PORTLAND — A Cumberland County Superior Court justice has dismissed a civil complaint filed by York County Sheriff Bill King, saying his appeal of York County Commissioners’ actions regarding his salary came too late.

King claimed York County Commissioners failed to follow state law when they voted to pay him less than the amount spelled out in the county budget when he took office on Jan. 1, 2015, following his election as sheriff in November 2014.

The five-member Board of Commissioners failed to follow a state statute that prohibits the reduction of a county sheriff ’s budgeted pay, the complaint alleged.

The suit was filed on King’s behalf by Portland attorney Mark Dion on July 27. Dion, a former Cumberland County sheriff who is now in his third term as a member of the Maine House of Representatives, sponsored the bill that created the law.

The complaint pointed out that the 2014 budgeted salary for the sheriff was $93,537 – and that he had ascertained that information prior to formally filing to run for sheriff.

During county commissioners meetings in May and June 2015, County Manager Greg Zinser said that in December 2013 – about a month before candidates for office could take out nomination papers – commissioners approved a pay scale for elected officials that included a range of $60,000 to $80,000 for sheriff.

At a May 20 commissioners meeting, Zinser said the budgeted $93,537 figure was for the prior sheriff, and that the cited law is a matter of interpretation. Neither he nor commissioners spoke about the inclusion of the $95,890 figure they approved as the sheriff ’s salary in the budget document for 2015.

On June 3, commissioners voted 4-1 to raise King’s salary, which had remained at about $78,000 from his time as chief deputy, to $88,000.

On the same night, the York County Budget Committee, which approves annual county budgets, declined a request from county commissioners and the county manager to reduce the budget document to reflect an $88,000 salary for the sheriff.

In his order dismissing the case, Superior Court Justice Thomas Warren said King did not file his appeal of governmental action within 30 days of the June 3 vote, and had not sought an extension. He disagreed with the sheriff’s argument that he had six months to file.

“Sheriff King cannot argue that he is really seeking to appeal the Budget Committee’s failure to act and therefore had six months in which to file,” Warren wrote. “He is not complaining about the inaction of the Budget Committee, and he is not suing the Budget Committee.

“He is complaining that on June 3, 2015, the county commissioners wrongfully set his salary at $88,000 when they were legally required to set it at $93,357. As to that challenge, his 80B (appeal of governmental action) complaint is untimely.”

King declined comment. Dion did not respond to an email request seeking comment.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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