The Androscoggin County Commission is withholding paying rent for the District Attorney’s Office on the second floor at 55 Lisbon St. in Lewiston, seen in July 2023, until issues with the elevator and roof are resolved. The 8th District Courthouse stands next to it. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal

AUBURN — The Androscoggin County commissioners said Wednesday that it will continue withholding rent payments on the Lisbon Street building that is home to the District Attorney’s Office.

Last month, commissioners voted to stop paying the $4,500 monthly rent for use of the second floor at 55 Lisbon St. until the chronic issues with the building are resolved. The building is adjacent to the 8th District Court.

Problems include an elevator that has not worked since the fall of 2022, roof leaks and earlier this year, the building had no electricity for four consecutive days.

The county has rented space in the building for about eight years and has three years remaining on its lease.

Built in 1921, the three-story structure is also home to U.S. Sen. Susan Collins’ regional office on the first floor. The third floor is vacant.

According to records from the Androscoggin County Registry of Deeds, the property is owned by Financial Center Associates.

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Two months behind in rent, the county has heard nothing from the building owner about paying the missing rent, Mike Perry, the administrator in the DA’s Lewiston office, said.

Perry said it appears the elevator is finally being looked at for repairs and he was informed that a broken part should arrive by March 18.

The county will revisit the issue each month.

The state is planning to eventually purchase the building at 55 Lisbon St., knock out the walls between that building and the District Court, and connect the hallways to provide needed space for the court to allow attorney and their clients a place for private consultations.

Looking for a new facility in downtown Lewiston, Perry said he has looked at about a half-dozen buildings so far. He said he will provide more information on his search in the next month or two.

He added that the real estate market has changed and rent payments will likely be more expensive.

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The county has about two years to find a new home.

In other business, commissioners agreed to spend $9,987.20 in American Rescue Plan Act funds for 80 new batteries for the portable radios from Dirigo Wireless.

Sheriff Eric Samson, who is also the interim county administrator, said the current batteries are more than 15 years old and no longer holding a charge for an entire 12-hour shift. That could leave deputies at risk with limited or no radio contact if they are away from their cruiser.

The purchase will allow each employee to have two batteries.

The board also approved the county tax assessment. According the county Treasurer Clarice Proctor, the new rate is 0.00105, which is lower than the current rate of 0.00114.

The total tax to be collected from the 14 municipalities in the county is $13,801,410.

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