AUBURN — Androscoggin County commissioners met Wednesday — only six days before the county jail’s budget year ends — to figure out how to pay a just-discovered $70,000 shortfall.

“Every bill has been paid, with the exception of one bill that somehow slipped through,” County Treasurer Robert Poulin said. The bill, a $70,519 payment on the jail’s building insurance, arrived in February but was never paid. And it never popped up on monthly budget reports, he said.

It was discovered last week, as Poulin and his office worked on closing out the $5.7 million jail budget.

To fill the gap, commissioners approved a plan to put off hiring a new jail administrator when longtime administrator Capt. John Lebel retires in August. They will also put off filling a vacant corrections officer’s job, they said.

Lt. Jeff Chute, the jail’s assistant administrator, will serve as the acting administrator until the end of the year, when an expanded seven-member commission will be asked to make a permanent appointment.

“It’s all we can do,” Sheriff Guy Desjardins told the commission.


He said no aid will come from the state’s Board of Corrections, which oversees the county jails.

“They’re broke,” he said. “We’ve already asked that question. They don’t have any money.”

And the county will be looking for a bigger bailout in the coming year.

After submitting a mandated flat-funded spending plan for the budget year beginning July 1, the county needs to prepare for a $300,000 to $350,000 shortfall in the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The Board of Corrections knows and is planning to fight for a supplemental budget to cover the shortfall here and in other counties across the state, he said.

“We need to look at other options to save the $300,000 or $350,000,” Commission Chairman Randall Greenwood said.


“Sooner, rather than later,” Commissioner Beth Bell said.

Neither suggested where the money might be found.

“I have no problem with commissioners going up into the jail and we’ll give you a nice tour,” Desjardins said. “If you tell me that we can do with less staff than nine people for 170-odd inmates, I can’t do it. I can’t.”

Androscoggin County could not endure such cuts without layoffs and closure of parts of the jail, Desjardins said. There are no other places to cut that much money, he said.

“I don’t want to sound hopeless here, but the only way you can do it is to get rid of staff,” the sheriff said. “It’s not turning down the lights. It’s not cutting down the menu.”

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.