Maine Bankers Try to Block an Institution's Expansion

Article excerpt

Bankers are trying to stop a Maine credit union from expanding its customer base to include 16 communities in the southern part of the state.

Saco Valley Federal Credit Union is trying to widen its reach to scattered towns in York County, including towns more than 25 miles apart.

Bankers are objecting, claiming the expansion does not constitute a "well-defined community," as field of membership rules require.

The bankers will argue their case before Maine Banking Commissioner H. Donald DeMatteis at a hearing June 22.

The Maine Bankers Association is being supported by the Independent Community Bankers Association of Maine and the Community Bankers Association.

"Our contention is that there is a very limited relationship between people who live in these areas and Saco," said Joseph J. Pietroski Jr., executive director of the Maine Bankers Association. "There's no lack of financial services in those communities and I don't know what the justification is."

Carrie Shaw, manager of Saco Valley, would not comment on the application or claims that the credit union's expansion plans are illegal. As of Dec. 31, 1993, the credit union had $14.8 millions in assets.

Seeking State Charter

Saco Valley's expansion bid is part of its application to switch to a state charter, which is why the hearing is at the state level, Mr. DeMatteis said.

The credit union wants to switch charters because Maine's field of membership regulations are more liberal than federal laws, he said.

Maine state credit unions can combine community-based and occupational fields of membership. Federal credit union rules prohibit such mixed charters.

Also, expansions are easier in Maine because the growing instutition does not need the consent of competing credit unions. …