MECHANIC FALLS — The Town Council on Monday questioned whether the original countywide vote to approve a new Androscoggin County charter was conducted properly.

County commissioners recently voted to send a proposed charter amendment to voters in November that made it clear that the county Budget Committee had control over the commissioners’ salaries and benefits.

While the council supports such a measure, it was concerned that the issue really wasn’t about the squabble that arose over who has the power to set the commissioners’ pay, but rather whether the state election law was violated when the charter was approved.

Councilors pointed to the fact that the town of Mechanic Falls — and they assumed other towns as well — didn’t have a copy of the proposed new county charter. It didn’t have a copy available for town officials to read, and it didn’t have a copy for voters to read.

“If you are going to change the charter, people ought to have an opportunity to read it,” Councilor Wayne Hackett said.

Councilors were also perplexed that prior to the vote, the impression towns were given was that the new charter gave the Budget Committee, by a super-majority vote, final say over the entire county budget, but after the election, the county commissioners said that was not the case. Instead, the new charter gave the commissioners final say and the Budget Committee’s role was merely advisory.


A reading of the charter apparently bears out the commissioners’ opinions, but that only led councilors to wonder where the shift occurred.

And that, Hackett noted, is exactly why there should be a copy of what is being voted on available at the polls.

“Is it a law that the charter has to be posted for all to see?” Hackett asked. “That’s something that ought to be able to be answered, yes or no.” 

The council agreed to join Lewiston City Administrator Ed Barrett in challenging the narrowness of the county commissioners’ proposed charter amendment that’s up for a vote in November. But on Monday, the council was looking for answers to deeper questions.

“I see hanky-panky going on here,” Councilor Stephen Bolduc said.

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