Suspension of County Finance Director Urged

CRANBERRY ISLES — An educator in the field of public administration has urged the Acadia-area League of Towns to continue pressing Hancock County commissioners to investigate the past financial dealings of Phil Roy, the county’s chief financial officer and, possibly, to call for his suspension.

Carolyn Ball, an associate professor of public policy and management at the University of Southern Maine Muskie School of Public Service, told the league board at its meeting here on Tuesday that Mr. Roy “has violated our trust” and should be carefully evaluated.

Ms. Ball, who lives in Southwest Harbor, referred to recent news reports about Mr. Roy’s alleged financial improprieties both before and after he was hired for his present position in 2009.

“There is no reason why references can’t be checked after the fact,” Ms. Ball said. “He may be a nice person. But the incidents in his career have been finance related, so there is a problem with having him in that position.”

This fall, Ms. Ball will teach courses in “public finance and budgeting” and “human resources management for public, non-profit and health organizations.”

In May, the Islander ran a Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting story that Mr. Roy used $15,000 from the federally funded Central/Western Maine Workforce Investment Board, where he was fiscal agent a few years ago, to pay back money he had borrowed without authorization from the Maine Republican Party, which he served as volunteer treasurer. He reportedly used the money to buy a camper for his personal use. He subsequently paid back the money and resigned from both organizations.

Mr. Roy told the Islander that the story contained some inaccuracies, but he declined to say what they were.

Early last year, $750,000 was transferred from the Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport account to the county’s general fund to cover other expenses without the knowledge or approval of the airport manager or county commissioners. County treasurer Janice Eldridge has said Mr. Roy ordered the transfer.

“We know that he has transferred funds without the county commissioners’ approval.” Ms. Ball said Tuesday. “So, right there, even if we don’t go into his past, is a reason to investigate and suspend him.”

Mount Desert town manager Durlin Lunt said the county commissioners should ask the Central/Western Maine Workforce Investment Board and the Maine Republican Party, “Would you enthusiastically embrace this individual coming back and managing the finances of your organization?”

Mr. Lunt said the people of Hancock County, whose tax money pays for county government, should have “reasonable assurance that the people handling our finances are not dealing off the bottom of the deck.”

Mr. Lunt and other members of the League of Towns board have said they don’t think the county commissioners exercise adequate oversight of the county’s finances. Last month, the league’s board voted to ask their towns’ elected officials to consider urging the county commissioners to conduct a study of the organizational structure of county government with an eye toward hiring a county manager. So far, the boards of selectmen in Mount Desert, Southwest Harbor and Cranberry Isles have voted to make that request.

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Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]