A group of newly-elected state representatives from Waldo County towns met with the Waldo County commissioners Tuesday, Dec, 14, as part of a county-initiated effort to inform legislators about the issues facing the county government.

State Reps. James Gillway (Dist. 41), Ryan Harmon (Dist. 45), Peter Rioux (Dist. 42) and State Sen. Michael Thibodeau (Dist. 23) attended the meeting, which focused on two related topics: problems regarding the 2009 consolidation of county and state corrections facilities, and inefficiencies in the court system.

Reps. Andrew O’Brien (Dist. 44) and Erin Herbig (Dist. 43), the county’s two Democratic state representatives, were not in attendance. O’Brien said later that he had been invited but was unable to attend. Herbig said she never received an invitation and subsequently contacted the office of the county commissioners.

On Tuesday, the commissioners expressed frustration that the state had delayed payment to some of the larger jails during the fourth quarter of 2010, a move that Waldo County Treasurer David Parkman described as an accounting trick to allow the state to claim a balanced budget at the end of the fiscal year.

Commissioner Amy Fowler said though many have expressed disgust with the consolidation, it would be hard for Waldo County to go back, given the amount of effort that has gone into converting the old jail to a re-entry center as part of the consolidation.

The Maine Coastal Regional Reentry Center costs less to operate than the county’s capped $2.8 million contribution to the consolidated system — roughly $900,000 goes back to the state to be distributed to larger facilities — meaning MCRRC is not relying on payments from the state.

But Fowler said Waldo County, which has no long-term jail cells, is dependent upon other facilities in the six county corrections region.

“If they fail in Two Bridges [Regional Jail in Wiscasset], it’s not Sagadahoc County’s problem, it’s ours,” she said.

Several of the state representatives commiserated, including Gillway, the former police chief of Searsport, who said he recalled similar problems in receiving money from the state prior to the consolidation.

In a related matter, the commissioners explained that under the consolidated system inmates who would previously have been housed in Belfast between court appearances now must be shuttled to and from facilities in other counties, causing transportation issues.

The commissioners went on to paint a picture of a log-jammed court system with police taken off the roads to make court appearances. This appeared to pique the interest of several of the representatives at Tuesday’s meeting, but no concrete plans were made.

Other issues raised by county officials included the lawsuit by a private company, MacImage of Maine, to gain access to the electronic contents of the county’s registry of deeds, and the status of the Waldo County Regional Communications Center as a 911 call center.

According to one county official, MacImage has dropped Waldo County from its lawsuit, but the issue could arise again. Meanwhile, the Communications Center appears to have withstood the state’s consolidation of 911 centers.

Also in attendance at Tuesday’s meeting was Betty Johnson, who was elected to the District 1 seat on the County Commission and will replace Chairman Donald Berry in January 2011.