managers changed passwords on district accounts and blocked them from accessing them. information.

In addition to employment records, the district now has access to meter reading data.

Kirsten Herbert, executive director of the Maine Rural Water Association, said Tuesday that as district employees worked to regain control of accounts and software, they found a number of issues, including unusable customer water meters.

“The meter is the utility company’s cash register,” Herbert said. “Utilities can’t get the revenue they need (no working meters.)”

District director Matt Demers recently told district trustees that more than 120 meters were out of work earlier this year. Repairs brought that number down to about 70.

Demers replaces Michael Corson, a former executive who was fired in December and whose trustees in a federal lawsuit accuse him of changing his password to block access to accounts, software and . email to harm operations. Before the trustee fired him, Corson changed his password while on administrative leave, the lawsuit says.

Corson’s attorney, Darrick Banda, did not comment on the trustee’s allegations.

Separately, Corson has been charged with two counts of felony larceny, which he will face at a Skowhegan trial on April 4. Authorities said Corson had repeatedly illegally sold old water pipes to scrap metal dealers.

Herbert said Tuesday that many of the non-functioning meters were quickly repaired by reinstallation or other measures. But most of the rest will need to be replaced, at a cost of $200 per meter, she said. It is unclear how long the meter will be unavailable.

“Utilities should stay ahead of the curve when it comes to replacing meters, so if they have one of two meters that doesn’t work, they can do it in a more manageable amount than suddenly trying to replace 70 or so meters,” Hebert said. replace.”

Customers with broken meters have been charged minimum fees, meaning the district is not getting all the revenue it deserves.

Another problem that came up, Herbert said, was that until last Friday, employees couldn’t turn on the software used to track and record customers’ billing histories. Although they can view customer information, they cannot automatically collect data from customer locations and must manually enter information for more than 1,700 customers.

“Having access to critical business systems now should be helpful because we’ve been operating in the dark,” Hebert said. “I don’t want to create panic; we just do everything manually, which slows down our process.”

The trustees had earlier contracted with the Maine Rural Water Association to take over district operations after laying off about six workers following the announcement of criminal charges.

At a meeting last week, the trustees also discussed an upcoming project with Dirigo Engineering, with an estimated $1 million price tag, to repair an “undersized and outdated” section of pipe that resulted in a The District’s Water Main Break serves approximately 100 customers in Madison.

Officials will look for grant opportunities to fund the project, which will begin no earlier than 2024, Herbert said.

The charges against Corson were first filed in December, when the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office announced that he and a former foreman in the area had each been charged with felony larceny.

Then in February, District Attorney Megan Maloney of Kennebaker and Somerset County said new evidence had surfaced that prompted her office to refuse to charge Corson or the second man. But later that month, Corson was charged with B- and C-class larceny. Another person was not charged.

Corson’s lawyer Banda said of the allegations: “At this point, one can only speculate on what exactly influenced them to change course again, but I suspect the decision was politically motivated, as they were swayed after the news reports. The decision not to prosecute has been announced. However, it does not change anything that will eventually emerge as the process moves forward. Furthermore, I am very confident that when we complete these charges, Mr. Corson will fully demonstrate The allegations are true.”

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