Pausing for a photo after taking their oaths of office Wednesday were incoming York County Commissioner Richard Clark of Wells, representing District 5; newly-elected York County Judge of Probate Bryan Chabot of Wells; York County Register of Probate Carol Lovejoy of Kennebunk, who was re-elected in the fall elections, as was York County Commissioner Michael Cote of Shapleigh, who represents District 4. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

Pausing for a photo after taking their oaths of office Wednesday were incoming York County Commissioner Richard Clark of Wells, representing District 5; newly-elected York County Judge of Probate Bryan Chabot of Wells; York County Register of Probate Carol Lovejoy of Kennebunk, who was re-elected in the fall elections, as was York County Commissioner Michael Cote of Shapleigh, who represents District 4. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

ALFRED — York County Commissioners will no longer be eligible for benefits like health insurance at county expense.

York County Deputy Treasurer Rose Leeman swears in York County Judge of Probate Bryan Chabot Wednesday at the York County government building. Chabot, a Democrat, won a three-way race for the part-time probate judgeship Nov. 8 for his four year term, which began the first of the year. TAMMY WELLS

York County Deputy Treasurer Rose Leeman swears in York County Judge of Probate Bryan Chabot Wednesday at the York County government building. Chabot, a Democrat, won a three-way race for the part-time probate judgeship Nov. 8 for his four year term, which began the first of the year. TAMMY WELLS

Their vote to eliminate benefits like health insurance, long- and short-term disability and retirement benefits for themselves came after a motion from Commissioner Michael Cote, which was seconded by Commissioner Richard Clark, at the board’s first meeting of the year, held Wednesday. It was approved in a 4-1 vote, with commissioner Richard Dutremble casting the dissenting vote, because, he said, he’s unsure whether the retirement benefit, once in place, can be rescinded.

The decision came after organizational aspects of  the first meeting of the year, which was also the first meeting of their four year terms for the officials following the Nov. 8 election.

Sworn into office were newly-elected York County Judge of Probate Bryan Chabot and Commissioner Clark. Sworn in after being returned to their positions by voters were Commissioner Cote and longtime York County Register of Probate Carol Lovejoy.

The five-member board’s policy over the last several years has been to allow commissioners benefits for themselves. But the practice, which allowed health insurance — or a stipend in lieu of health insurance, among other fringe benefits — has long rankled some commissioners and the county’s budget board.

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“We’re allowed health insurance or a (health insurance) stipend and other employee-type benefits and it has bothered me for a long time,” said Cote, who said commissioners should receive only the annual stipend they’re due as county commissioners, which amounts to slightly less than $49,000 for the five of them together. “It sends the wrong message.”

“I support Commissioner Cote’s motion,” said Clark, who previously served on the York County Budget Committee for a decade. “It has bothered me every year and I moved every year to remove it from the budget.”

Clark called the practice of commissioners receiving benefits “inappropriate and unfair to the taxpayer.”

Dutremble who has advocated for the last several years that commissioners receive no increase in their pay packets, said some benefits —  like retirement, may not be able to be rescinded.

“I agree on the health insurance,” said Dutremble.

The board agreed to have County Manager Greg Zinser look into the retirement program question, and they’ll amend their new policy pending the answer, if necessary.

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Commissioners also agreed to a meeting schedule, which will be 4:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of each month with the exception of the summer months, when they meet once a month.  Commissioners’ meetings take place at the York County government building at 149 Jordan Springs Road (Route 4).

— 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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