ANSON — Town officials are investigating what happened to approximately $77,000 that has gone missing from the town’s accounts.

Selectmen say that they are in the early stages of looking into the missing funds, and at the moment there is no evidence of wrongdoing and no criminal investigation.

“There is no suspicion of anything,” said Selectboard Chairman Arnold Luce on Sunday. “We’re still in the middle of working out what’s up.”

The missing money was uncovered in the town’s annual audit performed by Portland-based Purdy Powers and Company. In their report, released March 5, the town’s auditors pointed out a discrepancy between the number of motor vehicle registrations processed at the town office and the amount of excise tax and fees collected by the town.

According to the audit, there was a difference of approximately $77,000 between the expected taxes and fees and the amount deposited into town accounts.

“Town officials are evaluating options for recovery,” the auditors noted. “Any amount that may be recovered cannot be determined at this time.”

According to the report, the town brought in $357,827 in excise taxes in 2014. Motor vehicle owners pay excise tax to the town when they register their vehicle at the town office. In Anson, Tax Collector Claudia Viles handles excise fees, Luce said.

Contacted by phone at her home on Sunday, Viles said that the missing money is “a big mystery,” but declined to answer further questions.

“I have nothing to say at this point,” Viles said, referring additional questions to Luce.

Selectmen received the report late last week and informed residents about the missing money at the annual town meeting on Saturday afternoon.

Town Administrative Assistant Triss Smith did not return phone calls or an email Sunday afternoon.

Board members have been advised by an attorney not to discuss the issue beyond what is described in the report, said Selectboard Vice Chair John Bryant in an interview at his North Anson home Sunday. Neither Bryant or Luce could recall what attorney or law firm was consulted.

“We know what’s in that report, that’s all we know,” Bryant said. Elaborating beyond the basic facts of the situation could lead people to draw the wrong conclusions about what happened, he added.

“People will make assumptions that probably aren’t true,” Bryant said.

At this point, the selectmen have no reason not to trust any town employees, and there is no criminal investigation into the missing money, he added.

Reaction to the news from residents at town meeting was “muted,” Bryant said. His initial reaction to the missing money was one of concern. “We’re all concerned,” he noted, of the board of selectmen.

According to Bryant, the money went missing between the beginning of January and Sept. 1, 2014, when the town began using a new computer system to process transactions. The discrepancies appeared to cease when the new system was installed, he said. The updated system automatically directs transactions into appropriate accounts, whereas employees had to manually enter transactions, Bryant added.

Selectmen have not planned a special meeting to discuss the discrepancies, but Bryant said that the issue will most likely be talked about in closed executive session under laws protecting personnel and legal issues.

Peter McGuire — 861-9239

[email protected]

Twitter: @PeteL_McGuire