Sabattus condemns county commissioners for restoring their pay

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SABATTUS — Selectmen have sent Androscoggin County commissioners a letter taking them to task for overturning the county Budget Committee’s recommendation to knock back commissioners’ pay.

In a meeting last month, two of the three commissioners voted to restore most of their own pay and benefits that had been cut by the Budget Committee.

In the letter sent Friday, Sabattus selectmen called that move “egregious” and described the decision to keep any health care coverage “highly inappropriate and an entitlement that needs to end.”

Minot selectmen took a similar position at their meeting Monday night.

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Sabattus Town Manager Andrew Gilmore said selectmen voted last week to have him write a letter on their behalf.

He hadn’t received any response from county commissioners by Tuesday.

At issue is whether the commission has the authority to influence its own pay under the new county charter or whether the Budget Committee has the final authority.

A statement by the county commissioners’ attorney said it was within their right.

Sabattus’ letter asks twice that commissioners reverse their decision before the matter winds up in court, but doesn’t say that a lawsuit is imminent.

“We’re really hoping that they voluntarily reverse their course of action and would like to see them do that without pending threats,” Gilmore said. “They certainly have an opportunity to build credibility and move the entire county forward.”

The three commissioners earn a base salary of $7,200, as well as health care and dental coverage for their families. The Budget Committee rolled that back to $3,000 and no health care or dental.

Last month, Commissioners Elaine Makas and Beth Bell voted to restore their base pay to $5,000 with individual health and dental coverage worth about $8,400 per person. Chairman Randall Greenwood abstained from that vote.

Under the county’s new charter, in January the commission is expanding from three to seven people and a professional county administrator will eventually be hired, taking much of the administrative burden off commissioners.

kskelton@sunjournal.com

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