The Oxford County deputies’ union walked out of bargaining with the commissioners two years ago, and did not return for 15 months. After seven more months, the union walked out again and we are now here.

County Commissioners value the deputies’ service and have made fair, even generous proposals to settle the contract, including a 5.5 percent pay raise, $2,250 bonus, and continued payment of the cost of health insurance coverage (100 percent employee, 89 percent family) despite those costs increasing 49 percent in five years.

Seventeen of 19 Oxford deputies currently average $18.25/hour. Including all, the average is $17.95. Mean, annual earnings for full-time deputies employed since January, 2012, has been $57,513.

In fairness to county taxpayers — households, businesses and landowners — we just can’t do any better.

A false impression is being given about revenues the county enjoys from the casino. That money, at $460,000/year, holds the county tax down nearly 10 percent and already helps to pay the deputies. In a larger picture, Oxford County’s tax base has shrunk 3 percent in the past five years with 24 of 36 towns losing value. Stated differently, the county’s ability to pay has diminished.

Comparisons to other counties are misleading without careful analysis. Nevertheless an Oxford deputy’s pay-benefit package typically exceeds that which counterparts in Franklin and Androscoggin receive.

We do not want to negotiate in the media. However it is extremely important for the larger public to know that our offer is fair, reasonable and that we intend to stand behind it.

Oxford County Board of Commissioners,

Caldwell Jackson, Oxford

Steven Merrill, Norway

David Duguay, Byron

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