Commissioners Regular Meeting
Commissioner Shea called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 13, 2007in the conference room at the County Courthouse in Ellsworth with Commissioners Brown and Lawson in attendance.
8:00 a.m. Executive Session: Airport Negotiations with Colgan Air
MOTION: move to go into executive session to discuss Airport Negotiations regarding Colgan Air. (Brown/Shea 2-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to come out of executive session. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
8:55 a.m. 5-minute recess
9:00 a.m. Discussion: Dennis Burnett of Colgan Air
- Commissioner Shea began by asking what the county could do in cooperation with Colgan air to increase enplanements at the Hancock County / Bar Harbor Airport. He also asked for an update regarding the sale of Colgan Air to Pinnacle Airlines and how it will affect day to day operations. Mary Finnegan of Colgan Air responded by stating Pinnacle Airlines is a Corporation, by joining Pinnacle it will allow Colgan Air to grow. She explained that the reason Colgan Air chose Pinnacle Airlines was because of their past friendship/relationship with the owner. She also reported that Pinnacle has kept their end of the bargain with regards to retaining Colgan Air employees.
- Mr. Burnett stated that in looking at the numbers, service patterns are meeting the needs of the community and that service to Boston has done well. He distributed up to date schedules for May and June and explained their plan to stimulate fares and create community interest by word of mouth. He reported that the Hancock County / Bar Harbor Airport is “barley below” the trend line, and that Pinnacle Airlines is interested in different avenues in promoting the airport such as service patterns, pricing patterns, community word of mouth advertising etc.
- Commissioner Shea asked Mr. Burnett to explain their method in fare pricing. Mr. Burnett stated that they have lowered the point to point fare from Bar Harbor to Boston to $155.15 one-way; this includes unrestricted walk-ups and is a reduction of $15.00.
- Mr. Burnett stated that Pinnacle Airlines has an arrangement with Northwest Airlines for connection service. Colgan/Pinnacle pilots are non-union, Northwest pilots have unionized.
- Commissioner Shea stated that most of the complaints received regard pricing and referenced a letter to the local newspaper stating it was worth it to drive to Rockland!! Ms. Finnegan explained that Rockland fares are priced off of Portland Jet Port and Bar Harbor fares are priced off of Bangor International. She reported that the average ticket price has gone up $10.00 over the past two years. Commissioner Shea questioned why the fare from Maine to Orlando is approximately $200.00 higher to fly out of Bar Harbor than Bangor International.
- Mr. Cossette stated that his biggest concern was the cost of fares and marketing. He recently searched three of the online websites to compare pricing and and found different fares. He asked if it was possible to keep the pricing out of Bar Harbor a few dollars over the cost of flying out of Bangor. Ms. Finnegan stated weekly fare comparisons have been done in the past; they will begin this practice again. The threshold for fare increases from Bar Harbor over Bangor International is usually $40.00. Ms. Finnegan stated that fares will be priced consistently with Bangor.
- Ms. Finnegan questioned the Commissioners as to what they think Pinnacle should be doing with regard to marketing. Mr. Burnett suggested going to local area Chambers of Commerce and assessing how they target tourist. He stated, in this instance, he would be “going back to his roots” as he specializes in small community development. He will be checking his files for ideas and get back to Mr. Cossette in about a week. Added focus will be given to this issue. Commissioner Shea suggested package advertising to include car rental services. Mr. Burnett assured the attendees that more emphasis will be put on marketing.
- Commissioner Lawson asked about long term plans for the airport. Ms. Finnegan assured the Commissioners that Pinnacle Airlines will be at the Hancock County / Bar Harbor Airport for a long time, and that her family will remain and run the airline. Ms. Finnegan explained it is no longer practical for the airline to run three flights a day using the Beechcraft 1900 but added there are no immediate plans to retire them. She stated this is part of the 139 certification issue. Pinnacle is exploring a waiver to operate a 30 seat Saab, but stated they can not take 4 seats out of a Saab. She reiterated that Pinnacle has not said they are not getting rid of the 1900’s but added that “down the line, the 1900’s would go away.” Ms. Finnegan assured the Commissioners that when that happens, they will do everything they can to protect this market. It is an important market to Colgan/Pinnacle and they would like to keep it. Commissioner Lawson stated the County would need a lot of notice if Pinnacle decides to migrate to the 34 seat Saabs. No information is available at this time regarding this change in aircraft.
- Treasurer Crowley asked if they have considered flights between Bar Harbor and Manchester NH as many clients like to fly Southwest Airlines. Mr. Burnett explained that their routes are in smaller communities; noting that one of the things he has noticed is that Southwest Airlines does not accept their bags and are not user friendly. United Airlines is one of their major partners. There is a seamless transition between Pinnacle and United flights but added as Boston becomes more competitive, Southwest Airlines may become an option.
- Commissioner Shea asked how they would get the FAA to bump the limit up from 30 to 34. Mr. Burnett explained that Congress would have to make a change to the guidelines. He explained that 34 seats is the breakpoint, after that aircrafts tend to get larger.
- Mr. Cossette explained that Category 2 Certification affects on-call aircraft, charters and aircraft that do not fly on a schedule. A charter aircraft offers non-scheduled flights. A fractional owner is an aircraft owned and flown by an individual owner. The additional operation costs when changing from a Category 3 Certification to a Category 1 is approximately ¼ of a million dollars. Commissioner Shea asked if there were market studies available to let them know if this is financially viable. Airport Director Cossette will look into them. Mr. Burnett explained that customer acceptance is usually higher with larger airplanes that include restrooms and stewards.
- The Saab 30A model was briefly discussed. Ms. Finnegan stated that the performance area of the Saab 30A is lacking when compared to the 3400’s, she also explained that the majority of their fleet consists of Saab 3400’s.
- Ms. Finnegan ended discussions by stating her commitment to Hancock County will be to “get the fares on a standard matt table, $40.00 max above Bangor, and look at a marketing plan to stimulate traffic.” They will also give a lengthy notice before changing to the Saab 3400.
1:00 p.m. Beverage v. Town of Trenton Tax Appeal
Adjustments to the Agenda:
MOTION: move to add item 12-C, a proclamation regarding Public Safety Telecommunications Week. (Lawson/Brown 2-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to add item 1-C, an Executive Session to discuss Union Negotiations (Shea/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
a. Approve: Minutes of the February 13, 2007 Commissioners Regular Meeting.
MOTION: move to approve the minutes of February 13, 2007 as presented. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
b. Affirm: Authorization of County Clerk to send out Tax Warrants assessing the towns and Unorganized Places their portion of the county tax and affirmation of the interest rate on delinquent taxes.
MOTION: move to ratify that the County Clerk to sent out taxes based on the FY2007 budget adopted in December of 2006 in the amount of $5,025,350.00 and an overlay as authorized by law in the amount of $100,507.54 (2.0%) the whole county tax amounting to $5,125,857.54. (Brown/Shea 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to set interest on delinquent taxes at 7.75%. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
- Executive session to discuss Union Negotiations.
MOTION: move to go into executive session to discuss Union Negotiations. (Shea/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to come out of executive session. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
2. Emergency Management Agency:
a. Monthly Report
b. Affirm: the hiring of Brenda Breeding of Ellsworth as a part-time Clerk, effective February 24, 2007 at a rate of $12.00 per hour.
MOTION: move to affirm the hiring of Brenda Breeding of Ellsworth as a part-time Clerk in the Emergency Management Office, effective February 24, 2007 at a rate of $12.00 per hour. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
a. Approve: Monthly Bills and Warrants
Commissioner Shea objected to paying for furniture from the Civil Process Reserve account. He stated, this account was intended to build the Civil Process Office, not to purchase furniture. The cost of the furniture was $431.64. The Treasurer stated she would make a journal entry in order to pay the bill from an acceptable account. Commissioner Shea reminded the Commissioners that “we need to be very prudent with regard to spending out of Reserve Accounts.”
MOTION: move to approve Payroll Warrants #07-05, #07-06, #07-07 and #07-08 in the amount of $244,272.29. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to approve Expense Warrants #007-004, #007-005, #007-006, #007-007 and #007-008 in the amount of $430,911.46. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to approve the Unorganized Township Warrant #7 in the amount of $21,922.66. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
b. Reserve Fund Potential Carry-Forwards
Courthouse Technology Reserve $115,000.00
- Treasurer Crowley presented the Commissioners with spread sheets containing the following suggested potential carry-forwards for 20
County Building Renovations $201,771.00
RCC-Equipment Reserve $ 10,500.00
Jail-Repair Projects $ 25,000.00
Jail-Medical Payments Reserve $ 25,000.00
Sheriffs-Technology Reserve $ 3,000.00
Sheriffs-Civil Process Office Const, $ 11,000.00
Retiree Health Benefits $100,000.00
Treasurer Crowley reported that the Payroll Benefit Account does not require any additional funding for this year. She stated monies held in the Payroll Benefit Account are always more than our liability.
MOTION: move to approve the Treasurers 2007 suggested reserve fund carry-forwards as presented. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
AIP-19 $ 9,001.61
AP-P/R Benefit Reserve $ 20,000.00
TOTAL: $ 29,001.61
MOTION: move to approve the Treasurers suggested reserve fund carry-forwards for the Airport, as presented. (Brown/Lawson/3-0, motion passed)
Commissioner Brown asked about the Sheriff’s vehicle reserve accounts. Treasurer Crowley explained that the Town Contract Accounts and the Regular Vehicle Accounts have been combined due to the overdraft created by the purchase of the EMA vehicle. A spreadsheet was presented to show purchases and left over funds for 2006 and 2007. Funds are being received monthly from Town Contracts. Currently there is $40,984.06 in account 1-611-7345, there is $24,000.00 in account 1-612-7000.
c. TRIO progress report
- Deputy Treasurer, Renee Atwater reported that hardware and TRIO software has been installed in all Departments with the exception of the Airport. The Commissioners office staff has completed training and has been utilizing the system for approximately three months. Training in other departments will begin shortly. Emergency Management, the Commissioners Office, Probate and the Airport are currently using the TRIO numbering scheme.
a. Jail Board Report for February 2007
b. Signature: Criminal Forfeiture, State of Maine v. Adam P. Dyer
- Sheriff Clark presented the Commissioners with a copy of the February 2007 Jail Board Report. Income was down significantly when compared to prior years. He reported that in recent days, Superior Court has taken up most of the beds in the Jail. The ratio between pre-trial inmates and post-trial inmates vary from month to month.
- Commissioner Brown asked Sheriff Clark about the use of bio-metric cards.
- Commissioner Brown asked if the Sheriff has taken any action regarding the bill in the Legislature regarding consolidating jails. The Sheriff stated he would prefer to stay out of the discussion. The Hancock County jail could potentially become a sentence maintenance facility. The State would have one management team resulting in efficiency throughout the system. Politically, this would be a huge savings to the taxpayers of Hancock County. This would not have an effect on Sheriff Clark being a Constitutional Officer. Law would have to be changed to remove the “Sheriff” as the “keeper of the jail.” Sheriff Clark stated, “Technically, operationally and physically, this makes all the since in the world.” The Sheriff reported that Bob Howe feels the state has a much better chance passing this legislation now rather than in previous years.
MOTION: move to approve the Criminal Forfeiture of $400.00 in State of Maine v. Adam P. Dyer. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
c. Discussion: Penobscot County Jail Expansion Advisory Committee letter
- The Commissioners asked the Clerk to draft a letter to Penobscot County voicing their intentions to participate in discussions regarding exploring alternatives and opportunities regarding jail expansion.
- Review of Specifications for Sheriff’s AWD Vehicle
- Sheriff Clark explained that money presently exists to purchase a vehicle for Lt. Pat Kane. He would like to replace his current vehicle with a 4WD Sport Utility vehicle. The equipment needed to carry out the duties of his job can be very cumbersome and can not be carried in his current vehicle. This detains him from arriving on scenes in a timely manner. Deputy Kane has done approximately a dozen accident scene mappings. Equipment carried includes the mapping station, 2 tripods, poles, prisms and lights. The system tends to be temperamental to cold weather. Commissioner Shea stated he does not have a difficult time carrying his system in his truck. Deputy Kane carries the same equipment plus additional law enforcement equipment. Chief Deputy Bishop and Detective Alan Brown currently drive Ford Expeditions, the County also owns a Chevrolet Tahoe. Commissioner Shea suggested having Lt. Kane and Chief Deputy Bishop swap vehicles.
- Sheriff Clark stated the main reason for trading in the vehicle is to keep the mileage under 100,000.
- Lt. Kane also stated computers are being added to cruisers, installation will begin in two weeks.
- Commissioner Lawson asked if Deputy Kane has looked for a new vehicle. The answer was yes. Sheriff Clark explained that offers will be open to all dealers within the County. Commissioner Shea stated he would prefer to wait another year.
- Commissioner Brown was concerned with the reduction in the reserve account. A 2001 Ford Pickup will be used as the trade-in vehicle. There is currently $40,000.00 in the regular cruiser reserve account. $24,000.00 is currently in the 612-7000 account.
- Commissioner Brown stated he would support the purchase of a new vehicle as long as bid procedures were followed. Lt. Kane distributed specifications for a full size SUV Police Services Vehicle. Commissioner Shea suggested adding a heavy duty trailer package. Lt. did not feel it was necessary.
MOTION: move to put the purchase of a 2007 Full Size SUV Police Services Vehicle out to bid utilizing normal bid procedures. (Brown/Lawson 2-1, motion passed) Shea opposed.
6. Courthouse Complex
- Courthouse security at night
- Maintenance Supervisor Richard Davis reported that meetings’ held after 4:00 p.m. has been causing undue security issues for the courthouse maintenance staff. Commissioner Shea stated that Dr. Dimond of the Deferred Sentencing Program has sent a letter of apology assuring the parties involved that the security breech will not happen again. Mr. Davis stated that breaches have occurred on four different occasions.
- Mr. Davis requested that the door adjacent to the Commissioners Meeting Room be locked while conducting meetings after hours.
- Commissioner Brown stated he was not comfortable with the current situation and requested Mr. Davis to seek professional help from Chief Deputy Dick Bishop in finding a solution to this problem.
- Commissioner Shea stated Dr. Richard Dimond can supervise his clients entering and exiting the building. He felt there were two specific issues, 1) the Deferred Sentencing issue and 2) meetings being held after regular business hours. Meeting attendees should be notified that the doors will be locked after hours.
- Commissioner Brown suggested using swipe cards for entering and exiting the building. District Attorney Povich suggested placing a swag in front of the door opening with a sign stating “authorized persons only.” Commissioner Shea directed Mr. Davis to consult with Chief Deputy Bishop regarding security options.
7. District Attorney
a. Personnel Issue: 1) Continuation of weekly check (rather than a lump sum) until sick time and any accrued vacation is used after June 1. 2) Working three days a week until the end of year in a part-time temporary position. 3) Starting a new employee on April 30th.
District Attorney Povich distributed a printout laying out his proposal to retire Rosemary Campbell in a temporary, part-time position for 30 weeks following her retirement. The new Administrative Assistant position would make $15.12 per hour for 30 weeks. The new hire would begin working after Rosemary officially resigns. Commissioner Brown asked if we would be creating a new position. The answer was no. Rosemary would formally retire on June 1, 2007; the new hire would begin work June 4th
MOTION: move to approve the request of the District Attorney to retain Rosemary Campbell as a part-time temporary employee following her official retirement. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
Treasurer Crowley questioned if we are going to pay Ms. Campbell on a part-time basis while sick leave pay, she asked if this would that create a legal issue. Commissioner Shea suggested Rosemary and Sally work together with regard to her question.
- b. Approve job description for regular part-time position
MOTION: move that the job description for a regular part-time Secretarial position in the District Attorneys Office be approved as presented with the exception to number 3, Accepts restitution payments when needed. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
District Attorney Povich requested permission to attend the National District Attorneys Conference in Portland Oregon. Permission was granted.
8. Unorganized Territory:
a. Monthly Report
9. New Business:
- No report was presented.
10. Old Business:
a. Deliberations: Jacobs v. Town of Brooksville
Commissioner Lawson began deliberations by stating that she did not receive all the information requested in her prior motion. The Commissioners agreed that they will not consider information received from the Town of Brooksville due to the lateness in receiving the information.
- Commissioner Lawson stated that everyone agreed that in using the methodology that the assessors used, the land value on the card, $845,500.00 was correct. The Commissioners agreed that the same methodology was used on all properties and computations were all done is a very consistent manner. Commissioner Shea stated that if you take into account the computations by ? all the properties in section 18 are overvalued. Commissioner Shea questioned where an evaluation has been done in section 17 to indicate that their value is significantly different from the town.
- Commissioner Lawson did not understand the request for abatement. Commissioner Shea noted that one of the properties used in the original presentation was in section 9 not 17. The Town was reevaluated in April 2006. The Jacobs property increase after the evaluation was less then their neighbors. The land is valued at $825,500.00.
- Commissioner Shea felt the town did not use an inconsistent methodology in evaluating the property and did not discriminate.
- Commissioner Brown stated that when the property points outward, the boarder is used for measuring the property, when the property has an inconsistent boarder, a straight line is used. He felt the Town of Brooksville used a consistent methodology in formulating their assessment.
- Commissioner Shea stated the Jacobs abatement request does not differentiate between buildings and land value. They believe their total assessment is off by $214,000.00. Commissioner Lawson felt the assessment for the building and land was not inconsistent.
- Mr. Jacobs voiced his agreement that the Commissioners were correct in their assessment that the properties in section 17 were consistently valued incorrectly.
MOTION: move that we sustain the evaluation that the town has made. We found no inconsistencies in the computations and that they were uniformly applied. It was also sustained for reasons stated in the record. We found that the taxpayer did not prove that the assessment was “manifestly wrong.” The taxpayer did not demonstrate that the property was substantially overvalued; that there was unjust discrimination or that the assessment was fraudulent, dishonest or illegal. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
b. Further Fact Finding: Richardson v. Town of Trenton
Judge Patterson reported to the Clerk, earlier in the meeting, that the Richardson case has been resolved, therefore canceling the need for further fact finding.
Beverage v. the Town of Trenton
Commissioner Shea called the Hearing to order at 1:05 p.m. and swore in the participating parties. Testimony was taken from the property owner Katherine Beverage. Gary Geaghan spoke on behalf of the Town of Trenton. Commissioner Lawson felt that the parties did not present enough information for the Commissioners to make an informed decision. She suggested reconvening at a later date. The Hearing was recessed and will be rescheduled for the Commissioners Regular Meeting on May 14, 2007.
11. County Clerk:
a. Discussion: Appointed Exempt Employee Policy
MOTION: move to approve the Appointed Exempt Employee Policy with punctuation corrections. (Brown/Shea 3-0, motion passed)
12. RCC 9-1-1
a. Monthly Report
- Director Dunno submitted her monthly report via Internet prior to the meeting. The Commissioners opposed the $265.00 monthly additional telephone charge from Verizon for the new contract and instructed the Director to write a letter noting their opposition.
MOTION: move to recommend that the RCC Director send Verizon a letter noting their opposition to the $265.00 additional monthly bill. (Brown/Shea 3-0, motion passed)
Commissioner Brown discussed the new Standards for establishing a statewide enhanced 9-1-1 system. He was concerned about open access to the E9-1-1 Center. He felt access to the center should be restricted and that a locked door should exist between the Sheriff’s Department and the Dispatch Center. Commissioner Shea suggested the Director research the issue.
- Commissioner Lawson stated the thing that bothers her is all records are kept in open cabinets in the RCC. Commissioner Brown felt Dispatchers should not be handling warrants and that they should be handled in the Sheriff’s Department. “The only time you need a paper warrant is when you need to know how much bail is.”
- Commissioner Lawson stated that the Dispatchers tend to answer the phones as “Sheriff’s Department.” The tax payer is paying for most of the dispatch and the Sheriffs Department is still the biggest user of the Center. Commissioner Brown stated a lot of the dispatchers’ time is used for Sheriff’s Department business.
- Commissioner Shea suggested hiring a receptionist to handle Sheriff’s Department business rather than taking the dispatchers away from their duties.
- Commissioner Lawson stated that we should be billing towns according to usage. Commissioner Shea and Commissioner Brown agreed.
- State’s Network Update/Fee increase
- This item was not discussed.
MOTION: Commissioner Lawson proclaimed April 8th through the 15th as Public Safety Telecommunications Week. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: move to adjourn (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)