ELLSWORTH, Maine — In the 18 months since Hancock County officials created the position, the county has hired its second county administrator.
Scott Adkins, Milford’s town manager, was picked for the county post in mid-March. He already has attended two Hancock County commissioner meetings but is not expected to start in his new position full time until Monday, May 16, according to Hancock County Clerk Cynthia DePrenger.
Adkins’ salary will be $75,000 per year, DePrenger said Monday. He lives in Charleston, according to information posted on the county’s website.
Prior to taking the Milford job last September, Adkins worked for eight years as finance director for Penobscot County.
Adkins replaces Eugene Conlogue, who was hired in January 2015 to fill the then-new position of county administrator, but departed this past February. Conlogue, who has held town manager positions in Millinocket and Houlton, and Hancock County commissioners each have said that he left the post by mutual agreement.
When Conlogue left, Hancock County commissioners indicated that they wanted to hire someone with a strong financial management background.
Contacted Tuesday, Adkins said that when he accepted the Milford job last fall, he thought he would serve in that post for a longer period than he has. He had applied for the Hancock County position early last year, but decided for personal reasons that the timing wasn’t right for him to take the job.
“I think both [Milford selectmen and I] knew it wouldn’t be forever,” Adkins said of his town manager gig. “County government comes more natural to me.”
Steve Joy, chairman of the Hancock County commission, said Wednesday that in addition to having been Penobscot County’s finance director, Adkins also served as a financial advisor to the now-defunct state Board of Corrections. Jail funding has been “an issue for every county,” Joy said, so Adkins’ familiarity with the state jail funding system should prove beneficial.
Joy said Adkins’ experience in Milford is expected to be helpful to the county’s efforts to find ways to consolidate some existing municipal services — assessing, animal control and code enforcement have been cited as possible examples — under county control, which would make them more cost-efficient.
The first thing commissioners want Adkins to do, Joy said, is to help resolve the county’s 2015 budget. Complications last fall created by the departure of former Chief Financial Officer Phil Roy, and by a glitch in the county’s accounting software, delayed development and approval of the county’s 2016 operations budget.
Joy said that because the county was unsure of its 2015 budget surplus at the end of the year, it budgeted $450,000 in community benefits funds generated by the Bull Hill Wind turbine farm in Township 16 to offset expenses in the 2016 budget. Once the 2015 end-of-year surplus can be identified, he said, it should free up some of the community benefit funds for other purposes.
“He really has the strengths that we need,” Joy said of Adkins. “He’s going to be a great asset for Hancock County.”
Adkins said he and his family plan to remain in Charleston for at least a year while his younger daughter finishes her senior year at Foxcroft Academy. After that, he and his wife likely will move closer to Ellsworth.
“We love the area, my family and I,” Adkins said of Hancock County. “We’ve spent a lot of time camping at Lamoine State Park.”
He added that he will continue to lend assistance to Milford to ease the transition between him leaving and Carrie Smart, who has been named interim town manager, picking up the reins. He said Milford selectmen have been “gracious” in allowing him to spend a couple of days getting acclimated at the Hancock County courthouse in Ellsworth, and he wants to help Milford prepare for its annual town meeting, which is coming up on Saturday, May 21.