M. Roussel: Commissioners deserve a fair shake

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I am writing in response to Minot Selectman Dean Campbell’s comments in a Sun Journal article (Dec. 9) in which he stated: “In what part of the world do you get full benefits for working a couple of hours a week?”

Androscoggin County commissioners, as the county’s chief elected officials, are ultimately responsible for the fiscal operations and policy decisions affecting county government.

They oversee law enforcement and corrections (some convicted individuals serve time up to 364 days in the county jail while others serve time up to nine months in the jail); Registry of Deeds; the county treasurer; Registry of Probate; Probate Court; Emergency Management Agency; and the county and regional Public Safety Answering and Dispatch Services (911). They are responsible for the Lewiston and Auburn district attorney office facilities, staff, equipment and witness fees; they decide municipal tax abatement appeals; and they also provide public safety to rural areas.

The commissioners oversee a staff of 111 employees; negotiate labor contracts; are seated on the Maine County Commissioners Association, the Safety Committee and the Workforce Investment Board. Finally, they are on call 24/7 for emergencies such as leaky roofs, auto accidents involving patrol cars, jail incidents, etc.

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I surely have left out some areas of responsibility, but I think people need to understand — they work many, many long hours.

Regarding health insurance, 11 other counties provide health benefits to their commissioners, and the Maine Legislature receives health insurance, yet the legislators do not work full time.

The commissioners deserve the same coverage.

Mary Roussel, Auburn

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