AUBURN — Longtime Androscoggin County Clerk Patricia Fournier announced her retirement Wednesday night after serving the county for more than 40 years.

Fournier’s surprise announcement came following an executive session that Fournier requested at the conclusion of the county commission meeting.

Over the years, Fournier also served as the county personnel director and its purchasing agent.

“It makes me very, very sad,” Commissioner Elaine Makas said. “Pat has been a wonderful county clerk and I consider her a friend. She is the county. It’s very tough.” 

There was no immediate word on her replacement.

The county commissioners began work on finalizing the 2016 county budget, but took no action on cuts to their salaries, insurance benefits or legal fees made by the Budget Committee. Commissioners plan to take up those line items at their next meeting Wednesday, Dec. 16, when the budget is expected to be adopted.

Commissioners made a few changes to the recommendations made by the Budget Committee. They unanimously restored $1,000 to the Registry of Probate, which was cut from the court-appointed attorneys fund. 

Funding for the jail received much scrutiny. The Budget Committee had cut $28,000 from attorney services, leaving it at $9,000. With input from Sheriff Eric Samson, the Budget Committee added that amount back in for the underfunded food and overtime accounts.

Commissioners were uncomfortable with the Budget Committee’s changes.

“That amount is unrealistic,” Commissioner Randall Greenwood said of the $9,000 remaining in the account. “I feel confident that we need to keep it at $37,000.”

The rest of the commissioners agreed, voting 6-0-1 to restore the cut to the attorney services account and eliminate the added funding for food and overtime. Commissioner Sally Christner abstained.

Commissioners agreed with the Budget Committee on $121,750 in cuts, including $114,000 to the communications budget.  Other cuts included: 

• District Attorney — $750 for automobile mileage;

• Building — $700 for tools and implements;

• Registry of Deeds — $300 for postage and $150 for printing and engraving;

• Registry of Probate — $250 for repairs to equipment and $600 for typewriter repairs; and

• Civil Process — $5,000 for a motor vehicle.

The board also agreed with the Budget Committee on shifting money around in the Sheriff’s Department budget to allow hiring an additional investigator for the second half of 2016. Greenwood abstained on the 6-0-1 vote.

Emergency Management Agency Director Joanne Potvin provided commissioners with an updated Chemical Emergency Response Plan for Androscoggin County, which has already been approved by the state.

Expected actions on hiring a county treasurer and an administrative assistant were tabled to Dec. 16.

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