Androscoggin County seeks end to state mandate on office hours

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AUBURN — All counties in Maine can determine their own hours of operation and establish when their county offices will open and close.

All counties, that is, except Androscoggin County.

Office hours at the Androscoggin County Courthouse are dictated by Maine statute.

County Administrator Larry Post and his department heads would like to change that and regain local control.

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Post sought guidance from the county commissioners during Wednesday’s meeting.

The topic of office hours came up during recent meetings with department heads, Post said. The group was exploring the possibility of aligning the hours that county offices are open with the courts, which are open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The state of Maine requires Androscoggin County to be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The statute says the mandated hours do not apply to the offices of sheriff, Judge of Probate and the district attorney.

The reason why Androscoggin County’s hours are mandated by the state is unclear. The statute appears to be at least 30 years old.

Changing the statute and returning control to the county would require a member of the county legislative delegation to submit a bill, which Post said could be done with relative ease.

After the statute is eliminated, the county would be free to determine its own hours of operation.

Commissioners appeared supportive of the change, but a couple expressed caution.

“I’m concerned about shutting down too early,” Commissioner Alfreda Fournier of Auburn said.

Fournier and Commissioner Isaiah Lary of Wales said it was important that hours are convenient for county residents.

Few people utilize the county offices during the last half-hour of business, Post said. He added that most city and town governments also close their offices by 4 or 4:30 p.m.

Fournier and Lary suggested that perhaps hours could be extended one day a week to accommodate residents’ working schedules.

Commissioners also discussed updating the county’s personnel policy, but a majority tabled taking action on the matter until they could hold a workshop for further discussion at their next meeting May 3.

ssherlock@sunjournal.com

Androscoggin County Building in Auburn. 

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