County Commissioners give the go-ahead on regional animal control position

ELLSWORTH — The Hancock County Commissioners approved a proposal to create a new animal control position that will be shared by multiple towns and unorganized territories at their meeting on Sept. 20.

The decision allows the plan to move forward, with changes to come in the future before the position is finalized.

The plan has been in the works for months at the town level and was brought to the commissioners at their meeting for their review.

Millard Billings represented the towns and territories involved and discussed the plan with the commissioners.

“Right now, we have eight communities that are interested in doing this,” said Billings, referring to the towns of Franklin, Gouldsboro, Hancock, Lamoine, Sullivan, Sorrento, Trenton and Winter Harbor, as well as the Unorganized Territories of Hancock County.

The commissioners were concerned with the commitment level of each of the towns, and asked Billings what the situation would be if some of the towns decided to pull out of the agreement, or if some towns that were ready to commit signed an agreement while waiting for other towns to formally join them.

“I think this falls by the wayside,” said Billings in response to questions about what would happen if not all of the towns formally agreed.

Billings also discussed the next steps that need to be taken by the interested parties in order to get the position up and running so that a candidate can be hired.

“We need to have a job description,” Billings said. “We need to advertise for the job.”

Since there is not a formal job description in place, Billings answered questions posed by the commissioners regarding the degree of law enforcement power that the animal control officer would be granted. This was to specify whether the officer would have the power to arrest, or simply to deal with animal-related matters.

Billings clarified this concern saying, “They [the animal control officer] would not have arrest powers.”

This review of the plan was simply for the commissioners to give the go-ahead for the towns to continue to revise the plan and create a formal description of the position and how it would function. The approval at this meeting did not actually create the position, as more changes need to be made before it is finalized.

“The idea of moving this forward now is so we have numbers for the towns so they can go to their spring town meetings and move forward,” Billings said.

The commissioners moved to approve the concept of the regional animal control position, giving the towns involved the go-ahead to continue creating a plan and making changes as they see fit.

Another meeting will be held by the regional animal control committee on Thursday, Sept. 22, to continue planning.

Malachy Flynn

Reporter Malachy Flynn covers news on the Schoodic beat, which includes the towns of Eastbrook, Franklin, Hancock, Sorrento, Sullivan, Trenton, Waltham, and Winter Harbor. He also reports on the town of Tremont on Mount Desert Island. He welcomes tips and suggestions about stories in the area. To contact Malachy with tips or questions, email him at [email protected].

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