HOULTON, Maine (AP) — Maine Revenue Services is closing its office in Houlton and consolidating operations in Augusta, leaving 11 state workers without jobs, officials said Thursday.
Department of Administrative and Financial Services Commissioner Sawin Millett made the decision to save $900,000 over the two-year budget cycle. The work will be done by five people in Augusta, and the 11 displaced workers will have first dibs on those jobs, said his spokeswoman, Jennifer Smith.
Senate Majority Leader Troy Jackson of Allagash criticized the decision, saying the state has tried to close the office before only to discover it’s more efficient to keep it open.
‘‘Closing the office will further isolate and disconnect rural Maine and Aroostook County from needed services. This seems to be nothing more than the governor continuing to target rural Maine,’’ said Jackson, a Democrat who has clashed previously with Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
Smith said LePage wasn’t part of the decision-making process.
With the Houlton office’s lease up for renewal, the head of Maine Revenue Services and the state tax assessor approached Millett about closing the office, Smith said. Millett agreed with them, she said.
It didn’t make sense to renew the lease because the Houlton facility lacks the security of the Augusta headquarters, which can handle the job with fewer workers, she said.