In response to Peter Letourneau’s letter (Nov. 30), I will clarify the decision that Beth Bell and I made about compensation for county commissioners.
Current annual compensation for a commissioner in this county is $7,273 plus single or family health coverage. To keep costs down in 2015, despite an increase from three commissioners to seven, we voluntarily reduced our own compensation to a $5,000 annual salary and single-only health benefits.
Those changes resulted in a per-commissioner savings of $2,273 to $11,864 (14 to 47 percent), depending on whether the commissioner would have opted for single or family coverage.
This year’s Budget Committee proposed slashing the annual salary to $3,000 and eliminating all benefits — a reduction in compensation of 81 to 88 percent.
The county charter states: “The Budget Committee’s proposed budget shall include proposed salaries and benefits for elected officials,” but “(t)he Board (of Commissioners) has the authority to modify the proposed budget and the authority to adopt the final budget for the County.”
Commissioner Bell and I accepted some of the 2015 Budget Committee’s proposals, but we believed that their suggested cuts to our compensation package were unwarranted and extremely detrimental to us, to our newly-elected colleagues, and to the image of Androscoggin County. (Our compensation would have been less than half the lowest county compensation package in Maine.)
As stated in the charter that voters approved, commissioners could have retained their current salary and benefits; however, Commissioner Bell and I chose to reduce them by 14 to 47 percent.
Elaine Makas, Lewiston
County Commissioner, District 1