SKOWHEGAN — The elected Somerset County registrar of deeds did not show up for work Thursday in defiance of county officials who recently stripped her of full-time hours and gave her just one day of work a month.

Diane Godin’s hours were slashed to the first Thursday of each month and her benefits were eliminated by a unanimous vote of Somerset County commissioners on Jan. 21.

The vote followed complaints about Godin’s behavior and a confrontation at the county courthouse on Dec. 4, when Godin was ordered to leave the building and not to return until commissioners renegotiated her contract.

Her absence from the job Thursday, confirmed by County Administrator Dawn DiBlasi, put county commissioners in a quandary and raised questions about Godin’s standing as an elected official.

In the meantime, the county’s deputy registrar, Laura Price, who ran unsuccessfully against Godin in the November election, is authorized to do the registrar’s work.

Deputy Secretary of State Julie Flynn said Thursday that Somerset County commissioners will likely need to get legal advice to determine what happens next. Flynn said her records show Godin took the oath of office after the election in November.

“Someone’s going to have to find out if she’s resigning or she’s not taking office,” Flynn said. “I guess the county commissioners need to find out. Is there a medical problem? Is she planning to resign?

“We don’t have any role in determining that a vacancy exists, so the county commissioners are going to have to get a legal opinion as to whether her not showing up for work constitutes a vacancy. Do they know that no medical issues exists or that she didn’t go off the road in a snowstorm?”

Godin, 52, did not respond to emails Thursday seeking comment, and a working phone number could not be located.

Commissioners cut her hours after allegations she was rude to the public, behaved angrily and other related issues.

After her hours were cut, she was supposed to work one eight-hour day a month for a stipend of $5,000 annually with payments made after she completes her work each month. As elected registrar, Godin is responsible for signing and certifying financial reports on real estate transfers for the Maine Revenue Service and the Board of Commissioners.

Last year, Godin was paid $40,800 plus benefits for a total package of $56,029.

Commission Chairman Robert Dunphy of Embden and vice-chairman Newell Graf of Skowhegan said they hadn’t spoken to anyone about the matter Thursday and were not aware that Godin was not on the job, as directed by commissioners.

“She’s still the elected registrar of deeds,” Dunphy said. “I’m assuming that the agreement we had still stands, and someone has to get the work done for her. Maybe she’ll come back to us. Otherwise, we’ll have to discuss it in two weeks at the next commissioners’ meeting.”

Previous discussions concerning Godin’s employment were conducted in closed executive session. The vote to reduce her hours, pay and benefits was done in public session.

Philip Roy, a county commissioner from Fairfield and a former board chairman, said if Godin does not show up for work, then she will not be paid.

“We set the hours and we set the pay. If she doesn’t show up to work, she doesn’t get paid for this day of work,” Roy said. “The order was she had to come into work to get paid. We’re not looking at removing her. We have a deputy registrar, and in the absence of the registrar, she is the acting registrar.”

DiBlasi said county officials may have to see whether the Office of the Maine Attorney General will take any action.

“If she continues to stay out, the commissioners will have to decide what action to take,” DiBlasi said. “We want to be fair. Things have been very difficult.”

Even so, DiBlasi added: “We’re all done paying somebody who doesn’t do her job.”

If Godin resigns, the governor would appoint someone to fill the vacancy until the next general election in 2016, Flynn said. If she is not resigning, it’s a legal question that could wind up in court.

State law says that the “removal” of a registrar of deeds can only be done by the Superior Court acting on a filing by the attorney general’s office or a grand jury and entering a judgment for removal if the person is “found guilty of misconduct in his office or incapable of discharging its duties.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

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Twitter: @Doug_Harlow