Tourtelotte departs as Piscataquis County manager

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Piscataquis County Manager Marilyn Tourtelotte and the county commissioners reached an agreement last week to terminate her employment, effective Oct. 15 at 4 p.m.
    The surprise announcement came after a short executive session with Tourtelotte, the county commissioners and attorney Erik Stumpfel.

    The vote was 2-1 with Chairman James Annis and Commissioner Eric Ward in favor and Commissioner Fred Trask opposed. Trask declined to comment on the reason for his opposition.
    The agreement includes a severance package of six months’ salary and “all health insurance, life insurance, other insurance benefits and retirement benefits” for the same period of time.
    Tourtelotte’s annual salary, according to the most-recent payroll warrant, was $67,184 and her employment contract was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31. An estimate of her insurance benefits was not readily available, but sources in county government estimate that the entire package could be worth as much as $50,000.
    Tourtelotte also agreed not to file any claims against the county “in connection with her employment or termination of employment.”
    In a letter of recommendation for Tourtelotte, commissioners listed her accomplishments during the past five-and-a-half years including overseeing the $5 million expansion of the county courthouse, reducing the unorganized territory (UT) summer roads budget by $155,000 per year, reducing the UT winter road maintenance cost by$20,000 annually and dropping the solid waste outlay in the UT by $131,000 per year.
    She was described as “conscientious, organized and a hard worker who has proved to be an asset to Piscataquis County during her tenure.”
    However, former county treasurer Gail Lynch disagreed. She told the Observer that Tourtelotte “took a dislike to me because I made some changes when I first went into office.” Lynch had 40 years of accounting experience and worked for the firm that did the county audit for five years.
    But she said that Tourtelotte’s office took over many of the treasurer’s functions “and finally did away with my department.”
    In December 2013, one year before her term was up, Lynch resigned “because the commissioners would not stand up to her. I have never been treated like this in my life.”
    Tourtelotte also clashed with District Attorney R. Christopher Almy a few times, most recently over a payroll issue. Almy said that one of his former employees put in a claim for time that they didn’t work and for vacation days that they weren’t authorized.
    Almy wrote a letter to Tourtelotte and the commissioners, stating that he would not approve the warrant “because it is incorrect.” However, the commissioners voted to accept it, 2-1, with Trask opposing the measure.
    Tourtelotte, who lives in Willimantic, was hired as county manager in 2008.
    She had previously worked for the Chewonki Foundation in Wiscasset, International Paper Company, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife as a game warden and as manager of the Allagash Wilderness Waterway.
    Tourtelotte also served as a commissioner of Maine’s Land Use Regulation Commission from 1994-99 and as chairwoman for three years. She was also on the Willimantic Board of Selectmen and Planning Board for a while.

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