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Commissioners Regular Meeting

Commissioner Percy L. Brown, Jr. called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, July 7, 2009, in the conference room at the county courthouse in Ellsworth, with Commissioners Joy and Lawson in attendance.

Adjustments to the Agenda:

MOTION: to add items 4f, approval of a credit card administrator. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to add items 4g, approval of capital account expenditures. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed.)

MOTION: to add item 7e, acknowledgement of the resignation of patrol deputy Jeff Turcotte, effective July 17, 2009. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to add item 7f, the promotion of Ben Astbury, effective July 18, 20009 at Step 12C. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

COMMISSIONERS:

MOTION: to approve the minutes of the June 2, 2009 commissioners’ regular meeting and June 8 and 26, 2009 commissioners’ special meeting. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the credit card policy as presented. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to accept a $1,000 donation from the Maine Registers of Deeds Association. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: It was not specified as to which law suit the donation was intended for.

MOTION: to approve the sheriff’s, chief deputy’s and deputies’ bonds. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY:

  • The intended use of “Go kits” was explained.
  • Commissioner Lawson stated that she would like to attend some EMA trainings. She will be notified to participate in one scheduled for September 19th and 20th.
  • Commissioner Joy asked about an estimate of damage due to recent rain storms. Director Pinkham stated that FEMA inspectors will be in the area tomorrow and Thursday. Once the state threshold for emergency relief has been reached, the county would qualify for federal emergency relief funds.
  • Deputy Director Linda Feury stated that in trying to qualify for her emergency management director application, a job description was needed.

MOTION: to approve the EMA director and deputy director job descriptions as presented. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • Director Pinkham stated that his department was successful in receiving grant funds to purchase P25 radios which were distributed among several towns and received grant funds to install a generator switch for the school in Sedgwick.
  • Statewide unified call-outs, frequencies and communication methods were briefly discussed.

AIRPORT:

  • Assistant airport manager, Allison Navia explained that the airport maintenance workers job description needed clarification. His actual duties have more to do with airport maintenance rather than fire fighting. Garcia scheduling was briefly discussed.
  • Commissioner Brown asked if the job description was written for the person currently filling the position. The answer was yes. Commissioner Brown stated that the description for the maintenance portion of the job description should be stressed.
  • Airport manager, Robert Cossette suggested that lead aircraft rescue fire fighter should be removed from the job title and the phrase, and all other duties assigned, should be added along with the example of scheduling of personnel.
  • Commissioner Joy suggested adding the words ARFF administrator to the job title.
  • With regard to the airport maintenance director job description, Commissioner Joy suggested adding the phrase, in the absence of the airport manager or assistant manager, the maintenance director will be responsible for the overall operation of the airport. The assistant manager should also be added to items #7 & #10.

MOTION: to table acceptance of the airport maintenance director and maintenance worker job descriptions until the August regular meeting. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Representatives Karen Frink and Woody Wilson of Hoyle, Tanner & Associates were in attendance to answer questions regarding the construction phase and administration contract proposal for the runway 4 safety area project. The total cost of this phase is $246,700.00. The design phase was briefly discussed.
  • Resident inspector fees for each project were discussed in length. It was understood that driving back and forth to work travel expenses will be removed and acknowledgement that this is a worst case scenario proposal was noted.

MOTION: to approve the construction phase of the proposal. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: a grant proposal has been submitted for this project; proposal submission has been approved by the commissioners and they are currently awaiting grant approval by the FAA. The project has been verbally approved; but paperwork has not been received. It is the highest item on the FAA’s list of priorities. Commissioner Brown stated that although he realizes this is something the commissioners planned on doing, but when he looks at $118 per hour and he sees so many people in Hancock County who are without work, it kind of catches on the way down.

MOTION: to authorize the chairman to execute a contract with Hoyle Tanner & Associates for the construction phase/engineering based on the previously approved motion. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • Airport manager Cossette gave a brief overview regarding the cost of airport vehicle insurance. He respectfully requested that the airport be assessed $2,000 for vehicle insurance in 2009 and requested a credit of $1,500.00 to the airport’s vehicle insurance account. The airport currently has two vehicles that are registered to drive on public roads.
  • CFO Philip Roy, stated that he had been contacted by the airport manager as to the increase in vehicle insurance. CFO Roy has contacted MCCA Risk Pool representative Malcolm Ulmer to arrive at our insurance calculations. He also requested an inspection. Mr. Ulmer will be distributing a list of airport assets for updating purposes in the near future. Mr. Ulmer stated to CFO Roy that $3,500.00 is a valid expense for coverage of a fire truck and that more than likely, the allocation to the airport will further increase.
  • Airport manager Cossette stated that if the cost were to increase, he would simply drop coverage for the fire truck.
  • Commissioner Joy stated that the airport will not drop its liability coverage for the fire truck under any circumstances. It is too great an asset not to be covered.
  • Commissioner Brown asked what the county liability would be if the fire truck was not covered. Airport manager Cossette stated the liability of an accident, if the vehicle were not covered, would be the cost of the damages and added that the Phoenix Aviation Underwriters liability policy does not include coverage of the fire truck. Currently, the fire truck is covered by the MCCA Risk Pool policy. Were it not for the MCCA policy we would not have coverage.
  • Airport assistant manager, Allison Navia recommended that the commissioners reactivate the airport advisory committee and requested the appointment of members.
  • Commissioner Brown stated he has been diligently looking for a representative from his district.
  • Commissioner Lawson proposed the appointment of Greg Johnson.

MOTION: to appoint Greg Johnson to the airport advisory committee. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the appointment of Leroy Muse and Barbara Bulter to the airport advisory committee. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to retain George Hopkins and Wilbur Saunders on the airport advisory committee. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • Airport assistant manager Navia presented an estimate from the Fish and Wildlife Service regarding a wildlife hazard assessment which, in the future, may be conducted in conjunction with the FAA and the USDA. Should the assessment reveal that the airport does in fact have a wildlife hazard,; a wildlife hazard management plan would be required. The average cost of said plan is approximately $50,000. Assistant airport manager Navia requested the commissioner’s approval to request a reallocation from the FAA of funds from AIP 26 to cover the cost of the final assessment.

MOTION: accept the USDA estimate for the wildlife hazard assessment. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: Commissioner Joy would like this expense to come from grant funds rather than county funds.

MOTION: to accept the resignation of Eugene Hersom as a full-time ARFF and to move him to a part-time ARFF position, effective July 11, 2009 at the rate of $12.00 per hour. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the promotion of Shawn McVay of Waltham as a full-time ARFF, effective July 11, 2009 at Step 8A, $12.99 per hour. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Commissioner Lawson asked if private enplanement were being reported on a regular basis. Two users are reporting regularly. Enplanements are up .031% so far this summer but down 20% for the year.

10:25 a.m. Break
10:30 a.m.: Back in session

SHERIFF:

MOTION: to accept the resignation of jail cook Betty Newell, effective July 3, 2009. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to accept the resignation of corrections officer April Hatch, effective June 30, 2009. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the promotion of part-time cook Natalie Walker to full-time cook, effective July 11, 2009 at Step 5C, $12.05 per hour. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the hire of Eben Richardson of Bar Harbor as an on call/as needed/part-time corrections officer, effective July 11, 2009 at the rate of $12.00 per hour. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to acknowledge the resignation of patrol deputy Jeff Turcotte of Ellsworth, effective July 17, 2009. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approve the promotion of Ben Astbury from part-time deputy to full-time patrol deputy, effective July 18, 2009 at Step 12C, $17.41 per hour. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Repayment for training cost of Mr. Astbury was discussed.

OFFICE OF FINANCIAL AFFAIRS:

  • Commissioner Brown questioned a bill for solid waste for the 2009-2010 Unorganized Territory fiscal year. CFO Roy explained that past practice has been to pay said bills in the previous year. Commissioner Joy suggested negotiating to pay these expenses o a quarterly basis.

MOTION: to approve payroll warrants #09-23, #09-24, #09-25 and #09-26 in the aggregate amount of $306,421.83. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve expense warrants #009-18, #009-19, and #009-20 in the aggregate amount of $1,194,202.85. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve Unorganized Territory warrant #12 in the amount of $5,803.96. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve Unorganized Territory warrant #13 in the amount of $6,960.00. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve a request to expend $1,200.00 from capital account E30-70-400 for repair of the jail fascia. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve a request to expend $29,318.40 from capital account E40-70-460 for the terminal building roof. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approve the expenditure of $382.70 for the monthly software cost of the TimeTrak system from account G1-3014-10. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)
Discussion: Commissioner Lawson felt the description of this item was incorrect.

MOTION: to approve a request to transfer $4,199.00 from account G1-3011-30 to account E10-70-175 for the purchase of three radar units. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the transfer of $1,277.63 from account E10-50-700 DARE to account E10-01-500 Overtime. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approval of a transfer request in the amount of $155.51 from account E10-50-430 UAD Planning Commission to account E10-01-500 Overtime. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • CFO Roy requested permission to enter into negotiations with Union Trust to obtain a TAN in the amount of $500,000.00, for approximately a two to three month period. TAN interest rates are currently running at 2 to 2.5%.
  • Commissioner Lawson preferred obtaining a credit line rather than a TAN. Commissioner Brown stated this was not a typical year with regard to tax income. He encouraged CFO Roy to look ahead and anticipate at least a 2 month delay in receiving tax obligations from the towns.
  • Commissioner Brown questioned using funds from the general fund to pay for airport projects, until their loan comes through. CFO Roy stated it was not unheard of to charge the airport nominal interest in paying the county back loaned funds. Commissioner Brown asked what federal regulations applied, with regard to getting money back if the commissioners agreed to loan the airport capital to pay their debts. CFO Roy stated his concern regarding a property purchase and paying the money up front, because the land owner did not want to wait for federal funds. He felt it was probable that the commissioners could charge interest to the airport; but said interest was not included in the AIP budget. CFO Roy assured the commissioners that he would research the FAA rules and inform the commissioners of his findings.

MOTION: to authorize the CFO to investigate percentages on a line of credit. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to authorize an expense account designation for Time Trak. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • CFO Roy updated the commissioners with regard to Time Trak.

MOTION: to add item 4h, a request the payment from account E30-70-400 to Mechanical Services for replacement of an air conditioning compressor and condenser stand for the sheriff’s department chiller. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to pay a bill from Mechanical Services in the amount of $5,116.00 from account E30-70-400. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

  • CFO Roy requested designated capital accounts for the jail. $6,500.00 would be dedicated for the purchase of a jail vehicle. $10,000.00 has been pre-authorized by the BOC as contingency funds, and $25,000.00 would be dedicated to control panel issues.
  • Sheriff Clark stated that the county already has access to video arraignment and preferred to create an account for compensatory time buy-outs.
  • Responsibility of replacing the control panel was discussed.
  • CFO Roy updated the commissioners with regard to BOC budgeting issues.
  • Commissioner Brown asked it there were items that could be replaced on the control panel that cost less than $5,000.00. The valves cost less than $5,000.00 but the relays are no longer obtainable. The replacement of the entire panel would cost approximately $70,000.00.

MOTION: to authorize the following capital accounts: $10,000.00 as contingency, $6,500.00 to the jail van account, $25,000.00 dedicated to the jail control panel, $20,000.00 for the comp-time buy-out and the remaining $8,000.00 to $10,000.00 for capital improvements. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

12:20 p.m.: Break
12:30 p.m.: Back in session

  • CFO Roy requested authorization for the commission chairman to serve as the primary administrator of credit cards and to appoint the CFO as secondary administrator. He asked the commissioners to allow the chairman to sign a letter allowing an increase to the county clerks and deputy EMA director credit limit and to reduce the Register of Deeds credit card limit. A credit card with a limit of $10,000.00 will be held in the office of financial affairs for county usage.
  • Oversight of the CFO’s and chairman’s cards were discussed.

MOTION: to authorize the commission chairman as primary administrator of credit cards and to appoint the CFO as secondary administrator and to allow the chairman to sign a letter allowing an increase in credit limits the county clerk and deputy EMA director and to decrease the register of deeds credit card limit. A credit card with a $10,000.00 limit will be held in the office of financial affairs for county usage. A credit card will also be issued to the CFO and commission chairman, should he choose to carry one. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: the commissioners retain their right to set credit card limits.

1:01 p.m.: Break
1:05 p.m.: Back in session

Commissioner Brown called a recess of the commissioners’ regular meeting and declared the tax appeal hearing for the Samsara Memorial Trust v. the Tow of Frenchboro open.

Commissioner Brown swore in the participating parties. Attending the hearing were, Hancock County Commissioners Percy L. Brown, Jr, Steven E. Joy and Fay A. Lawson, selectmen/assessors Dr. Robert Roxby and Dr. Rob Stuart, selectmen/assessors for the Town of Frenchboro. Dr. Paula Stone, trustee of the Samsara Memorial Trust, attended the hearing via telephone. An audio recording of the hearing is available, upon request, in the commissioners’ office.

2:46 p.m.
Commissioner Brown declared the hearing closed.

2:53 p.m.
Deliberations:
Commissioner Joy referenced page 14 of the publication, The Basics on Tax Appeals before County Commissioners and read the following segment, “In general, equality controls over all other considerations. In enforcing this constitutional standard, the Law Court has stated: The assessment must…represent the owner’s equal portion of the burden of taxation,” which he did not believe happened, “and if the assessors have not appraised at full true value but only at a fixed percentage of true value, then such treatment must be uniform and equal on all real estate and tangible property, so much so that if both cannot be obtained, then equality must prevail.” Commissioner Joy stated that the Town of Frenchboro is using a formula that, in his opinion, is not treating everyone fairly: He continued reading, “Where it is impossible to secure both the standards of the true value, and the uniformity and equality required by law, the latter requirement is to be preferred as the just and ultimate purpose of the law.” Equality, was his concern, he believed the Samsara Memorial Trust taxation should be $12,500.00.

Commissioner Lawson also believed that the towns’ evaluation is greatly at fault and does not conform to the normal way of assessing property value. She stated that, in agreeing with Dr. Stone, that a fair price was the way to go or the commissioners have to go by some type of standard. She believed the same discipline in this case is not objective but they are in fact subjective. Commissioner Lawson stated that what has happened here is a very unfortunate thing, in that Dr. Stone has brought her case to the wrong court, adding that what needs to be appealed here is the method by which the town does its assessing. Commissioner Lawson stated that Dr. Stone has asked the commissioners to look at what they cannot look at, and that the commissioners must confine their examination to her property in relation to other properties on Black Island, and in relation to other properties on Black Island, there is no difference, that she has been treated fairly as the other people on Black Island are. Commissioner Lawson stated that while Dr. Stone is right in the long run, she needs to take this to another court and that the commissioners are obliged by the constraints placed on them to deny her appeal and to urge her to go to the Superior Court.

Commissioner Brown stated that he understood what the Town of Frenchboro tried to do when they tried to use a formula to adjust/evaluate the outer islands. Commissioner Brown thought that the Town of Frenchboro has gone ahead and used that formula evenly on the outer islands and he felt that they did not discriminate against Dr. Stone, in the sense. He believed that, in going back to the application from the Samsara Trust, that the application we have was flawed and the commissioners should not have heard the case in the first place due to the lack of information that is a requirement of the commissioners. He also stated they could not enter into evidence the packet that they received the other day because it was not available to all parties and that the application itself was flawed when it was sent to the commissioners, information was not included and the burden of proof here is not on the Town of Frenchboro, it is on the Samsara Memorial Trust and he did not, in any stretch of his imagination, think that the testimony he has heard today measures up to that. So, realizing there may be some issues here, he did not think this was the place and that it was properly petitioned for, therefore he would have to side with Commissioner Lawson and deny the appeal.

Commissioner Lawson stated, in denying the appeal she encouraged Dr. Stone to take this further, to appeal the commissioners appeal so that her case, on the basis that she has made to the commissioners can be brought, in a different light, to Superior Court.

MOTION: to deny the application for abatement of this property. (Lawson/Brown 2-1, motion passed) Commissioner Joy opposed.

Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated that in his opinion, the commissioners probably should not have heard this appeal. He believed that since it was heard, the commissioners have to pass judgment. Commissioner Brown stated that one of the problems associated with this particular hearing was that they were hearing it via telephone and that they did not receive all of the information that was required. Commissioner Lawson stated that usually lawyers present these cases and they are much more organized, the commissioners did not have evidence and they are not used to hearing cases that are not presented in a more professional manner.

3:06 p.m.
Commissioner Brown declared the regular meeting back in session.

UNORGANIZED TERRITORY:

  • E-9-1-1 addressing agent Marc Perry updated the commissioners on his progress with regard to the mapping of roads and E-9-1-1 addressing in the unorganized territory. He has completed 90% of the job and has physically visited many of the roads that are under the county’s purview.
  • Approximately 50 signs are needed throughout the unorganized territory. Installation of signs was discussed. The goal is to have them installed before the frost sets in, this year.
  • Addressing agent Perry stated that he has been answering numerous calls from UT residents with a variety of needs.

MOTION: to approve a $500.00 deposit for the unorganized territory portion of the annual household hazardous waste disposal from the solid waste budget line. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Mr. Perry stated that there is one current, up to date, trash contract which is good through 2011. Eight of the existing trash contracts expire in 2010. Presently we have two current fire contracts. There are currently no other fire contracts for any of the other UT’s.

3:56 p.m.
MOTION: to enter executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(A), a discussion regarding the position of unorganized territory supervisor. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

4:10 p.m.
Commissioner Brown declared the meeting back in session. There was nothing to report.

NEW BUSINESS:

  • The commissioners scheduled the tax appeal hearing for Walter Harris v. the Town of Blue Hill for August 4, 2009 at 1:00 p.m.

MAINTENANCE:

  • Facilities Director Richard Davis updated the commissioners with regard to a site visit, conducted June 26, 2009, from Jeffrey D. Henthorn, Director of Court Services and Programs of the State of Maine Administrative Office of the Courts. During his visit, Mr. Henthorn discussed ADA compliance and made several minor suggestions. Facilities Director Davis stated that the county will be responsible for implementation of changes but the state will be responsible for the cost of approximately $14,450.00.

MOTION: to do the requested ADA compliance updates. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

  • Refurbishing of the Superior Courtroom was also requested by Mr. Henthorn. He offered to split the cost of said refurbishing. Facilities Director Davis requested commissioner permission to seek a cost analysis to refurbish the superior courtroom. The commissioners agreed.

REGISTRY OF DEEDS:

  • The Registry of Deeds monthly report, which was submitted prior to the meeting, showed an increase in projected revenues.

MOTION: to rescind the motion made at the June 2, 2009 meeting regarding the cost of deeds on line. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

4:25 p.m.
MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 ss.405 6(E) A discussion related to the Registry of Deeds. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

4:50 p.m.
Commissioner Brown declared the meeting back in session.

COUNTY CLERK:

  • The county clerk, Cynthia DePrenger presented the commissioners with information from the Maine Municipal Association regarding their unemployment compensation fund v. direct reimbursement. She explained that in being a direct reimbursement employer, unemployment compensation claims are paid as they are received. By participating in the MMA plan, the annual amount would be pro-rated, and then adjusted after two years of participation. The amount of the MMA policy as quoted, per month is $1,762.00 or $21,144.00 annually. Over a 5 month period the cost would be $8,810.00. Currently, the county has paid $7,346.76 over a 5 month period. She stated, with the current indecision involving the jail, it may be prudent to utilize the services offered by MMA.
  • The commissioners preferred to revisit this issue in their December meeting.

RCC/E-9-1-1:

MOTION: to accept the resignation of full-time dispatcher Jennifer Grant effective June 25, 2009 and to allow her to continue employment under a part-time status, effective June 27, 2009. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

The commissioners spoke briefly about including the cost of the E-9-1-1 dispatching on the tax rolls.

5:00 p.m.
MOTION: to adjourn. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

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