Commissioners Regular Meeting

Commission Chairman Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, January 3, 2012in the conference room at the county courthouse in Ellsworth with Commissioners Lawson and Brown in attendance.

Commission Business:

MOTION: to appoint Steven E. Joy as chairman for the year 2012. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Kelly Bellis of Horizon Surveying Company requested commissioner approval to host the Hancock County Survey Archive on the third floor of the courthouse.  A written plan was distributed.  Scanning will be completed a place other than the space requested, the space will not be open to the public and will not require cleaning by county staff.  Commissioner Brown requested a written agreement between the two entities for the space discussed to include a beginning and end date.  Policies and procedures will evolve once approved.  Commissioner Joy was concerned with the clearing of the existing items in the room and access.  Items conveyed would become the property of the citizens of Hancock County; items would be under the care of the County of Hancock.  Preservation and handling was briefly discussed.  All three commissioners agreed with the concept of establishing a survey archive.  Work will begin, in the near future, to clear the requested space.

Adjustments to the Agenda:

MOTION: to add item 3j-volunteer fire fighters workers compensation request, 3k-part-time employee, 3L-CFO salary request, 3m-Higgins property discussion, 1c-signatures: capital accounts and to move item 5b to item 2a1. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: to approve: minutes of the December 6, 2011 commissioners regular meeting and December 13th and 28th, 2011 commissioners’ special meetings with noted corrections from the 28th meeting. (Lawson/Joy 1-0, 1 motion passed) Brown abstained.
Discussion: Commissioner Joy would like the December 28, 2011 minutes to reflect the following corrections:

  • Commissioner Joy would like to have something in writing from the LEPC chairman authorizing the expenditure for all of the LEPC funds for the hours Linda Feury worked for them.
  • to remove the language stating that the part time vacation accrual for part-time safety officer, Lynn O'Kane, was discussed, as it was not.

The suggested dates for the Richardson grievance hearing are January 13th or 17th.

MOTION: to reconsider 2012 capital transfers from the December 28th meeting. (Lawson/Joy 2-0-1, motion passed) Brown abstained

MOTION: to approve 2012 capital assets in the amount of $195,971. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Airport backhoe bids:
Blethen: $2,238.28
Kelton Muise: $3,002
David Spurling: $2,276
Ryan Densmore: $2,500
R. Howard: $1,600
Acadia Fuel: $1,850
Ron LaPlant: $855
Edward Weaver: $6,100
Charles Dalton II: $1,501.26
Michael Lessard: $1,397.66

MOTION: to award the airport backhoe bid to Edward Weaver in the amount of $6,100. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: to pay travel expenses for commissioners living over 5 miles from county seat. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to set: mileage rate for FY2012 at .44 cents per mile. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to authorize the chair to sign warrants. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to authorize the treasurer and county clerk to issue checks up to $1,000. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to appoint Commissioner Joy to the MCCA Board of Directors and Risk Pool. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to keep the same department liaisons as last year. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Department Liaisons:
Commissioner Lawson: Airport, EMA, DA and Deeds.
Commissioner Brown: Maintenance, UT, Probate and RCC.
Commissioner Joy: SO, OFA and County Commissioners.

Commissioner Brown stated that he was not sure that the county would be participate in the workforce investment group anymore due to FY12 funding issues.


MOTION: to approve General fund and Airport payroll warrants #11-47, #11-48, $11-49, #11-50 and #11-51 in the aggregate amount of $251,327.39. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve General fund and Airport expense warrants #11-45-, #11-46, #11-47, #11-48, #11-49 and #11-50 in the aggregate amount of $808,625.69. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION; to approve Jail and UT fund payroll warrants #12-21, #12-22, #12-23, #12-24, #12-25, #12-25a and #12-25b in the aggregate amount of $115,182.25. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve Jail and UT fund expense warrants #12-19, #12-20, #12-21, and #12-22 in the aggregate amount of $92,514.38. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Financial reports to include jail update were presented.  The airport report was not available.  Jail overtime was brought to the commissioner’s attention.  Health insurance numbers were not available.  Reconsideration of the commissioners’ regular meeting date was discussed but no action was taken.  The cost of health insurance was briefly discussed.

MOTION: to restore contingent fund to $100,000 per MRSA Title 30-A §924 (1), see §922 (2). (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

No action was taken to reduce the tax levy.

No action was taken regarding the capital reserve accounts for FY12 as they were presented and approved at the December 28, 2011 commissioners special meeting, per MRSA Title 30-A §924 (3), see §921.

Commissioner Brown requested that no action be taken regarding the approval of charter committee funding referenced in MRSA Title 30-A §924 (3).  Exploration of the subject will be discussed throughout the year.  The perceived plus for enacting a charter is “home rule.”

MOTION: to approve the financial agreement between CO Christopher Stanley and the County of Hancock, with suggested changes. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

The Hancock County Volunteer Fire Fighters Association requested to add fire academy trainers to the county workers compensation policy.  It was explained that, in the past, it was assumed that the trainers were included on the county workers comp insurance  Ellsworth Fire Chief, Richard Tupper stated that the cost of workers' comp would be approximately $1,537 annually, which would be paid from county provided funds.  Liability would be assumed for the trainers under the county's workers compensation policy.  Currently, the association does not have "employees."  There has never been an instructor injured in the history of the fire academy.  Fire academy instructors have historically been reported under a 1099.  W9’s were sent to individuals for FY11.  The county would not be obligated to perform payroll duties for the association.  If made part-time employees of the county, instructors would fall under the county’s workers compensation insurance.  Chief Tupper stated that, historically, trainers were considered part-time employees of the county therefore covered by the county’s workers compensation.  CFO Roy insisted that the trainers have never received a W2.  Commissioner Joy suggested that the county pay the city’s/ towns involved workers comp rather than having the county cover them.  If added as part-time employees, all instructors will have to be approved as part-time employees and direct deposit would be mandatory.  The county would be responsible for the 7.65% FICA, which would be covered by the fire fighters association and the employee would be responsible for taxes.  Cumberland County’s association has incorporated; the Hancock County Association is looking into the same.  If incorporated, the HCFFA becomes an employer thus creating additional cost.  Classification of employees was discussed, benefits would not be considered.  There are approximately 20 instructors, with 8 maximum working on a busy weekend and 3 maximum on a classroom day.  Commissioner Brown was not willing to support the request on a long term basis.  By making this change, it will force the change in how ARFF is classified under workers compensation.

MOTION: to add the volunteer fire association trainers the part-time employee rolls, no benefits included, for workers compensation purposes for the year 2012 only. (Joy/Lawson motion and second withdrawn, motion failed)
Discussion: a list of trainers will be presented at the second meeting in January and, if granted, the agreement would  be for the year 2012 only.  Commissioner Brown thought that an association like the fire fighters association would be a limited liability corporation.  Commissioner Joy cautioned becoming a corporation and suggested looking closely at the cost.  The fire academy schedule, which begins January 7th, will begin with classroom instruction until lists of trainers are received.  An agreement, in writing, would be needed addressing county employees who volunteer as trainers noting that this is not considered overtime or “county” related work.  Payment to trainers would not be paid unless authorized by Chief Tupper.  Commissioner Brown suggested speaking to a tax attorney to obtain further knowledge.  Commissioner Joy questioned if the trainers could fall  under the county’s workers comp umbrella by giving them a 1099.  Commissioner Lawson suggested making them contractual employees; a “part-time contractual or special employee” classification which would provide limited service and would fall under the county’s workers compensation, could be created to cover the trainers.  Commissioner Brown would want an attorney to draw up language associated with the agreement.  Commissioner Joy wanted to explore the part-time contractual employee scenario.  The clerk was asked to develop a definition for a part-time contractual category with a brief definition and include it in the second January meeting.

MOTION: to approve $2,808 for the part-time employee in the office of financial affairs for 9-hours per week at the rate of $12.50 per hour through June 30, 2012 and them reevaluate the need, amount to be paid out of surplus and to over draw the account 05-10-300. (Joy/Brown 2-0-1) Brown abstained.

CFO Roy requested an increase in his annual salary to 3% over $55,750.  Commissioner Lawson was opposed to the request and suggested 3% over the amount approved last year. 

MOTION: to move the discussion of item 3L to the executive session later in the day. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
Discussion: Commissioner Joy preferred to discuss the contract in executive session, pay would be discussed in open session.

CFO Roy discussed reimbursement of the Higgins lien.  Liability of the $274.88 oversight was discussed.  Commissioner Brown requested that a letter be sent to the previous owner requesting payment reimbursement.  If she does not pay, the matter should be dropped.  The town made a mistake by placing the lien against the property when the county owned the property.  $18.80 was paid during the closing as the buyer’s taxes.  It is now up to the Town of Trenton as to reimburse the airport for the $274.88.  As of last week, the assessors have decided not to abate the taxes.  The lien has not been discharged as of today.


Register Curtis explained the cost savings should the county decide to continue its affiliation with web host, Aptitude Solutions.  She explained that it was not cost effective to go out to bid with another vendor.  Commissioner Joy encouraged her to go through the RFP process as recent RFP’s have come in less than previous years.  Commissioner Brown cautioned Register Curtis regarding contractual agreement initiated in states other than Maine.

Deeds revenues exceeded year 2011 projections by $41,263.  Commissioner Brown stated that the Right to Know Committee made no recommendation regarding copy fees for the Registry of Deeds.  He felt that the judicial committee did not like the 10% proposed fees, discussion followed.


Airport Manager Navia stated that she has met with Peninsula Airways and Cape Air.  They are planning to present a joint proposal soon.  She was impressed with both companies and is planning on meeting with the airport advisory committee later in the week.  Proposals will be received on January 6, 2012, upon reviewing the proposals, a recommendation letter will be written.  Plane size was discussed.  Cape Air has partnered with Jet Blue and can offer great fare specials other pluses are no bag or change fees and no extra fee to purchase a ticket by phone.  Schedules would be split between the two companies per agreement.


Permission was granted to advertise for a full-time and part-time janitor.

MOTION: to accept the resignation of Elsa Trenholm effective January 20, 2012. (Lawson/Joy 3-0, motion passed)


There were no questions regarding the monthly report.  Commissioner Brown questioned if there has been talk about consolidating the 16 Emergency Management agencies throughout the state.  Director Pinkham stated that this should be explored.

MOTION: to sign the State of Maine Emergency Management Mutual Aid Agreement as presented. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Director Pinkham had nothing to add to the previous discussion regarding payment for the planner, he stated that in looking at the planner contract, the ball is now in the commissioners’ court as to how to interpret the contract.  CFO Roy stated that a letter was received noting the 2011 authorized expenses from the LEPC Chairman, Director Pinkham feels that this letter would take care of the LEPC funding question.  Mitigation grant funds being paid outside of the contract was still an issue.  The amount in question was approximately $3,857.  Commissioner Joy stated that he was still concerned that the contract was not to exceed $40,000 for the duties listed in the contract.  Commissioner Lawson clarified that the plural Homeland Security Grants included mitigation planning grants.  Commissioner Brown was concerned with the assumption of mismanagement.  He did not feel that Director Pinkham has mismanaged his department or his charges.  He stated that he was under the impression that the work performed would not exceed $40,000, but stated that the commissioners should have read the contract more closely.  He stated he wanted to move forward with getting a new director and clearing up the planner matter.  Commissioner Brown stated that he was very concerned that Director Pinkham felt that the commissioners felt he mismanaged his department.  He felt very strongly that that was not the case and  requested guidance from Director Pinkham as to how to settle the issue. CFO Roy stated that, according to his records, $3,395 is still due the planner.  $44,821 would be the total paid to the planner for her services.  Commissioner Brown stated that a vote should be taken to accept grant funds when received.  Director Pinkham stated that LEPC funds are a stipend, not a grant and should be kept separate and interest should be applied to the funds per a Commissioners motion from 2001. 

12:31 p.m.: Break for lunch
12:55 p.m.: Back in session

EMA continued:
$3,395 has been accrued for work done in FY11 and encumbered in FY12.  2009 Homeland Security planning funds spent year to date is $38,647 the balanced is $1,353.  2010 HS grant funds have $40,000 currently available.  CFO Roy suggested paying $2,940 out of mitigation and $455 out of planning.

MOTION: to pay the planner $3,395, of which $2,940 to be paid out of mitigation and $455 out of planning. (Lawson/Brown 2-1, motion passed) Joy opposed.
Discussion: in resolving this matter, the Director stated that if the planner is satisfied and he is not on the hook to be sued he will work toward resigning but is happy to work with the commissioners to make the director transition smooth.  The current director’s salary will continue and remain the same as last years until he resigns.

Heather Fowler, Scott McKee and Sherree Craig presented a health insurance overview for 2013.  Mr. McKee stated he was present to present information about Acadia Benefit's services, a review of Hancock County’s current plan and a wellness model for the future.  Claims history and relevant information was presented in graph form.  Acadia Benefits works with companies to provide the best plans to meet their needs.  If self funded, a fee would be associated with their service which would be worked into the county monthly rates.  If fully insured the carrier would pay Acadia Benefits a commission.  Compliance support is available with their service.  The Franklin Group and Acadia Benefits are similar companies.  Customer service and satisfaction is one of the major goals of Acadia Benefits.  Commissioner Joy questioned if monthly claims reports should be a expected service of the Franklin Group.  The answer was yes.  Maine Coast Memorial Hospital has worked with Acadia Benefits since 2005-2006.

2:05 p.m.: Break
2:10 p.m.: Back in session


Director Wellman gave a brief overview of her monthly report and distributed spreadsheets reflecting call numbers.

The following radio maintenance bids were opened:

Brown’s Communications, Inc.:$7,872.98. Service agreement renewal for 2012

MOTION: to accept the bid from Brown’s Communications for radio maintenance in the amount of $7,872.98. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
Discussion: Validity of the contract was questioned.

The job description for Megan Kelley was distributed for discussion during the second January meeting.


Sheriff Clark asked the commissioners to rescind the previous motion from December 6th to pursue the $1,000 deductable from Officer Chris Sargent.  Commissioner Joy did not want to rescind the motion as he did not feel it was  related to disciplinary action.  Sheriff Clark stated that the commissioners do not have statutory authority to discipline an employee, they can hear disciplinary appeals but can not discipline employees.  Commissioner Joy stated he did not feel it was disciplinary action and used the example that if a computer was purposely broken, the county would want reimbursement for this action.  Commissioner Lawson agreed with Sheriff Clark.  She felt that the commissioners could not impose the $1,000 loss of the deductable.  Commissioner Joy stated that the claim would not have occurred if the officer had not been negligent in his actions.  Commissioner Joy stated that if the commissioners could not work this out, a motion will follow to go through the motions to collect these funds.

MOTION: to collect the $1,000 insurance deductable and to work it out with the sheriff in a manner that everyone can live with, if the sheriff is not willing to go through this process, we will go through small claims court if necessary. (Joy/Brown 2-1, motion passed) Lawson opposed.
Discussion: Chief Deputy Bishop stated that the officer has admitted to misconduct, and stated that every day they are scrutinized on their decisions and felt that this action is setting a precedent.  It will cause officers to second guess their actions while on calls.  He stated that this decision will affect every law enforcement officer in the department.  Commissioner Lawson agreed with Chief Deputy Bishop.  Commissioner Joy stated that, in this situation, tax payers of Hancock County should not have to pay for this negligence.  Deer accidents are common, but this case is different and reflects poorly on the officer.  Sheriff Clark stated that the disciplinary action was appropriate and had the needed impact on the officer.  Sheriff Clark stated, for the record, he will not be assisting in this.  Commissioner Lawson could see why Commissioner Joy wanted to do this but was not in agreement.  Lt. P. Kane understood Commissioner Joy’s thinking but disagreed with trying to collect the $1,000 deductable and stated that his would isolate the deputies from the commissioners.  Commissioner Joy stated that the tax payers of Hancock County do not feel comfortable picking up the tab for something that was done in a negligent way.  Chief Deputy Bishop clarified that the only reason for taking these actions was to gain back $1,000.  Sheriff Clark stated that the tax payers have been enriched by the officers misconduct because they made over $5,000 on the payout of the vehicle.

MOTION: to accept the resignation of corrections corporal Eleanor Truesdale, effective January 6, 2012. (Lawson/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

2:50 p.m.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6a, to discuss an assignment of duties for an employee. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy brought the meeting back into regular session at 3:0 p.m. with nothing to report.

MOTION: to approve the promotion of Warren Dowling of Ellsworth to the position of temporary full-time corrections officer, effective January 7, 2012 at the rate of $13.50 per hour.  Benefits include accumulation of sick time and holiday benefit, no other benefits.  Employment is contingent upon Brad Ewing's return to work in a full or limited capacity. (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve the promotion of Shawn Merchant of Ellsworth to the position of full-time corrections officer from temporary full-time corrections officer at Step 9C, $15.32 per hour, effective January 7, 2012.  Seniority date to be August 20, 2011. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: to move to the UT animal control contract to the next agenda and to make a policy for stray or abandoned animals. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: to approve the request of the county clerk to utilize the Employee Assistance Program for the purchase of a computer under account G12031-7, cost not to exceed $850. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed)
Discussion: Commissioner Joy preferred change the policy having the commissioners approve purchases.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(A) to discuss part-time employee(s) compensation benefits and to discuss employment contract(s). (Joy/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 4:45 p.m.  The commissioners discussed a contract with the CFO, no agreement was met.  The commissioners also discussed an offer to Lynn O’Kane.  Contracts for exempt employees, not covered by statute, were discussed.  Commissioners Brown and Lawson are in favor of contracts, Commissioner Joy is not.  The length of proposed contracts would be one year.

Lynn O’Kane asked if vacation time proposed would need to be taken on regularly scheduled work days.  Commissioner Lawson stated that she could not take a vacation day on a day other than regularly scheduled days.  Commissioner Joy stated that he was alright with her taking vacation days on holidays.  Ms. O’Kane was concerned with making a hardship on the department by taking vacation days on regularly scheduled days.  Commissioner Joy stated that "we are trying to follow our policy that is in place so that we don't set some other precedence, that is where this offer is coming from."

The CFO requested an increase in his salary for FY12.  Commissioner Joy felt that the increase should be included in the contract that is being worked on and was not willing to discuss his salary at the present time.  The contract and salary request will be discussed at the second January meeting.

MOTION: to adjourn. (Brown/Lawson 3-0, motion passed)

Official Website of Hancock County, Maine.                              Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.