AYER -- Finance Committee Chairman Scott Houde vented to his committee at its Sept. 12 meeting, voicing his displeasure with Selectmen Chairman Jim Fay. The flap stems out of the Sept. 5 joint meeting to discuss the Ayer-Shirley High School project.

Houde said it was "very disrespectful to the members of our committee" when Fay effectively appointed himself as the chairman of the joint meeting, then allegedly called on selectmen first and had Finance Committee members wait to be heard.

"I have no problem if the Board of Selectmen chair wants to take the lead, but favoritism should not be shown to his own board," said Houde.

Fay also sought a motion to adjourn the meeting, which quickly passed and caused the audience to get up to leave. Actually, the Finance Committee was still in session, said Houde, but he threw in the towel and left the room. After the meeting, Houde and Fay huddled in the hallway and Houde voiced his concerns directly to Fay.

"I vowed before -- this happened before -- that it would not happen again," said Houde. "I apologize on our behalf. I'll work very diligently to be treated as equals."

"You were clearly slightly upset," said Pattenden to Houde.

Muldoon said there were so many people seated at the table that night that he ended up sitting in the audience. The boards were crammed around the table, Muldoon said.

"It just didn't look comfortable," said Muldoon. "I just thought it was unprofessional."

Muldoon said he had his hand up to pose a question, but was not recognized to speak from his audience seat.

Asked for comment, Fay said, "Scott and I had a conversation to resolve his displeasure with how the meeting ended. We agreed at the next joint session we would agree ahead of time as to conduct of future joint meetings."

"My mindset was that I would conduct the Ayer BOS portion and then defer to Fincom for their portion. My thought process was have Scott run his portion of the meeting," said Fay. "When I called for adjournment it was relative in my mind only to the BOS as I did not have authority over the Fincom. We convened our meetings separately and adjourned our meetings separately."

"There was never any intended disrespect on my part to any of the members and we have agreed to insure this will not be perceived in the future," said Fay. "The short story is that this issue is now a nonissue given Scott and I came to an understanding."