SKOWHEGAN — Madison taxpayers got a refund on the 2017 cost of police services from Somerset County commissioners Wednesday, along with a replacement police cruiser for one totaled in an accident and a new cruiser paid for from the capital reserve fund.

Commissioners voted 5-0 to return $41,755 to the town of Madison, money that was overpaid as part of the fiscal 2017 budget, Sheriff Dale Lancaster said.

“When the sheriff’s office agreed to enter into an agreement with the town of Madison to provide police service, part of that contract is that we present a budget, and what we don’t use of that budget we’re not going to hold onto Madison taxpayers’ money — we’re going to return it to the town of Madison,” Lancaster said before Wednesday’s meeting of the county commissioners.

The town of Madison paid about $485,000 for police services for the year. The budgeted agreement inked in 2015 includes four Somerset County deputies assigned to the Madison Division of the sheriff’s office in three 8-hour shifts with three police cruisers. One of the cruisers had to be replaced following a crash in Madison in November. Lancaster said part of the money to purchase the replacement cruiser came from an insurance claim following the accident.

Lancaster said the new cruiser for the Madison Division is part of the normal budget cycle.

The former Madison Police Department was absorbed by the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office in 2015 at a cost savings for the town, but there is still a separation between the two with the town paying the county to cover all policing services, including training costs.


There were a variety of reasons for the savings officials said at the time, including that the Madison Division of the sheriff’s office had an entirely new police force when it transitioned from the Madison Police Department. When voters opted to consolidate the two in the summer of 2015, all Madison officers became employees of the sheriff’s office. However, four of the five retired or left for other jobs and one officer did not make it through a probationary period as a sheriff’s office employee.

The division operates out of the former Madison police station on Weston Avenue, and the station remains open to the public during business hours. The cost savings of contracting with the sheriff’s department came through the elimination of salary and benefits for a police chief and changes in salaries and benefits for officers, Lancaster said in 2015. He said Madison patrol officers’ pay would not be cut and that the savings would come mostly from reduced insurance costs.

“The advantage of having officers right in your community is that it’s a deterrent to crime, there’s a quicker response and the officers are part of the community,” Lancaster said in 2015. “We patrol the rest of the county, and sometimes it takes a few minutes to get to a call.”

In voting by county commissioners Wednesday, Newell Graf, of Skowhegan, was reappointed chairman of the five-member board and Lloyd Trafton, of West Forks, was reappointed as vice-chairman.

In response to a question about Kennebec County commissioners’ concern over anticipated marijuana regulation costs, including the services of a drug recognition expert to help establish if a driver is operating under the influence of an intoxicating substance, Lancaster said Somerset County already has a trained drug recognition expert, Deputy Joe Jackson, and will lobby for more.

“I share their concerns, the commissioners of Kennebec’s concerns,” Lancaster said. “I am planning and budgeting for additional DREs and additional training because right now there is no Breathalyzer or easy test for detecting THC level in your blood stream.”

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]


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