AUBURN – Though he has managed three Androscoggin County towns, Gregory Gill has been visited only once by a county commissioner.

“And he was after someone’s job,” Gill told commissioners.

The county and its commissioners – even with January’s new commission – need to change their image, said Gill, the town manager of Sabattus.

On Wednesday, he joined several other municipal leaders from across the county who called on the commission to form a charter commission, the first step toward making Androscoggin only the third county in Maine to operate under a charter’s rules and guidelines.

“To me, there has been no representation,” Gill said. “We get correspondence once a year and that’s to pay a bill.”

The move led by Gill, Poland Town Manager Dana Lee and Auburn City Councilor Ron Potvin would create a commission that would make a top-to-bottom examination of how the county is structured. Changes could include more commissioners, an appointed county administrator and additional oversight governing things such as conflicts of interest and the recall of elected officials.

Since they began meeting in November, officials from 12 of the county’s 14 towns have backed creation of a charter, Potvin said. Only Durham and Livermore Falls chose not to pass resolutions of support.

“The cities and the small towns agree,” he said. “When’s the last time that happened?”

In a presentation to the commissioners, Potvin and the others submitted a petition signed by 70 local leaders calling for the charter commission.

The commissioners – Jonathan LaBonte, Elaine Makas and Chairman Randall Greenwood – gave little hint about which way they were leaning.

Makas warned that the election of a commission would have to wait until November 2010 if they didn’t want to hold a special election and pay the added cost.

LaBonte questioned the scope of a charter commission’s search for ideas on restructuring the county. With only two other county charters in Maine – in Knox and Aroostook counties – Maine might have too few models to follow, he said.

However, a charter commission could search as wide as it was directed, Lee said.

The resulting charter could help the small towns in particular with services they could only afford if they paid for them collaboratively, he said.

Such city staff as engineers and planners are often too expensive for the towns, Lee said.

“We can’t play ball there,” he said.


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