Police to share admin assistant

BAR HARBOR — Karen Richter, a Bar Harbor public safety dispatcher, will start her new job as administrative assistant for the Bar Harbor and Mount Desert police departments next Monday, Feb. 9.

Jim Willis, who is serving as police chief for both towns, recommended the creation of the new position. Bar Harbor Town Manager Cornell Knight has signed off on it, and the Mount Desert Board of Selectmen, which previously had endorsed the proposal, was expected to give its final approval Wednesday night. The selectmen’s meeting was postponed from Monday night because of Monday’s snow storm.

Richter will work three days a week in Bar Harbor and two days a week in Mount Desert. Bar Harbor will pay 60 percent of her $40,908 annual salary and benefits; Mount Desert will pay 40 percent. That is the same proportion that each town is paying for the police chief’s position.

In December, both town boards approved a one-year extension of their agreement to share a police chief. At Willis’ request, that agreement called for establishing an administrative assistant position.

“The concept behind that is to get our supervisors back to supervising,” Willis said at the time. “Much of what is taking up their time is administrative in nature. We are taking our most experienced and probably most trusted officers, our supervisors, and strapping them to a desk.”

Willis said Richter’s duties will include payroll processing, personnel file administration, bill paying, grant administration paperwork, court paperwork processing and handling reimbursements from other law enforcement agencies and the courts.

He said Richter has ideal qualifications for the job. She has a degree in accounting and has handled payroll and accounts payable for the Ellsworth-area school system. Prior to that, she was the administrative assistant at Ellsworth Elementary School.

“And now she has worked here in a public safety setting for four-and-a-half years, so she understands our operation,” Willis said.

Richter said Monday that she is excited about the new job.

Willis said that even with the creation of the position, Mount Desert will save money because the town is paying only 40 percent of the cost of the police chief and administrative assistant.

He said in a memo to Town Manager Durlin Lunt that Treasurer Kathi Mahar has estimated the town will save about $40,000 this year in salary, benefit and equipment costs.

Bar Harbor Finance Director Stan Harmon said Bar Harbor will essentially break even. He figures the town’s 60 percent share of funding for the police chief and administrative assistant position will equal what the town would have spent for just a police chief of its own.

“We’ve run the numbers, and it’s basically a wash,” Harmon said.

Dick Broom

Dick Broom

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Dick Broom covers the towns of Mount Desert and Southwest Harbor, Mount Desert Island High School and the school system board and superintendent's office. He enjoys hiking with his golden retriever and finding new places for her to swim. [email protected]

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