The Windham Town Council voted 4-3 Tuesday night against forming a continuous improvement committee that would have evaluated and double-checked spending decisions made by town officials.

“Everyone wants to improve spending,” said Council Chairman John MacKinnon, who voted against forming the committee.”It’s just a question about how you go about it.”

Councilor Kaile Warren, who first suggested forming the continuous improvement committee in June, was steadfast, saying there are problems with the way the town is organized that cause the heads of different departments to waste money.

“The reality is, we need to work on it,” said Warren. The other two dissenting votes came from Donna Chapman and Blaine Davis.

“It’s system, structure and process,” not the capabilities of the town officials, said Davis of the supposed problem.

“I do not feel this is the proper way to do this,” said Councilor Carol Waig. She said the committee would have micromanaged the way department heads do their jobs.

“People micromanage, not processes,” responded Warren.

Councilor Bob Muir said the council needs to be very careful it doesn’t try to delve into decision making processes it doesn’t understand, such as the police department.

“I don’t want to cross that line,” he said. He said town officials are all capable of doing their jobs without the intended committee.

Warren said that since he was elected in June, he has received erroneous information from town manager and the heads of the public works and fire departments.

“If this council cannot get good information, than we cannot make good decisions,” said Warren in an interview before the meeting.

At the Aug. 7 meeting during a discussion on catch basins, which are grated street debris traps that need to be cleaned once a year or so, Warren revealed that the town was being charged for catch basins the yearly cleaner was skipping because they hadn’t accumulated enough debris.

Warren said that although this was allowed in the contract because of the labor involved in discovering which needed to be cleaned, he wanted Public Works Director Doug Fortier to find out which catch basins could be skipped.

Fortier and Plante misread a Maine mandated program GASB-34, saying that all catch basins need to be checked for damage once each year, and they need to be cleaned in order to check them. The actual requirement is every three years.

Warren also said at the Aug. 14 meeting Fire Chief Charlie Hammond suggested purchasing a fire truck with Gorham, but was unaware that the vehicle needed $2,000 worth of repairs and an inspection sticker.

Warren said mistakes like these highlight the human errors that can waste the town’s money.

“(The oversight committee) would have put people in a better position to be successful,” said Warren. “Without this being fixed, this town will always flounder.”

He said he has found $68,000 that the town needlessly spent since he took office. Warren said he plans to keep track of all overspending due to systematic problems in the next 12 months and report his findings to the council.


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