Police-coverage proposal presented to selectmen

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SABATTUS – Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Department Capt. Raymond Lafrance said he doesn’t believe residents will vote Saturday to have his agency take over police services starting July 2.

That’s because they already have a good police department and they can save money by staying with it, he said.

“This service works great for towns like Poland that, before us, did not have an existing police department in place,” he said. “We are not soliciting, we were asked to do this. Sabattus has a working police department.”

The warrant asks voters to enter into a one-year contract with the Sheriff’s Department from July 2, 2006, to June 30, 2007. The selectmen and Budget Committee recommend voters not pass the article.

Last year, residents voted to have the Sheriff’s Department present a proposal for services similar to what the town has through its Police Department.

On Tuesday, Lafrance presented the package to selectmen and a handful of residents at a workshop.

The county’s offer is $512,068.84. Police Chief Thomas Fales’ budget for 2006-2007 is $424,517.

The county proposal pays for seven full-time deputies and one detective sergeant. The proposal doesn’t include fuel, cruiser or capital expenditures.

The Sabattus Police Department has six full-time patrol officers and one chief. One of the six officers also does detective work when needed. Its budget does not include benefits or fuel.

The net difference between the two: The county proposal would cost about $32,000 more.

“If you compare apples to apples there’s not much difference,” Lafrance said. “It all comes down to what you are comfortable with for services. If you want to save money you have to cut requirements.

“But with our budget you get one more person working on staff,” Lafrance said. “It is really hard to compare apples to apples when there are so many variables to figure in.”

Lafrance said a member of the Sheriff’s Department would be at the annual town meeting Saturday to answer questions. The meeting starts at 9 a.m. at Sabattus Central School.

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