AUBURN — A veteran Auburn police officer will become Androscoggin County's third chief deputy in three years.
County commissioners confirmed the move Wednesday, settling on an annual salary of $44,438 for J. Michael Lemay, 58, of Auburn. The last two chiefs left over the job's pay, which ranks among the lowest of Maine's 16 counties.
"It's sort of difficult to find someone willing to do the job who has this type of experience," Androscoggin County Sheriff Guy Desjardins said. "We're lucky."
After almost 29 years as an Auburn police officer, Lemay plans to retire by the end of the month. His ability to collect a pension made the job possible, he said.
"If I didn't have my pension to back me up, I couldn't consider the job," said Lemay, a lieutenant with the Auburn police.
Last December, Michael Ward left the job after only five months. The town of Oxford offered him a pay hike to work there.
And in November, Eric Samson left the chief's job for a second time. Both times, the reason was money. He would have been forced to take a pay cut from his sergeant's pay if had he remained.
Lemay said he was encouraged by commissioners' vow to re-examine the job's classification within the county.
"That will be addressed," commission Chairman Randall Greenwood said after the three-member panel unanimously confirmed Lemay's hiring. "He seemed to have an impeccable resume."
Lemay, who is originally from Old Orchard Beach, spent three years with the Portland Police Department before coming to Auburn in 1981. He currently works as a watch commander and shift supervisor, planning officer assignments within his department.
The longtime officer declined to talk in specifics about his plans for the job until he begins work for the county, scheduled for Jan. 1.
"It's going to be a demanding position," Desjardins said. The experienced police officer could find easier work if that's what he wanted.
"He's not taking the easy way out," Desjardins said.