Turner officials discuss frustrations with county budget

Nov. 21—TURNER — The Select Board on Monday expressed their frustration with the Androscoggin County Commission's decision to spend $60,000 for a patrol deputy for state Route 4 without getting their opinion.

Selectmen previously said they were not in favor of the idea.

Selectman Kevin Nichols said he was on the county Budget Committee and is disappointed with attendance this year. He said he went to all meetings, except the last one, and the 14-member committee never had more than eight members in attendance. Therefore, it could not make changes to the county budget because there was never a supermajority of 11 votes required.

Nichols suggested Turner officials send a letter or message to other county towns to inform them that they did not ask for the extra patrol deputy. Most selectmen agreed.

At its Nov. 15 meeting, county commissioners agreed to add the extra patrol position, much to the frustration of other towns. A Livermore Falls official at that meeting said the patrol would not benefit the town because it has its own police department. Lisbon officials thought Turner should bear the funding burden.

Turner officials have said in previous Select Board discussions that other towns in the county cannot pass specific funding items on to one or more towns alone, and funding for initiatives must be spread among all towns in the county.

At Monday's meeting, Town Manager Kurt Schaub suggested the Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office seek help from the state police to patrol Route 4, which is a state road.

Nichols said the relationship between the state police and the Sheriff's Office is not good since a member of the Sheriff's Office criticized the lack of communication state police had with other law enforcement agencies during search for Robert Card, who killed 18 people and injured 13 others Oct. 25 at two recreational businesses in Lewiston.

Chairman Kurt Youland said the two agencies need to repair relations because the rift will hurt taxpayers.

He also mentioned how much the county's assessment to towns has increased the past several years, saying smaller budget increases add up over time.

The conversation ended with Youland and Selectman Steve Maheu agreeing they would like to have a meeting with municipal officers from other towns to discuss matters such as this.

They all agreed to send a letter to other towns explaining their stance on the county budget.

In other business, the Select Board agreed to abate around $2,000 in property taxes to resident Brent Dan for an error that resulted in him not receiving a homestead exemption he applied for in 2018. Dan did not notice the error until recently because the property was in escrow, during which taxes were lumped in with that, he said.

Schaub said there was no error in assessing the property, rather Dan was paying more than necessary because town staff did not correctly apply the homestead exemption to his property taxes. Municipal officers acknowledged it was the town's error and agreed to reimburse him going back to 2018.

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