The stormy weather outside matched the mood inside Knox Town Office June 27, as citizens demanded answers from selectmen and the town attorney about recent special town meeting votes some objected to as illegal actions.

Town Attorney Bill Kelly answered a variety of questions from residents about the votes taken May 31 that authorized an additional nearly $400,000 in town spending on roads and bridges and acceptance of a donation of gravel. In addition, selectmen were authorized to enter into a three-year snow-plowing contract.

Basil Wentworth spurred the consultation with Kelly and selectmen when he objected during the special town meeting and later submitted a letter to the board requesting a legal opinion on the town's actions. He asked Kelly to answer each of the questions posed in his letter, beginning with the legality of not putting the snow plow contract out to bid or requiring a bond.

“I'm not aware of any ordinance in this town requiring bidding,” Kelly said.

The attorney suggested residents create a more long-term solution for bidding processes if they disagree with current practices. He said contracts amounting to less than $125,000 typically do not require a bond and it is even rarer for a service contract — such as plowing — to require a bond.

Wentworth disagreed with Kelly's assessment of the gravel donation, which Wentworth described as a gift with conditions. Selectman Galen Larrabee broke in to admit he erred when describing the donation during the special town meeting.

“I spoke at the special town meeting and I flamboyantly pointed out that my brother gave gravel to the next town,” Larrabee said, adding he urged a similar donation to Knox. He said he and his brother spoke of needing a wider road — Shibles Road. “But the true fact of the matter is, my brother didn't do that (attach conditions to use of the gravel). I put my foot in my mouth and chewed on it.”

Kelly continued and said there is more leeway in the state statute when a donation is tied to a previously approved expenditure as a supplement. His interpretation of the gravel donation is that it supplements the roads and bridges budget approved at town meeting in March.

“I don’t see anything illegal about the donation, or unlawful,” the attorney said.

Wentworth countered with the argument that selectmen were deceitful, “and this ain't the first time. You're a damn poor lawyer if you're not pointing out what they're doing is wrong.”

Selectmen are the agents of the town, Kelly said, and suggested residents “get ahead of the curve.”

“How can you get ahead of the curve when you don't know where it's coming from?” Wentworth responded before urging Kelly to have a serious talk with selectmen, though he expected advice would “run off them like water.”

Later in the meeting, selectmen indicated most of the work on Shibles Road is already complete, with just shoulder work remaining. The town has spent about $53,000 on the work to date and Selectman William Ingraham noted of all the roads in Knox, Shibles Road topped the list when it came to needed work.

Town officials indicated there is about $26,000 remaining in the budget for road and bridge work.

The board also was criticized for not creating a five-year plan for road work, as was suggested at the town meeting in March. Larrabee said he agrees a five-year plan is a good idea but said, “This whole thing mushroomed up in two weeks.”