AUBURN — The Androscoggin County Commission on Wednesday formally authorized spending $75,000 from the American Rescue Plan Act to buy equipment to establish a dedicated officer to patrol the Route 4 corridor in the hopes of slowing traffic and making the road safer for commuters and residents.

Commissioners had signed off on the idea at their last meeting but were awaiting exact budget figures to apply toward the county’s ARPA funds. That figure came in about $20,000 more than Sheriff Eric Samson had originally estimated.

The money is part of the $21 million received by the county from the federal American Rescue Plan Act signed in 2021 to help municipalities, counties and states bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.

To explain the increase, Samson said equipment prices have jumped in the past year or two, like everything else. Supplies are also limited, with some items taking several months to obtain, which is why Samson said it is important to order the equipment now.

The item he said he is most concerned about receiving in a timely manner is the radio, which at one point had an eight-month backlog.

The $74,454 request will cover the cost of a police cruiser, radio, gun, cameras, proper markings and other equipment needed to equip a cruiser.


The position calls for a starting wage of about $60,000 plus $2,000 for uniforms. Those funds are included in the proposed 2024 county budget under review by the Budget Committee.

The decision to add a dedicated patrol officer to the Route 4 corridor came after several recent serious accidents. The road is a busy major, mostly two-lane thoroughfare through the county with vehicles driving at high speeds between Auburn and Livermore Falls. The road also goes through Turner and Livermore.

In other business, commissioners revisited the $950,000 awarded to Trinity Jubilee Center at Bates and Spruce streets in Lewiston.

The center, which has offered a soup kitchen, food pantry, day shelter, diaper bank, medical clinic and other services to people in need, has rented space in the basement of Trinity Episcopal Church for more than 30 years. With that space being limited and facing other challenges, the center is planning to build a facility three blocks away on Bates Street across from the Fire Station. It will be 5,500 square feet, more than twice its current size, and will help solve its storage issues.

The county awarded the center $950,000 in March with a 50% matching grant on all money raised. The project had an estimated budget of about $3.3 million to build the new facility. But Barry Dunn, the accounting firm hired by the county to oversee its spending of ARPA money, discovered that Trinity was including its expenses for the capital campaign, not just construction costs.

The federal government does not allow its funds to be used for fundraising costs, and Trinity now understands it cannot include fundraising costs for the 50% match.

The county added three months onto the deadline for Trinity to use its funds to Sept. 30, 2024. If all the money is not used, the county will have three months to find another recipient.

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