ABBOT, Maine — It hasn’t happened yet, but Piscataquis County residents could elect a county treasurer with no business or finance background to handle the county’s $6 million budget.
The only requirement in state statute now is that the candidate be a resident of the county where he or she is seeking election. On the other hand, an appointed treasurer must be qualified in business administration and finance, according to state law.
The difference in qualifications between the two has alarmed Piscataquis County commissioners.
“We depend upon the treasurer to make crucial decisions” regarding the county’s finances, Commissioner Tom Lizotte said Tuesday at a meeting in the Abbot Municipal Building.
The commissioners earlier had discussed the possibility of changing the position in the county from elective to appointive, but recognized that county residents prefer to have the opportunity to vote. They now are focusing their efforts to upgrade the qualifications in the election process to include a business and finance background.
On Tuesday, the commissioners met with Sen. Douglas Smith, R-Dover-Foxcroft, Rep. Paul Davis, R-Sangerville, and Rep. Pete Johnson, R-Greenville, to gauge their support for such a change.
Since any change in the law would affect all counties that elect their treasurers, the legislative delegation suggested that the Maine County Commissioners Association weigh in on the proposal. If there is little support from other counties, the commissioners said they would seek the change specifically for Piscataquis County.
Davis agreed there should be a balance, but he was against having the wording too restrictive. He recalled a similar move several years ago that tightened the qualifications of candidates for sheriff. He said the sheriffs were pleased with the move because it eliminated most of their competition. Davis said he and others worked to change the law to make it less restrictive.