Commissioners Regular Meeting

Commissioner Kenneth R. Shea called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 18, 2008in the conference room at the County Courthouse in Ellsworth.

Adjustments to the Agenda:

MOTION: move to add item 3-d, a memorandum of agreement with FAA. (Lawson/Shea 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to add item 6-c, request for leave of absence from Jason McFarland. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Retiree, Timothy McNeal addressed the commissioners regarding his health insurance buy-out agreement made in January 2006.

  • In a letter dated January 14, 2006, Mr. McNeal requested the county pay him a reduced monthly premium of $420.00 a month, to defray the cost of additional deductibles and premium for the health insurance provided by his current employer provided health insurance.  His understanding was that when he reached the age of 55 he would become eligible to re-join the county health insurance policy.  Mr. McNeal stated that as part of his retirement agreement, he would be provided health insurance comparable to that of the sheriff’s employees.  Mr. McNeal stated his intention was to save the county money.
  • Commissioner Lawson referred to Mr. McNeal’s letter of January 14, 2006 and stated, on January 20, 2006 the commissioners agreed to pay Mr. McNeal a health insurance buy-out of $420.00 per month, as requested.  She advised Mr. McNeal that in his situation, the buy-out is not a reversible decision.
  • Commissioner Shea explained that the current county clerk and he were advised by the health trust, that once a retiree discontinues his or her relationship with the health trust, that person is not able to return.  This is a health trust policy.  Mr. McNeal felt certain the former county clerk told him he would be allowed to go back on the MMEHT policy at age 55.  Commissioner Lawson stated, unfortunately the person who told Mr. McNeal this was misinformed.
  • Commissioner Shea stated the county did not budget for Mr. McNeal’s requested change in the FY08 budget.  Commissioner Lawson explained that Mr. McNeal would still receive his monthly $420.00 health insurance buy-out.
  • Commissioner Brown stated that in January 2000 a motion was made to provide Mr. McNeal with health insurance for his lifetime at a single subscriber rate.  Mr. McNeal asked for and was granted a $420.00 buy-out in January 2006 therefore reverting his health insurance, single subscriber coverage, to a buy-out.  Mr. McNeal stated he was never advised he could not return to the county’s health insurance policy and he has never received coverage similar to that of the sheriff’s employees.
  • Commissioner Shea stated that unless he receives a motion, the agreement would stand.  Commissioner Shea called for a motion, none was made.  Mr. McNeal stated that this was part of his severance package and that the discussion today would allow him to open up the whole severance package.


MOTION: move to approve the minutes of the February 11, 2008 commissioners regular meeting. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)


  • The Emergency Management Agency monthly report was submitted prior to the meeting.  Director Pinkham reported on the interoperability communications grant proposal.  This grant will include a 20% match on equipment.  Training will be paid by the grant at 100% including a radio 101 course.
  • The grant budget will be discussed by EMA, the RCC and other centers within the county.  Director Pinkham would like to include enough equipment and frequencies to back up other centers throughout the county.  He is hoping for $100,000.00 grant, which would include a 4th station for the RCC.
  • The timetable to submit the grant proposal has not been established yet.  Funds may become available around September 2008; preparation of the proposal will begin within the next few months.
  • There are currently 3 repeaters in the county.  The firefighters association is hoping for a 4th repeater near Rt. 9.  Director Dunno stated that Southwest Harbor is hoping to add more frequencies to their system.
  • Director Pinkham explained that if a town dispatch center went down, their employee would come to Hancock County and dispatch from the RCC.
  • Commissioner Brown felt the 1st item of importance was updating the portable unit.  The 2nd item of importance was the understanding that the RCC would become the back-up if a situation happened,
  • Director Pinkham stated everyone would have to be NIMS compliant or there will be no funds.  All centers are currently in compliance except Southwest Harbor.  In order for Southwest Harbor to become NIMS compliant, Tremont would have to become compliant.  They are making an effort to reach that goal.
  • Commissioner Shea suggested writing a letter to each town currently not NIMS compliant expressing the commissioners concern with the potential loss of funding.
  • A draft SOP is being worked on regarding the newly installed panic buttons.  Training for employees will be included in the SOP.  Pinkham felt the panic buttons should only be used in a life-threatening situation that involves hostile force.  Buttons should not be used in medical emergencies.
  • Commissioner Lawson would like to see important highlights included in the EMA monthly report.
  • Director Pinkham reported that 35-36 representatives attended the quarterly meeting of the LEPC.


MOTION: move to extend the Island Soaring lease for one year, with the intention to negotiate a new lease by October 2008. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

  • Airport Manager Cossette apprised the commissioners of the situation regarding the airport entrance road relocation project.  The Maine DOT has abandoned the Route 3 – Route 230 intersection project for 2008 and it is unlikely that it will be brought up again.  Cossette suggested relocating southerly to Harding Way.
  • The airport will not receive any construction funds for 2008.  Funds will be available in 2009.  The timetable for construction submission is May 2008.
  • Current projects include: finishing the environmental permitting for EPA, relocating the existing localizing antenna, completing the safety area project, purchasing sanding equipment and scoping the work for land acquisition in runway 22 area in 2010.
  • Airport Manager Cossette stated pavement marking has to be redone on runway 4 and 22.
  • The new antenna system does not include a back course approach.  A GPS system is currently being installed in antenna systems.  As a benefit to purchasing this antenna system, the entrance road may not need to be moved.
  • Colgan Air has not commented on removing seats from the Saab 340.  Pinnacle Airlines has scheduled a meeting with the governor on April 9th regarding Saab service to Maine.
  • The FAA would like the airport to redo its threshold marking as soon as possible.  The cost is approximately $40,000.00 to $45,000.00 and the airport will be eligible for federal funding in May.  Airport Manager Cossette requested the commissioners allow him to go out to bid and pay for this item with airport funds and be reimbursed with federal funds when they become available.

MOTION: move to proceed with the airport makings project, with the understanding that the airport would be fronting the cost and be reimbursed through FAA grant funding when it becomes available. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to authorize the Airport Manager to sign a memorandum of understanding with the FAA regarding the location of a navigational aid on the airport. (Shea/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)


  • Treasurer Crowley stated she will be discussing TAN preparation with District Attorney Povich.

The following warrants were presented for commission approval:

MOTION: move to approve payroll warrants #08-06, #08-07, #08-08 and #08-09 in the amount of $266,002.04. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to approve expense warrants #008-005, #008-006, #008-007 and #008-008 in the amount of $629,731.24. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to approve UT warrant #9 in the amount of $18,647.14. (Lawson/Shea 3-0, motion passed)

  • Treasurer Crowley presented the commissioners with a Reserve Account Management Policy for approval.
  • Commissioner Brown questioned weather remaining funds should lapse into surplus.  He questioned whether reserve account funds should be carried forward or put into surplus.  Treasurer Crowley explained that it is up to the commissioners to carry-forward funds in specific accounts.

MOTION: move to approve the Reserve Account Management Policy as presented. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to approve a funds transfer for the sheriff’s office, in the amount of $1,544.33 from account E12-70-300 to account E10-020-005. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

10:46 a.m.: Recess
11:10 a.m.: back in session

RCC 9-1-1:

  • Director Dunno submitted the RCC/9-1-1 monthly report prior to the meeting.  Director Dunno presented the commissioners with reports from the recorder, the 9-1-1 system and CAD system.  She is working to streamline her reporting process.  She noted 1009 calls were handled on the 9-1-1 system in January 2008.
  • Bob Gaspar has estimated that there would be approximately 3200 cellular phone calls received by the Hancock County 9-1-1 system, per year.
  • Commissioner Shea asked if data would be available per town by the end of the year.  The answer was yes.
  • Commissioner Brown stated that reimbursement of expenses has been considered for dispatchers similar to the way law enforcement officers are reimbursed upon changing from one law enforcement entity to another.

MOTION: move the administrative removal of dispatchers Sharon Riffel, John Shoppe, Susannah Stanton, Carrie Jodrie and Venetia Warren, from the Hancock County employment roll. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Commissioner Shea noted that Mr. McFarland would not be eligible for health insurance until open enrollment in December.
  • Director Dunno discussed the purchase of a headset for an employee out on medical leave.  Commissioner Shea asked if the county workers comp policy would cover the purchase of a headset.

MOTION: move to approve a leave of absence for dispatcher, Jason McFarland effective May 9, 2008 through September 5, 2008 and to authorize the Director to promote dispatcher Freda Moore to a temporary full-time status during this time. (Brown/Shea 3-0, motion passed)


  • Sheriff Clark distributed the jail board report for February 2008 and reported that income is down.
  • Commissioner Shea updated the Sheriff regarding the current jail take over status.
  • Commissioner Brown was concerned that Maine Municipal Association has not notified the towns of the jail situation.
  • Commissioner Shea felt the worst-case scenario would be for the state to walk away from negotiations and take away community corrections funding.  Commissioner Brown agreed but included the scenario that the state might also take away our ability to board prisoners.
  • Sheriff Clark presented the following bid responses from Downeast Toyota and Morrison Chevrolet.  He stated the priority was a comfortable ride but the commissioners were looking for increased gas mileage.

Downeast Toyota:  2008 RAV-4 $24,128.00 minus $10,000.00 trade-in = $14,377.00
Morrison Chevrolet:  2008 Trailblazer $22,995.00 minus $10,813.00 trade-in = $12,182.00
(This vehicle currently has 9200 miles on the odometer.)

  • Sheriff Clark suggested the purchase of the 2008 Trailblazer from Morrison Chevrolet and putting the approximate $3,000.00 difference in the gas account.
  • Commissioner Shea stated the RAV 4 had the highest rating in consumer reports.
  • Commissioner Brown questioned the mileage / use of the RAV 4.

MOTION: move to accept the bid from Morrison Chevrolet for a 2008 Trailblazer in the amount of $12,182.00. (Lawson/ died for lack of 2nd)

  • Sheriff Clark distributed a spreadsheet comparing all the vehicles and requested the compromise purchase of the Dodge Nitro.
  • Commissioner Brown stated he researched the RAV 4, the wheel base is greater than the Dodge.  He stated the gas mileage is superior to the other bids and the convenience in getting in and out is much better.
  • Commissioner Lawson wondered whether the commissioners should be considering the employee’s special needs or gas mileage.

MOTION: move to approve the purchase of a 2008 Toyota RAV 4 in the amount of $14,377.00. (Brown/Shea 2-1, motion passed, Lawson opposed)

Discussion: Commissioner Shea would like to see the difference in the 4 cylinder verses the 6 cylinder.

MOTION: move to accept the resignation of Corrections Officer, Daniel Harland, effective March 17, 2008. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: move to promote Robert Courtot of Brooklin from part-time to full-time corrections officer effective March 22, 2008 at Step 9-A, $13.60 per hour. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

12: 30 p.m.: Recess
1:07 p.m.: Back in session

1:00 p.m.: Tax Appeal Hearing - Shubert v. the Town of Surry
Commissioner Shea called the tax appeal hearing of Shubert v. the Town of Surry to order at
1:09 p.m.  Participants were sworn in and testimony was taken.

2:10 p.m.: Commissioner Shea declared the hearing closed.  Testimony ceased. Deliberations followed.


Commissioner Brown expressed his concern with how the wetlands were treated in each lot on the whole peninsula.  It appeared that the town did not take that into consideration the valuations. In looking at the properties, lot 27-1 had the least wetlands, in looking at the methodology the town used in computing the tax, he felt the town was consistent in what they used for the base lot on all four properties and the frontage and rear acre land assessments seem to be inline.  He stated that with what had been presented to him, he could see where the town has met their obligation to come up with a fair assessment of the property.  That being the case, he recommended that the appeal be denied.

Commissioner Shea stated that they should be considering the impact of wetlands on the valuations of all properties.  The town did not do so for any of the properties so it was not a factor in this case but it seems that if people have wetlands in the front acre or additional acreage that this should be taken into account because it had to have a negative impact on the value.  Commissioner Brown stated that they did not do it anywhere else.  Commissioner’s Lawson and Shea agreed that they did not do it anywhere else.

Commissioner Lawson agreed with Commissioner Shea especially in the front acreage, where it really makes a difference.  Commissioner Shea stated he very carefully asked the question and the town said they did not take this into account anywhere.  He stated from the land use standpoint, designated wetlands have a negative impact on the value of the property, set backs for putting in subsurface wastewater disposal systems are significant.  The vernal pool issue is huge.  If any one of these properties had a vernal pool on it, all four lots would be affected.

MOTION: Commissioner Brown stated that the town met its obligation in the methodology used in determining the base lot, frontage 1 and rear acreage lots and used the same computational method throughout all the places on the neck.  Also, given the recent sale of lot number 27-4, the assessment value of lot number 27-1 seems to be right in that ball park.  The commissioners found that the methodology applied to these calculations for lot 27-1 were identical to those applied elsewhere in the town.  The commissioners noted they found no evidence of discrimination in assigning base lot values for neighborhood sixteen and no errors intentional or otherwise, and no evidence of dishonesty in their computation. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Shea instructed Mrs. Shubert that she had the right to appeal the commission decision to Superior Court.

2:35 p.m.

MOTION: move to authorize the chairman to sign amended Maine Pre-Trial Services and Open Door Recovery Contracts. (Lawson/Shea 3-0, motion passed)

  • Commissioner Shea stated that a letter has been received from the Deferred Sentencing Project withdrawing their request for bridge funding.
  • Commissioner Shea stated that the promotion within MCCA to promote MACo has fallen apart.
  • The proposed MACo board would consist of an 11 member board with 5 or 6 commissioners.  The remaining seats would be filled by county officers.  Many counties will have no representation on the board.
  • Hancock County would be the 3rd largest contributor to the cost of MACo.  Other options have been discussed.
  • Commissioner Lawson questioned the necessity of creating MACo.  Commissioner Shea stated counties need to do a better job in presenting their position in the legislature.
  • Commissioner Shea felt MCCA should be sufficiently funded and should have a program that educates county officials similar to the program of MMA for town managers.
  • Commissioner Shea stated he would continue to oppose Hancock County getting involved in MACo and would like to see support increased for MCCA.  Commissioners Lawson and Brown agreed with Commissioner Shea’s assessment.

Commissioner Brown requested changing the April commissioner’s regular meeting date.  Availability dates will be submitted to the clerk for coordination.

 The commissioners suggested scheduling the grievance hearing initiated by Corrections Officer Brad Ewing for the April commissioner’s regular meeting at 11:00 a.m.

  • The Budget Advisory Committee requested that the commissioners devise an Elected/Exempt Employee Merit/COLA Policy.  Commissioner Shea suggested following the current wage scale for exempt/elected employees but step’s F thru J would be considered for a merit increase.
  • Increases in years one through five would consist of a COLA at 3% plus a merit raise of up to 3%, set by the commissioners.  Starting in year 6 there would be a 3% increase and COLA, in year 7 & 8 there would be a Merit increase.
  • Commissioner Lawson suggested that a policy be developed that stated, all exempt or elected employees may be eligible for a merit increase each year, up to 3%.

Commissioner Shea suggested tabling the discussion for another day.

MOTION: move to appoint Cynthia Kimball of Orland as commission representative to the Washington Hancock Community Agency Board of Directors. (Shea/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

  • Commissioner Brown suggested that agencies who wish to suggest appointments by the commissioners send a resumé for suggested appointees.  The clerk was asked to compile a list of annual appointments by the commissioners.


MOTION: move approval of the contract Policy. (Lawson/Shea 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to table the 2008 health insurance Buy-Out/Buy-Down Policy with addendum. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Brown suggested scheduling workshops to update the personnel policy.  The commissioners will give the clerk availability dates for May.

Commissioner Brown suggested scheduling a RCC Board of Directors meeting to discuss night dispatching.

  • Commissioner Brown stated it could cost approximately $35,000.00 to dispatch for Bucksport.
  • Director Dunno stated she needed more specific information in order to produce hard figures for night dispatching.  There have been no towns requesting night dispatching services.
  • Commissioner Shea would like to call a joint meeting of the county commissioners and the RCC Board of Directors to discuss making the RCC services available for night dispatching.  He would like to update them on the proposed grant and present information on providing a one-shift service to them.  Southwest Harbor should also be invited to the meeting.

4:05 p.m.

MOTION: move to adjourn. (Brown/Shea 2-0,)

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