CHELSEA – The Maine Municipal Association, state statute and Chelsea’s town attorney have said it is legal for a single selectman to sign warrants.

But Town Manager Angela Gordon didn’t agree. So for several weeks, she refused to pay town employees or pay any bills, including $386,000 owed to Regional School Unit 12, town officials say.

“I don’t get involved in the financial stuff, but I guess (Gordon) questioned the number of selectmen doing business,” Code Enforcement Officer Robert St. Pierre said Friday. “I heard they were having difficulty paying other bills as well. But then, for some reason they were able to make payroll for the employees.”

He said Gordon didn’t pay anyone until recently because she questioned the legality of a special selectmen’s meeting Feb. 23 during which Selectman Michael Pushard, acting unilaterally, voted 1-0 to pay town bills.

Although the one-person vote was questioned by Leonard Sharon — the attorney defending Board of Selectmen Chairman Carole Swan in an investigation into Chelsea’s contracting practices — numerous legal experts said it was proper.

Swan, 52, is accused of accepting kickbacks from a contractor who had been barred from doing business with the town after he allegedly overcharged for material in 1999.

Pushard has been conducting business virtually on his own since Swan’s arrest Feb. 10.

Tanya Condon resigned from the board in November, and Swan was prohibited from conducting town business until last week, when a judge granted her permission.

Town attorney Stephen Langsdorf said Gordon and Town Clerk Flavia Kelley have been taking issue with Pushard as the lone functioning selectman.

“We repeatedly assured them it is proper,” Langsdorf said. “So what happened is, a decision was finally made to pay payroll in March, but (to) wait until the selectmen’s meeting directly following the special town meeting (this Wednesday) to pay the other bills.

“At that time, all the warrants will be signed. They’re going to be paid, including the entire amount owed to the school.”

Residents will cast votes for selectmen in a special election Tuesday, which also was set in motion by a 1-0 vote Feb. 23.

A special town meeting Wednesday will ask townspeople to authorize selectmen to provide up to $50,000 for an investigation into town finances and for legal fees. That meeting also will be the result of a 1-0 endorsement by Pushard acting as the Board of Selectmen.

Langsdorf said the town’s auditor has assured him that the money is there for the school payment and other bills.

Pushard said he doesn’t want to overwhelm the newly elected selectman, but bills must be paid.

Gordon could not be reached for comment Friday.