ELLSWORTH — Hancock County’s foray with Chief Financial Officer Phil Roy has ended and the statutory rights of County Treasurer Janice Eldridge have been restored to her.
Eldridge reached an agreement about hours and compensation with the Hancock County Commissioners in September.
“As of Sept. 18, I was restored,” Eldridge said. “Everything will go on as it has.”
Except Eldridge will be at the courthouse a lot more. The treasurer had been limited to five hours a week. That was a practice in place even before the commissioners hired Roy to serve as CFO.
“Elected officials are considered 40 hours a week,” Eldridge said.
“I have a lot to learn,” Eldridge said. “I was so limited before in what I was allowed to do.”
County Administrator Eugene Conlogue said the commissioners voted to increase Eldridge’s salary from a little over $5,000 to $37,000 per year.
“She is the department head for the Office of the Treasurer/Financial Affairs,” Conlogue said.
The head of the Finance Department had been Roy. However, Hancock County ended its relationship with Roy in July after an investigation by the Maine Office of the State Auditor.
The examination revealed that the county had broken state law by hiring a CFO and restricting the duties of an elected official, the county treasurer.
In her June 2015 report, State Auditor Pola Buckley stated, “…It appears to us…that the people of Hancock County were treated unfairly because their choice of treasurer was not followed.”
The wrongdoing was revealed after the state auditor investigated a Tax Increment Financing deficit in an unorganized territory fund.
Buckley said while investigating that deficit that her office discovered the commissioners had been “obstructing” the treasurer.
“It was the will of the people that Janice Eldridge be the treasurer of Hancock County,” Buckley said. “Along with that came a full-time job and full-time pay and full-time benefits.”
“The finding that deals with obstructing the county treasurer, I think, is very, very serious,” Buckley said in July.
In 2005, Hancock County voters rejected a proposal, by a margin of 2-1, to make the county treasurer an appointed position instead of an elected one.
Eldridge had a 35 year career managing the law office of Blaisdell & Blaisdell before being elected treasurer.