Piscataquis budget OK’d; sheriff’s salary spared

Posted Dec. 07, 2010, at 10:51 p.m.

DOVER-FOXCROFT, Maine — A 2011 county budget that restores $9,710 that had been cut from Sheriff John Goggin’s salary was approved Tuesday by the Piscataquis County commissioners.

“We have reinstated the sheriff’s salary based on comments received at the public hearing on the 2011 budget,” said Commission Chairman Tom Lizotte. “The purpose of that hearing is to hear from the public, and the sheriff did a good job of marshaling his support for his position.”

The commissioners had earlier reduced Goggin’s salary from $58,710 to $49,000 — the only salary commissioners reduced in the proposed 2011 budget — “to align his pay to the level of his performance.”

Goggin, who learned of the proposed cut during a public meeting, called the move “vindictive” because he hasn’t agreed with the commissioners’ philosophy. He threatened to sue the commissioners and the county.

At a public hearing last month, residents and former and current employees of the Sheriff’s Department packed the courthouse to speak out against Goggin’s proposed salary cut.

“It was an impressive show of support for you, John,” Lizotte said Tuesday.

Goggin, who attended Tuesday’s meeting, retorted that he had not asked one person to attend last month’s public hearing on his behalf.

In addition to the salary change, the commissioners removed $5,000 from the sheriff’s vehicle capital account for the purchase of a cruiser. There is about $12,000 in the account now, so rather than add $5,000 to it in 2011, the commissioners agreed to add whatever was needed in the 2012 budget and purchase a vehicle that year.

Lizotte said the $3,872,438 budget adopted Tuesday reflected a decrease of about $20,000 from the budget presented at the public hearing. The final budget represents a total decrease of $85,337 from the 2010 budget.

Since the public hearing, the commissioners made a part-time clerical position in the District Attorney’s Office full-time. They also fixed a calculation error involving sick time and vacation time for courthouse employees; reduced health insurance in the probate office because of a policy coverage change; and added a small amount of funds to cover the transition between the outgoing and incoming treasurers. Since the finance director will be out six weeks for an operation, current treasurer Paul Raymond has agreed to stay on the job to bridge the transition gap.

The commissioners also adopted the 2011 budget for the Unorganized Territory. The $1.5 million budget reflects an increase in expenses of less than $25,000 from 2010. The use of $265,000 in surplus will result in a decrease in the assessments.

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