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County commissioners approve new hires, changes to compensation structure

FORT KENT, Maine — Aroostook County commissioners approved the appointment Wednesday of four sheriff’s department corrections officers and a new deputy sheriff.

During their Aug. 14 meeting in Fort Kent, commissioners approved Sheriff Darrell Crandall’s recommendation to appoint Paul Deveau of Littleton and William Grant of Houlton as full-time corrections officers and Justin Nelson of Oakfield and Nicholas Hannigan of Houlton as a part-time corrections officers. Roy Guidry of Presque Isle was appointed as a full-time deputy sheriff.

Crandall said these new hires are being made to fill vacancies created by recent retirements.

In his legislative update, Norman Fournier told his fellow commissioners that lawmakers have not yet agreed on an amount for state funding to county jails. The latest biennial budget included $15.2 million statewide for county jails.

A committee is being formed to provide information to the Legislature’s criminal justice committee and to recommend state funding levels to the more than one dozen jails administered by Maine counties.

County Administrator Ryan D. Pelletier briefly updated the commissioners on the upcoming budgeting process. Last week, he received the last of the initial departmental budget requests.

“Over the next couple of weeks, I will be meeting with our finance analyst and each department head to review their requests and make my recommendations regarding the overall budget proposal that will begin the process with the finance committee and commissioners,” Pelletier said Friday.

The three budgets the county oversees — the general fund, jail budget and unorganized territories budget — currently total just under $11.5 million, according to Pelletier.

“I don’t anticipate any big changes at this time,” he said.  

County commissioners and Pelletier have planned budget workshop sessions in October, with a public hearing set for Nov. 14. A final budget will be recommended by the commissioners and approved by the county’s finance committee after that.

“We are, or soon will be, in contract negotiations with our two unions — [representing] law enforcement and corrections/dispatch,” said Pelletier Friday. “So, that will be something to consider.”

“I plan to present a budget that is fiscally prudent, sound and provides the financial resources to adequately provide the necessary level of services,” the county administrator said.

The commissioners also voted Wednesday to adopt a new compensation policy which will result in salary changes for those employees who are not unionized, according to Pelletier.

Last year, the county worked with a private consultant to analyze the compensation and salary structure for that group of employees.

“The salary structure will increase most current employees’ salaries,” Pelletier said. In cases where the employee now makes more per hour than what the new structure provides, the individual’s pay will be held at that rate until they work long enough to reach the next step increase.

The new compensation structure affects 30 full-time employees and 27 part-time and on-call employees, Pelletier said Friday. He anticipates the financial impact to the overall budget to be minimal.

Between appointed and elected positions, the county has 94 full-time and six part-time employees, according to Pelletier. In addition, there are 70 “on-call” employees in fire and law enforcement positions.

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