Home Somerset business Anson-Madison water district officials overcome lockdown and gain access to billing and employment records

Anson-Madison water district officials overcome lockdown and gain access to billing and employment records

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MADISON — Anson-Madison Water District officials were granted access to certain district records and data, such as personnel records, so that tax forms such as W-2s could be issued, after stating that a senior manager had changed passwords to district accounts and blocked them from accessing information.

In addition to employment records, the district is now able to obtain meter reading data as well.

Kirsten Hebert, executive director of the Maine Rural Water Association, said Tuesday that as district employees worked to regain control of accounts and software, they discovered a number of issues, including customer counters unusable.

“The meter is the cash register of a utility,” Hebert said. “The utility cannot generate the revenue it needs (without working meters).”

District Superintendent Matt Demers recently told district trustees that earlier this year more than 120 meters were malfunctioning. Repairs brought that number down to about 70.

Demers replaced Michael Corson, the former superintendent who was fired in December and who administrators say in a federal lawsuit changed passwords to harm operations by preventing access to accounts, software and emails. Corson changed passwords while on administrative leave before administrators fired him, according to the lawsuit.

Darrick Banda, a lawyer for Corson, did not comment on the administrators’ allegations.

Separately, Corson is charged with two felony theft charges, which he will face in court at an April 4 arraignment in Skowhegan. Authorities say Corson repeatedly illegally sold old water pipes in the district to a junkyard.

Hebert said Tuesday that many counters that malfunctioned were quickly fixed by reinstalling them or taking other action. But most of those that remain need to be replaced, at a cost of $200 a yard, she said. It is not known how long the meters have been inoperative.

“Utilities should stay on top of meter replacements, so if they have one in two that’s unserviceable, they can be replaced in more manageable amounts than suddenly trying to replace about 70 meters,” Hebert said.

Customers with broken meters were charged the minimum fee, which means the district is not capturing all of the revenue it is owed.

Hebert said another issue that arose was that until last Friday, employees couldn’t open the software used to track and record customer billing history. Although they could view one customer’s information, they were unable to automatically collect data from customer locations and instead had to manually enter information for over 1,700 customers.

“Having access to business-critical systems now should really help us because we’ve been operating in the dark,” Hebert said. “I don’t want to cause panic; we just did everything manually, which slows down our process.

The administrators had previously contracted with the Maine Rural Water Association to take over operations in the district after laying off about half a dozen workers following the announcement of the criminal charges.

At a meeting last week, administrators also discussed an upcoming project with Dirigo Engineering, estimated to be priced at $1 million, to repair an “undersized and obsolete pipe segment.” “, leading to water main breaks in an area. in Madison which serves approximately 100 customers.

Hebert said officials would seek grant opportunities to fund the project, which would begin no earlier than 2024.

The charges against Corson were first filed in December, when the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office announced that he and the former district foreman were each charged with theft.

Then in February, Kennebec and Somerset Counties District Attorney Maeghan Maloney said new evidence had come to light that prompted his office to decline to prosecute Corson or the second man. But later that month, Corson was charged with a class B and class C robbery charge. The other man was not charged.

Corson’s lawyer, Banda, said of the charges: ‘At this point it can only be speculated what actually prompted them to reverse course yet again, but I suspect the decision was politically motivated. due to the public backlash they received following the news announcing the decision not to prosecute. However, this does not change the facts that will eventually emerge as the process progresses. Additionally, I am extremely confident that Mr. Corson will be completely cleared of these charges when we are done.

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