ELLSWORTH — Hancock County officials want to add a finance manager or director to the payroll.
Hancock County Administrator Scott Adkins, who was finance director for Penobscot County for a decade, has been serving unofficially in that capacity since he was hired five years ago.
Adkins discussed the position with the Hancock County Commissioners at the board’s regular monthly meeting Tuesday.
The consensus, after much discussion, is that Adkins can’t effectively manage the county and work on projects when he’s spending half his time doing the finances.
“We simply need some leadership out there,” Adkins said of the finance office, “and we need some continuity. It’s one of those last pieces to solidify Hancock County government.”
“I see a need for this,” said Commissioner Paul Paradis. “I think the treasurer’s position is becoming more obsolete. I don’t see that’s working. Again, I’m very new.”
Hancock County Treasurer Michael Boucher, when he was elected two years ago without any finance or accounting experience, had intended to learn the job, but it didn’t work out, according to Chairman Bill Clark.
“He agreed to work under the protege of Scott Adkins and learn how to do the work,” Clark said.
The county was paying Boucher the base wage for Office of Treasurer ($200 a week) plus an hourly wage and health insurance.
“After two years, it became obvious he wasn’t going to learn how to do it,” said Clark.
So, now Boucher is paid the treasurer’s salary of $200 a week. The county also pays the treasurer’s health insurance, estimated at $10,000 annually.
“This is a case of where the treasurer is just a non-entity,” said Clark. “The finance clerk contacts him when there is a warrant and we have a couple of those a month, he blesses it and says go ahead and publish it.”
The American could not reach Boucher for comment before press time.
Clark has been lobbying, since he was sheriff, for the county to change from having an elected treasurer to one that’s appointed by the commissioners.
Finances are just too complex for someone who hasn’t received the training and education, he says.
“The day that Scott Adkins walks out of here without a finance manager, we’re in trouble,” Clark said. “I’ve said for the five years I’ve been here [as commissioner] we need this.”
Commissioner John Wombacher concurred.
“I think Scott’s role in keeping tabs on all this has been great, but it’s not sustainable,” Wombacher said. “We need to come up with a solution. This is a solution. The county administrator is bigger than being the county accountant. I want him to be free to work on county projects and not put in 40 percent of his time or more just keeping the books.”
The commissioners are going to discuss the issue further at a future meeting.