AUBURN — Attempting to set the record straight, the Androscoggin County commissioners Wednesday approved the text of a letter that will be sent to each of the cities and towns in the county.

The four-page letter is in response to official letters sent by 13 of the 14 municipalities in Androscoggin County expressing concern over the commissioners’ salaries and compensation.

The commissioners felt they must correct what they called misinformation that has distracted the board for the past three months.

“Yes, it’s been a distraction,” County Commission Chairwoman Beth Bell said. “It’s been time-consuming. It’s a very huge misconception to the public about how much time we really do put in.”

With the commissioners feeling that many of the letters from the municipalities contained incorrect information and rumors on the issues of salary and compensation, they issued a response by making 11 points in the four-page letter.

“I called one town administrator, one of the early letters that went out,” Bell said. “That administrator didn’t really know the details, but yet had sort of joined in. That was pretty frustrating that a town manager really didn’t even have all the information or call to get some answers before jumping on the bandwagon.”


Among the points, their $5,000 salary is the lowest in Maine’s 16 counties, with the next-lowest salary $7,000 in Somerset County. They also said they do not receive lifetime insurance coverage, and that their coverage is not compensated at 100 percent.

Commissioners also corrected the timeline on when their budget was proposed and when the Budget Committee made its decision. They also stressed that the Budget Committee’s decision was not unanimous, as some of the municipalities’ letters said.

Adding in the totals of salaries and compensation, the commissioners said the 2015 budget for the seven commissioners “approximates the total compensation for the three-person (2014) commission, a goal that had been suggested by the Budget Committee in their discussion of the 2014 budget.”

“The overall cost is less than the cost last year,” Commissioner Ron Chicoine said. “We are getting seven for the price of three.”

In late October, commissioners proposed lowering their 2015 salaries from $8,292 for the chair and $7,200 for each commissioner to $5,500 and $5,000, respectively.

However, the Androscoggin County Budget Committee voted to lower salaries further to $3,500 and $3,000, respectively.


The commissioners also proposed cutting their health and dental plans by more than half to an individual health care plan worth about $8,400 per person. The Budget Committee disagreed and eliminated the benefit.

Citing language in the charter and an opinion from the board’s lawyer, the commissioners voted to restore the salaries and compensation at the reduced rate it originally proposed.

Originally, the board had planned to send individual letters to each municipality, answering each unique concern.

“We finally decided it would just be best to put it all out there because it was to finally get them to understand that we didn’t raise our salaries,” Commissioner Elaine Makas said.

The commissioners hope they can now get back to business. Several issues face the county in the coming months.

“We have a lot to do in the first six months,” Commissioner Randall Greenwood said. “We got a job description for the new administrator, the appointment of the treasurer and the register of deeds. We got bylaws that have to be done. Those things haven’t even gotten underway yet. We’re being so focused on being reactive to what is going on. We want to be proactive and move things forward.”


In other business, the commissioners voted to renovate the law library into a second courtroom. The room is already being used as a courtroom, but the set-up is less than ideal.

Justice MaryGay Kennedy gave a presentation on how the library will be converted into a better functioning courtroom. The state already has set aside money for the renovations.

“The plan to to renovate and modify the library will make it a beautiful courtroom,” Kennedy said.

The plan includes moving the judge’s bench to where the stacks of law books are, moving the jury box and adding a judge’s chamber.

The stacks are scheduled to be donated to the Franco Center, but the law books have no value, Kennedy said, because they have not been updated for several years.

Once the renovations are completed, arraignments and court cases should move faster, Kennedy said.

Letter to Municipalities in Androscoggin County

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