PARIS – Oxford County commissioners Tuesday approved a raise for the counties’ team of civil process servers.

Oxford County Sheriff “Skip” Herrick said a new state law allows the county to increase the amount charged for each civil summons served from $1 to $5.

“It’s long overdue, especially with the price of tracking these papers,” he said.

For the past decade, the county has relied on Chief Process Server Ben Conant and four other people to serve summonses to residents in civil cases including divorces and foreclosures. Each year the county serves an average of 3,000 civil summonses, Herrick said.

The servers get $16 per delivery of a service in a case coming from a private lawyer’s office. If the services are made by the state, the servers are paid $8, Herrick said. Around 70 percent of civil summonses come from the private sector, he added.

In addition to those fees, state law allows the county to collect a processing fee to cover the cost of tracking the papers by computer.

Of the $5 charged, the process servers would keep $2, and $3 would go to the county. The annual revenue generated for the county would increase from around $3,000 to $8,000, he said.

Herrick said it might seem like a minor job, but the county’s responsibility in keeping proper track of the status of all civil summonses served is important work, and relied upon by lawyers.

The topic of regionalization of county jail services also came up at Tuesday’s meeting. Herrick said sheriff departments in Oxford, Kennebec, Franklin, Androscoggin and Somerset counties have been meeting to discuss how to handle overcrowding at county jails in the future.

The officials have been working with the Androscoggin Valley Council of Governments and may be asking the counties to share in funding a $125,000 study of the feasibility of building a regional jail to serve the counties.

Commissioner Albert “Jim” Carey Jr. said he had his doubts whether a regional facility would save the county money. “You see what happened with the school district,” he said, referring to SAD 17.

Herrick said he favored exploring the idea. If and when Oxford County needs a new jail, the cost of building it could be twice as much as what the county would bear with a regional facility, he said.

“We’re going to see overcrowding in the jails,” in the future, Herrick said.

Carey said he still thought adding on to the existing jail might prove to be the cheapest option.

In a later telephone interview, Herrick said it makes sense to study the similarities in programs at the counties’ jails, and see where money could be saved in such areas as food and medical services.

Beyond that, “Regionalization is the word today,” Herrick said. “You can still have local control with regionalization, without spending big money.”

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