Lincoln creating public safety director’s job to save money

Posted July 31, 2013, at 4:44 p.m.

LINCOLN, Maine — Town leaders will pick a new treasurer and fill a position created to oversee the Police and Fire departments, officials said Wednesday.

The public safety director’s position is a first for Lincoln but has been a staple in Hampden and Brewer, among other locales. The Town Council will vote on recommendations to hire a public safety director and a treasurer during its meeting on Aug. 12, town manager William Lawrence said.

“The main reason that I am in favor of it is economics,” council Chairman Steve Clay said Wednesday about the new public safety position. “If we get the right person in there we will save money in the long run on salaries, benefits and things like that.”

Lincoln has had recent difficulties keeping its fire and police chiefs. Four-year Police Chief Hank Dusenberry resigned in 2007. Penobscot County Sheriff’s Department William Flagg succeeded him that year and resigned the job two years later. Police Chief Scott Minckler resigned in early 2011 and was replaced that year by Lawrence, a former Bangor detective, who became town manager in June.

Howland’s fire chief and a former state trooper, Fire Chief Phil Dawson was interim police chief several times since becoming Lincoln’s top firefighter in 2006. He replaced former Chief Joshua Williams, who succeeded Chief William Lee, who resigned in 2005. Dawson resigned earlier this year, denying a conflict of interest in helping Howland and Lincoln establish ambulance services with different agencies.

Clay acknowledged the turnover in both departments, saying the new position “is something that we are trying.”

“I can’t guarantee that it is going to work but I have confidence in Bill Lawrence’s hiring process. If he is going to recommend somebody we will get a quality person,” Clay added.

Lawrence said his two candidates, finalists for the new position whom he declined to name, have stronger police than fire backgrounds because police work generally requires more certifications and training. He believes both are strong leaders and administrators, key qualities for the new job, he said.

The salary for the position is under negotiation, but it is expected to save the town about $30,000 annually in salaries, plus some savings in benefits. Lawrence and councilors considered creating the new position due to significant cuts in state revenue sharing with municipalities and a desire to keep property taxes low, he and Clay said.

Thirteen people applied for the job, Lawrence said.

Deputy Fire Chief Herve Clay will handle fire department responses to large-scale emergencies and town leaders will probably consider creating a fire position equivalent to that held by police Sgt. Glenn Graef, who provides immediate supervision to the department’s six full-time officers, once a public safety director is hired, Lawrence said.

The new treasurer, meanwhile, will succeed Gilberte Mayo, who retired in May after having been placed on administrative leave with pay in April pending the outcome of an internal investigation. She and town officials have never commented on why Mayo was investigated.

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