CHESTERVILLE — Two members of the five-person Chesterville Board of Selectmen resigned Thursday night amid confusion over who had knowledge of payments the town paid to the Internal Revenue Service prior to obtaining voter approval at a special town meeting last week.

“This is a sad night,” Chairman Guy Iverson said at the conclusion of the three-hour meeting.

The sudden resignations come in the wake of the board realizing that the town had already made payments totaling about $2,600 to the IRS prior to asking voters at a Sept. 8 special town meeting to approve appropriate up to $3,500 to make the payments.

The two board members who abruptly resigned Thursday night — Anne Lambert and David Archer — were accused of being aware that the payments had already been made in advance of the special town meeting to authorize the spending.

Craig Stickney, Chesterville’s representative on the Regional School Unit 9 board of directors, served as moderator at the Sept. 8 meeting and said he felt duped by keeping order and peace of a meeting that resulted in the misappropriation of town funds for a payment that had already been resolved.

“Those people that knew sat right there and said nothing,” Stickney said. “I didn’t realize any of this was going on until I came into the meeting at the end when it was disclosed that this bill had already been paid. Now I’m a part of a meeting that just voted for misappropriation of funds, and I don’t like that feeling. It’s illegal, it’s immoral and its just downright unethical.”

It is not clear to the town what the payments are for, though they are outside of what the town typically pays to the IRS in payroll taxes, Iverson said. An investigation has been launched by the town into the nature of the payments, when town employees became aware that money was owed to the IRS, and whether the town has paid the correct amount.

Two payments were made on April 7 and Sept. 1 by the collective board through the signing of warrants. During their meetings, selectmen approve the town payment of bills by hearing the town treasurer read the warrant containing the amount due to an outside entity.

When the warrants containing the IRS payments in question at the respective meetings were read and signed, Iverson said he was under the impression that those payments were the typical quarterly payments made to the IRS for payroll taxes.

Board members Matt Welch and Paul Campbell contend that under the impression that the payments had not been made, Iverson told residents at the Sept. 8 meeting that the payments must be paid in order for interest to stop acquiring. Voters approved appropriating up to $3,500 from the undesignated funds to make the payment.

However, at the selectmen meeting that immediately followed the special town meeting, Lambert told her fellow board members that the town had already made the payments.

Iverson said that anyone who was aware of the payments already having been made should have spoke up at the meeting.

“I did not know what I could release (at the meeting) and what I could not,” Lambert said.

Lambert read her resignation letter at the start of the meeting Thursday night, stating that she felt it was wrong to be accused of withholding information when she was unaware of what she could release about the payments during the town meeting.

Archer, who has been on the board for more than 40 years, wrote his resignation on a piece of paper toward the end of the meeting, after a resident in attendance accused him of withholding information — not just in this instance, but over the span of his time on the board.

Iverson said the whole board made an oversight in this situation by not realizing the payments they authorized were the ones in question.

“We all read those warrants,” Iverson said. “It’s not just one person.”

The resignations, oversights and accusations drew frustration from residents in attendance of the meeting.

Lambert said it had never entered her mind that the meeting was resulting in the misappropriation of town funds.

The money the town used to make the IRS payments were discovered to have come out of the town’s administration budget. Iverson said once the town’s attorney gives the board the go-ahead to release information on the situation, another special town meeting will be held to brief residents and assure them that the $3,500 has remained in the undesignated fund.

Meanwhile, Thursday night’s meeting also seemed to encapsulate an adversarial feeling around the board that resident Kathy Gregory said she felt has been going on for a while.

“It’s obvious to the townspeople that being on the board has become increasingly difficult,” Gregory said. “It doesn’t seem like a place where a person can come, and talk to a selectman and feel good about it.”

Iverson, who has been on the board for four years, said he agreed, adding that “it has been a hostile place.”

The remaining three selectmen said they would begin work Friday on adding an election for two selectmen to the Nov. 8 ballot.