Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson and Chief Deputy William Gagne, right, speak at a Livermore Falls selectmen meeting Tuesday.

LIVERMORE FALLS — Androscoggin County Sheriff Eric Samson on Tuesday presented selectmen with what it would cost the town to contract county police service.

The cost of 24-hour coverage seven days per week from the Sheriff’s Office would be $499,815 for the first year, Samson said. After that, costs could go up or down.

Livermore Falls has roughly 3,000 residents.

This year, the town paid $415,807 for Livermore Falls Police Department coverage. Next year, the police budget as proposed totals $537,000.

However, Town Manager Kristal Flagg said the reason for the apparent large increase in the town’s police budget for the next year is because the Federal Insurance Contributions Act tax and benefits are being included in the total cost. Last year, they were included on a separate budget line.

Not including FICA and benefits, the total cost increase for the Livermore Falls Police for next year would be $7,780, Flagg said. 

Townspeople and selectmen had many questions for Samson. One person asked if deputies would be based in town with the contracted service.

Samson said they would work from the current Police Department space. Employees assigned to cover the town would remain in town except for situations such as mutual aid requests, follow-up investigations, court, prisoner transport or when authorized by a supervisor.

“You’d be putting public safety at risk if you had less than 24-hour coverage,” Samson said.

The Sheriff’s Office patrol staff works 12-hour shifts for a total average of 42 hours per week. One week, the employee would work 36 hours and the following week would work 48 hours for an average of 42 hours.

Employees are compensated 42 hours per week. Overtime is any hours worked over 84 hours in a two-week period.

Patrol deputies would follow the current patrol schedule of the Androscoggin County Sheriff’s Office patrol division. Employees would bid yearly on shifts based on their respective seniority and would remain on that shift unless a change is approved by administration because of a vacancy or for disciplinary reasons.

Most residents were convinced that Livermore Falls should keep its current police force and not contract with Androscoggin County.

“None of us like high taxes,” said resident Brenda Brochu, “but my conclusion is you’re about the same. Why change?”

“I hope the taxpayers back up this Police Department,” said another resident, Jim Purington.

Selectman George Cummings said he wanted to put the two options for police coverage on the ballot at some point and let the public decide.

“All we’re doing is a comparison,” he said.

Selectmen emphasized that they would not put the county police contract proposal on this year’s June town meeting referendum ballot. They didn’t rule out holding a special town meeting in the future and giving residents a choice of either keeping the town’s police service as is or contracting out for service.

“We’ll take the time to study it and make sure we do the right thing,” Chairwoman Louise Chabot said.

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