Livermore Falls stays neutral on Androscoggin County dispute, Livermore to send letter of support

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LIVERMORE FALLS — Selectmen voted 2-1 Tuesday to do nothing in regard to a dispute between Androscoggin County commissioners and the Budget Committee over salary and benefits.

Selectman Ron Chadwick favored supporting the Budget Committee, which cut salaries and benefits that were reinstated by commissioners.

Chairwoman Louise Chabot and Selectman Jim Collins didn’t want to take a position.

Selectmen Laurie Sanborn and Mary Young abstained from the vote.

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Chabot, Collins, Sanborn and Young were in favor of waiting until Attorney General Janet Mills weighs in on the matter.

The Androscoggin County budget panel sent a letter to Mills on Dec. 12 seeking her “opinion, direction and help resolving nonpartisan issues with county charter language, local government procedures, and preservation of checks and balances over executive powers.”

As of Jan. 1, a new charter expands the county commission from three to seven members and adds a paid county administrator to oversee day-to-day operations.

In Livermore, selectpersons authorized town Administrative Assistant Carrie Castonguay on Monday to send a letter backing several other towns in the county in support of the Budget Committee’s reduction in pay and elimination of health care and dental benefits for commissioners.

The three-member commission had proposed cuts that would have reduced pay from $8,292 for the chairman and $7,273 per year for the other commissioners to $5,500 for the chairman and $5,000 for the others. It also would have eliminated family health care subsidies, worth almost $18,000 for each enrolled family. The proposal would have continued health care plans worth an estimated $8,469 per commissioner. However, it would have grandfathered the commissioners at their current compensation until the end of their terms.

On Oct. 29, the Budget Committee eliminated all health benefits and cut the compensation to $2,750 for each of the six commissioners and $3,250 for the chairman. It later raised the proposed pay to $3,000 each for the six commissioners and $3,500 for the chairperson.

On Nov. 25, commissioners voted 2-0-1 to overturn the cut, and pass their own version of a cut, which they had proposed weeks earlier. The commissioners had input from a county attorney before the vote.

Commissioners Beth Bell and Elaine Makas voted in favor of $5,000 in base salary, the same $500 boost for the chairman and individual health care coverage worth about $8,400 per person. Chairman Randall Greenwood abstained.

In early December, Sabattus selectmen sent the commissioners a letter taking them to task for overturning the county budget panel’s recommendation to reduce commissioners’ pay. Minot town officials had previously done the same. Since then, many of the county’s 14 towns have joined in.

dperry@sunjournal.com

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