AUBURN — After several failed amendments and nearly an hour of debate, Androscoggin County Commissioner Isaiah Lary of Wales accused fellow commissioners Wednesday of attempting to push through the adoption of three amendments to county Administrator Larry Post’s contract.

“Our decisions affect the taxpayers,” said Lary, who wanted to cut or limit the severance package in the administrator’s contract. 

Commissioner Sally Christner of Turner had heard enough.

“We’ve spent six weeks and four meetings on three points in the contract,” Christner said. “We’re not rushing it through at all.”

Lary failed to convince enough commissioners Wednesday to eliminate the three-month severance package or even cut the length of time it would cover. Several of his amendments died for lack of a second, including a bid to table the contract changes Post had agreed to in an executive session a few weeks ago.

Commissioners finally adopted the three changes in Post’s contract by a 4-3 vote.

The contract changes include:

• Changing the termination date to Oct. 19, 2020;

• Increasing Post’s salary from $70,000 to $75,000 for 2018, with $2,500 increases in 2019 and 2020; and

• Removing the words “without cause” from the terms of employment, meaning the administrator can only be removed before the contract expires “for cause” only.

It was the last point that Lary seized upon. He felt taxpayer money should not be used to pay a severance package if the administrator is terminated “for cause.” Lary said it would be irresponsible for the county to be locked in to pay severance in that scenario.

He first tried to cut severance from 90 days to three weeks and then tried to eliminate the entire severance package. Neither of those proposals received any traction.

After Commissioner Bonney Starbird of Auburn received no support in her bid to cut severance to two months, Lary’s next move was to cut it to six weeks, but that also failed to receive a second.

Lary adopted the suggestion of Commissioner Melissa Willette of Lewiston to keep the “without cause” language in the contract, but that failed on a 3-4 vote with Lary, Willette and Starbird voting in favor.

Growing increasingly frustrated, Lary moved to cut the severance to two months and one day, but that failed in a 2-5 vote with Lary and Starbird favoring the change.

Following his exchange with Christner, Lary tried one last time to end the compensation, but his request to table was met with silence.

Commissioners voted 4-3 to approve the three changes to Post’s contract, with Christner, Starbird, Matthew Roy and Noel Madore voting yes.

As the first meeting of 2018, commissioners select new officers. Zachary Maher of Poland was elected chairman and Roy was re-elected as vice chairman. Christner, the previous chairwoman, decided not to run for re-election, but is remaining on the board.

The county will join Lewiston and Auburn to form a task force to explore creating a port authority around the Auburn-Lewiston airport. The port authority would seek to include rail, public transit and the intermodel facility in Auburn.

Lewiston Mayor Shane Bouchard extended the invitation.

Concerned that the county would be required to help fund the project, Lary urged commissioners to proceed with caution, but Christner saw value in having a seat at the table.

Commissioners voted 6-1 to accept the invitation. Post and Madore will join the task force.

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