LEWISTON — An amendment to the Androscoggin County Charter appeared headed for approval Tuesday, with all but the towns of Livermore and Livermore Falls reporting election results.

The unofficial tally was 12,186 to 5,546.

The amendment is aimed at resolving the issue of who has final say over county salaries, the County Commission or the County Budget Committee, made up of elected town officials and state legislators.

The amendment adds this to the section on compensation: “Notwithstanding the final authority of the Board of Commissioners over the adoption of the county budget under Section 5.5.4, no increase in the salaries or expansion of benefits of elected officials is effective without the approval of a majority plus one vote of the full Budget Committee.”

Commissioners unanimously voted in May to amend the county charter following a contentious budget process last fall over commissioners’ salaries.

Because the new county charter increased the number of commissioners from three to seven and added the position of county administrator, commissioners proposed lowering their salaries last fall to $5,000, with an additional $500 for the chairman. They also switched their family health insurance plan to an individual plan worth nearly $8,500.

The Budget Committee felt the reduction did not go far enough because of the reduced work load and responsibilities. The panel cut commissioners’ salaries to $3,000, with $3,500 for the chairman, and eliminated all health benefits. 

The three commissioners at the time — Beth Bell, Elaine Makas and Randall Greenwood — overruled the Budget Committee, voting 2-0-1 (Greenwood abstained) to reject the ruling and approved their original proposal — a yearly salary of $5,000, with an extra $500 for the chairman and added back in their health insurance.

The county municipalities have filed suit against the commissioners to enforce the Budget Committee’s power to decide salary and compensation for elected officials.

Commissioners, who say the charter gives them that power, decided to fend off concerns that they could raise their salaries with no oversight by proposing the amendment to clarify the Budget Committee’s role.

Opponents say the Budget Committee already has that power as well as final authority over the entire county budget. They called the referendum a power grab.

UPDATE

The towns of Livermore and Livermore Falls reported that they passed the County Charter Amendment.

In Livermore, the referendum passed 245-108.

In Livermore Falls, the referendum passed 186-83.

In Androscoggin County, the referendum passed 12,617-5,737.

The results are unofficial.

2015 Election Coverage

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