ANSON — The amount of excise tax money missing from the Anson Town Office over the past four years has ballooned to more than $430,000, according to a recent letter from an auditor.

A letter sent to the town on July 22 from accountants Purdy Powers & Co. cites a difference of $110,756 between the amount of excise tax collected in 2011 and the amount deposited in the town’s checking account that year.

That is in addition to an earlier report from the auditors that found a total of $327,956 missing from 2012 through September 2014. That means that the total amount missing over the past four years is $438,712, according to Purdy Powers.

“I was surprised it would be that much,” Arnold Luce, chairman of the Board of Selectmen, said Tuesday. “As far as we’ve gone back, it all seems to be about the same – about one-third of the excise tax collected each year (has been missing), according to the auditor.”

The excise tax is an annual tax on the value of a motor vehicle that is paid to the municipality when the vehicle is registered.

Selectmen gave a copy of the auditor’s letter to longtime Tax Collector Claudia Viles but have not discussed it further with her, Luce said. Viles, who is still working at the Town Office, didn’t respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

There was little discussion from board members about the additional missing money at a meeting Tuesday night, though some residents had questions.

“Why was this never picked up on in an audit before?” resident Mark Campbell asked.

“I’ve asked that before and I haven’t gotten a great answer,” Luce said, adding that the amount of money reported in the accounting system had always matched the amount deposited in the bank, according to auditors. However, the amount of money that was collected on transactions wasn’t tallied properly, so the total amount recorded in the system – the amount that should have been deposited – wasn’t accurate.

“They didn’t look at every single little piece of paper,” Luce said.

“I hate to point fingers, but that’s a lot of money,” Campbell said.

With a new accounting system in place that requires tax revenue to be deposited the same day it is received, Luce said he believes the discrepancies should be eliminated from now on, although the town is considering having the auditors re-examine additional years prior to 2011.

Viles, the only person who processes excise tax payments, has been in office for 42 years.

State police seized $58,500 in cash from Viles’ home during an investigation into the missing revenue. The cash was discovered when police executed a search warrant at Viles’ North Anson home on April 16, according to an affidavit by State Police Trooper Christopher Crawford. No charges have been filed in the case and it remains under investigation, Crawford said in an interview Monday.

Viles’ attorney, Walter McKee, told the Morning Sentinel at the time that he could prove the money belonged to her.

The town has no excise tax records for the year 2010, but it would be able to get them from the state for a fee, Town Administrative Assistant Tammy Murray said. She said the year 2010 is missing, and she was unsure what the cost would be to get copies from the state.

It is also something the Office of the Maine Attorney General might do as part of its investigation into the case, she said.

So far the town has recovered $250,000 after filing a loss claim with an insurance company. The town policy is limited to a $250,000 reimbursement, but it’s possible that more money could be recovered if a criminal investigation is completed, Luce and Murray said.

It is costing the town about $7,000 to have each year’s worth of records re-examined.

“I think the statute of limitations is six years, so it may be worth it to keep going back,” Luce said.

The shortfall in excise tax means that town officials have had to raise additional tax dollars to fund the town budget, Luce said Tuesday. He estimated the shortfall has cost taxpayers about $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value each year over the past four years.

“If we had that money to work with, taxes would be lower,” he said.