September 23, 2019
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Longtime Orrington officer quits as town looks at cheaper policing options

Alex Acquisto | BDN
Alex Acquisto | BDN
Orrington Town Hall

A longtime police officer who patrolled Orrington has resigned after selectmen last week refused to fund two additional full-time officers and created a committee to explore cheaper options for policing the town.

The Orrington Board of Selectmen on Monday accepted Sgt. Jon Carson’s resignation without comment following a 40-minute executive session.

Carson declined to comment on why he resigned, so the reason is not clear.

Carson had been a police officer for about 17 years and was one of three full-time officers employed by the town along with eight part-time deputies.

Carson, 50, of Orrington appeared at the Monday meeting for a few moments following the executive session and left with his wife, Town Clerk Susan Carson.

He was the third town employee in nine months to quit. Town Manager Paul White resigned in July and Interim Town Manager Andy Fish left in late January to take a job as finance director in neighboring Holden. Joan Gibson of Levant has been working as town manager for about a month.

Selectmen were at the Center Drive School on Monday to hold a public hearing on next year’s proposed town budget. It will be presented to residents at the annual town meeting June 3.

The budget includes a 4 percent increase for police services, to $255,000 from $244,000. That includes raises for full- and part-time officers and increases in the cost of uniforms, ammunition, vehicle repairs and utilities. It does not include the two additional full-time officer positions Carson requested.

Last week, as they rejected Carson’s request, selectmen agreed to explore other policing options for the town, such as a contract with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office that would have its deputies patrol Orrington rather than the town employing its own police officers.

The uncertain future of Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. waste-to-energy facility that represents 11 percent of the town’s tax base is one reason selectmen and town residents are concerned about future budgets.

Most towns that long sent their solid waste to PERC have stopped doing so in anticipation of sending their waste to the new Fiberight facility in Hampden. A year ago, PERC laid off more than 20 percent of its workforce after losing contracts with those communities.

“We need to weigh all the options,” Selectman Christopher Robison said after the meeting. “We can’t do things to cut the budget at the expense of the safety of our citizens.”

 

Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Selectman Christopher Robison and incorrectly stated that PERC’s future was the reason selectmen decided to explore other policing options.


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