ELLSWORTH, Maine — The new treasurer-elect of Hancock County intends to keep his current part-time job as a corrections officer at the county jail after he takes on his new duties in the county finance office in January.
Michael Boucher, 31, of Sorrento has the blessing of other county officials in continuing to work at the jail after he becomes treasurer.
At the county commissioners’ meeting on Tuesday, Boucher discussed the matter with commissioners, current Treasurer Janice Eldridge, Hancock County Administrator Scott Adkins and Tim Richardson, the county’s jail administrator. Boucher is expected to take over as treasurer from Eldridge, who opted not to seek re-election, at the beginning of the year.
Boucher and Pamela Linscott, the county’s appointed finance coordinator, were the only two people interested in the position, each of them running as a write-in candidate. Boucher won election to a four-year term as treasurer, narrowly edging Linscott by getting 478 votes to her 404.
Adkins told other officials Tuesday that he sought out a legal opinion from the county’s attorney and was told Boucher will not have a conflict of interest in serving as a corrections officer and as the elected county treasurer.
As the county’s treasurer, Boucher will have a statutory role in helping to manage the county’s finances but no oversight or involvement in the operations of other departments or in setting the budget for any county department or program, county officials said. It is the elected county commissioners who set the final itemized annual budget for the county.
Boucher works on call, as needed at the jail, and so works there sporadically, including some weeks when he does not work at the jail at all. Like other corrections officers, he will have to continue to clock in when he begins shifts at the jail, and will receive separate rates of pay for the two county jobs he will hold.
Commissioner Bill Clark told Boucher that the commissioners have been hoping that the new treasurer would have financial management experience so Adkins, a former finance administrator for Penobscot County, would be able to spend less of his time helping to manage the county’s daily finances.
Boucher assured Clark and Antonio Blasi, the commission chairman, that he planned to put in as much time as possible and to get whatever training they deemed necessary in order to fulfill their expectations for the elected post. Outgoing Commissioner Percy “Joe” Brown, who last month lost his re-election bid to Bucksport resident John Wombacher, was not at Tuesday’s meeting.
“I do have the ability to learn and to do this job,” Boucher told county officials.
Commissioners decided to set Boucher’s rate of pay as the county treasurer at $17.75 per hour and to schedule him to work as treasurer 32 hours each week.
After meeting with commissioners, Boucher said he ran for the post in part because very few others seemed interested and because he feels strongly that the position should remain an elected one, so that county voters can have a direct say over who has daily oversight in managing county finances. County commissioners at times have expressed an interest in making the position an appointed one — including in 2005, when voters supported keeping it an elected position — so that they can require whoever fills the position to have adequate financial management experience.
Boucher said he intends to learn as much as he can on the job in managing the county’s finances and in representing the interests of county voters.
“I’m very vehemently opposed to [making the post an appointed one],” Boucher said. “The treasurer is the elected person that is responsible, through the ballot box, to ensure that county funds are being spent appropriately. I think it is a very important check in our system of [county] government.”
Boucher said that, in addition to keeping his corrections officer post, he also hopes to continue serving as a part-time police officer in the Waldo County town of Northport, which he said keeps him busy during summer weekends but not so much at this time of year.
He said he also has a busy family life. An Ellsworth native and former Ellsworth city councilor, Boucher and his wife have two young children and are expecting a third.
“It’s interesting,” Boucher said. “I have the ability to handle the workload and stress-load that obviously is going to come along with the multiple hats I am wearing.”