Commissioner Agendas & Minutes
COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING
Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the Special Meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 18, 2014 in the conference room of the Hancock County Courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.
Adjustments to the agenda:
MOTION: to adjust the agenda to include a FOA request by the UT Fiscal Administrator to the agenda. (Blasi/Joy 1-2, motion failed, Joy and Brown opposed)
Discussion: Commissioner Blasi read the following statement: Upon the Chairman's counsel, I request that the State Auditor's third request in 2 months, for CFO Roy to provide communications and financial source documents regarding $26,273 of unbudgeted and unappropriated expenditures resulting in a deficit fund balance in the First Wind TIF fund (UT department) for FYE 2013--this one a Freedom of Access Act written request, be placed on today's agenda. He asked the commissioners to determine the most efficient manner of forwarding the information requested by the State Auditor, to them, by the end of the month.
Commissioner Brown stated that we made a 5-day response and are all set there. It takes a while to gather the material and as Public Access Officer, he has requested expedience in responding to the request. CFO Roy stated that Renee Wellman should also be included in the request as there are several years of data to gather. He was in hopes of being able to gather all the requested information by the end of the month. Commissioner Joy requested clarification as to what the statutes say about timeliness of response.
Commissioner Brown stated that it should be responded to “in a timely manner.” If the request is not responded to "in a timely manner" then they can appeal to the Ombudsman or file a formal FOA Request in the court system. "In a timely manner" as been a continuous discussion of the Right to Know and Judiciary Committee. He stated that "in a timely manner" could be interpreted differently by the person requesting the information and the people responding. Information could be sent at separate times with a caveat that the rest is on its way, while continuing to gather it. Attorney Erik Stumpfel was involved in the discussion of the monies and how the funds would be spent, he is a TIF attorney and the one that was used to set up the TIF, he has been notified regarding the request but has yet to respond.
Commissioner Brown questioned why, all of a sudden, did Ms. McInnis ask for a FOA on this request and asked if someone complained about it. He then asked Commissioner Blasi if he had contacted McInnis. Commissioner Blasi stated that he has spoken with State of Maine Auditor Buckley about the issue and what was "on record" to question if the State was going to conduct a Community Benefits and TIF fund audit as it says in the minutes. Commissioner Brown asked if Commissioner Blasi told them if there was a discrepancy in a questioning manner. Commissioner Blasi stated that no, he asked if there was going to be audit. Commissioner Brown asked if Commissioner said that there was a discrepancy in a questioning manner. Commissioner Blasi responded, no. When questioned if he mentioned the $26,000, Commissioner Blasi stated, Ms. Buckley mentioned the $26,000 to him in their conversation. When questioning how she obtained the information, Commissioner Blasi stated that she got it from the Hancock County Financial Statement provided by RKO auditor. Commissioner Brown stated that he felt like we are complying with the request and that it is probably complicated because it is our first TIF. He stated that he did not think we did anything intentionally, if we made a mistake then it was out of ignorance.
CFO Roy stated that he wanted the commissioners to realize that Commissioner Blasi has contacted the FAA which also brought into question our management cost to the FAA and that he also heard that Commissioner Blasi has contacted the State Auditor and that is why the FOA request was forth coming. CFO Roy stated that we are working with Marcia McInnis and that he had been out due to surgery and other circumstances. He stated that her request did not go out in a timely manner but that was not the reason why she sent the FOA request. It came because someone contacted the Department of Audit and his sources said it was Commissioner Blasi, to which he has now admitted to doing so. Commissioner Blasi stated that he contacted the State Auditor to determine if, according to CFO Roy, that there was indeed going to be an audit of the TIF and Community Benefit funds. Commissioner Brown questioned Commissioner Blasi asking if he thought that was in the best interest of the county to do that? Commissioner Blasi responded by saying "that was what was on record." Commissioner Brown stated that he thought we were complying with the request and that it should move ahead.
CFO Roy stated that Commissioner Blasi has requested a discussion regarding payment to Penobscot County in the amount of $20,924. Commissioner Blasi had requested to hold the check for the sanding and salting of the Nicatous Road. CFO Roy did not know the reason for the request. Commissioner Brown stated that we have an agreement with Penobscot and questioned "why don't we just pay the bill, if we end up not being sanded up there, there is going to be an issue." Commissioner Brown stated, sign the check and send the check! Commissioner Joy stated that "a" commissioner does not have the authority to do that, he said that he has checked the warrant, send the check.
MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to conduct employee evaluations. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 10:20 a.m. with nothing to report.
Break: 8:45 a.m.
Back in Session: 9:00 a.m.
Harassment – Commissioner Blasi stated that paragraph B seemed exclusionary and if there was another type of behavior that was not under paragraph B or described in paragraph, it should be included. Letter D attempts to include behavior that is similar to what's in the paragraph but goes beyond the status protected by law. Anne Marie Storey of Rudman & Winchell was the originator of the Harassment Policy which is based on federal law. Commissioner Brown questioned "similar behavior." Commissioner Blasi stated that they were all the behaviors listed in paragraph B that may not be part of the protected status. Commissioner Blasi stated that he was trying to be inclusive of everyone. Commissioner Joy questioned if he was trying to create another protected status. Commissioner Blasi responded, no. Commissioner Joy again questioned if he was trying to add an additional protected status, his response was no, he wanted to be able to include anybody. Commissioner Joy stated that the Federal Government has come up with what they believe is a definition Freedom from Unlawful Harassment, and questioned if Commissioner Blasi was going to try to improve on theirs. Commissioner Blasi responded by saying "yes, I think it needs improving." Commissioner Blasi also requested to move letter D up in the document under letter C or put the examples of such harassment under the first paragraph.
MOTION: to include letter (D) as indicated in red. (Blasi/ motion failed for lack of second.)
Complaint Commissioner Blasi stated that in trying to be exclusive of everyone who works for Hancock County, the currently policy, in his mind, does not address Elected Officials. Commissioner Brown stated that the commissioners did not have the authority to discipline Elected Officials and that he should not make a rule that cannot be enforced. Commissioner Blasi stated that is not about discipline, it's about their ability to complain. Commissioner Brown stated that Elected Officials can complain all they want to. Commissioner Blasi stated that they cannot be addressed under this policy and elected officials should have the opportunity to complain. Commissioner Brown stated that elected officials cannot complain about other elected officials because they are governed by statutes and they are voted in by the people. If a law is broken, the law protects them. Commissioner Blasi asked if the other commissioners felt that they had the right to follow the established complaint policy under the current policy. Commissioner Brown believed they do but they cannot be disciplined. Commissioner Blasi believed that they currently do not have that right.
MOTION: to approve letter D, as printed in red in the Complaint Procedure Policy. (Blasi/failed for lack of second)
Appointed/Exempt-Commissioner Joy stated that vacation and sick time should be accrued upon hire and that exempt employees should accrue time in their first year. CFO Roy stated that by accruing time, exempt employees would have to be paid out their accrued time upon leaving employment in good standing. After hearing this, Commissioner Joy changed his thoughts on accruing time.
With regard to paying out 40 hours of vacation time in December, Commissioner Blasi suggested paying a flat rate for unused vacation time. Commissioner Blasi suggested averaging the pay of all exempt employees in order to find that number that could be paid to these employees.
With regard to payment of the 53rd pay week, financial liability is the reason the county no longer follows the accrued accounting system.
With regard to being required to perform work duties within the courthouse, CFO Roy stated that by requiring employees to be in the building, it will hamper employees from working at home. Commissioner Joy stated that a “qualified departmental employee” is someone who can keep the office running while the regular employees/workers are out of the office. This would require departmental employees to be trained. Commissioner Brown suggested amending the “blue” section to remove “all” from the sentence. The reason to be open from 8-4 is to serve the public and conduct county business. A qualified departmental employee is one who can perform most, if not all, functions of the department that the visiting public would require to conduct business within that department.
With regard to working 4-10 hour days, Commissioner Joy stated that this practice is transpiring now and questioned if the other commissioners wanted to continue this. Commissioner Brown questioned if more supervisors would need to be hired. It would be understood that if an exempt employee was approved to work 4-10 hour days, that the office would still have to be open from 8-4 Monday through Friday with a “qualified departmental employee.” CFO Roy stated that currently, 4-10 hour days is how he operates his office, but someone is there for the entire 8-4 work week. There are exceptions to the rules that may come up sporadically. Commissioner Joy questioned if the commissioners were going to allow 4-10 hour days and if so, is that considered as telling exempt employees that they have to work “only” 40 hours per week. The job description states that exempt employees are expected to work 40+ hours per week. It was stressed that the departments should be open from 8-4 Monday through Friday with qualified departmental personnel working in the departments.
With regard to employees who are not required to punch in and out, Clerk DePrenger stated that this section was voted on in a meeting several years ago but has not been shown in the policy until now. Commissioner Brown stated that this section needs to stay and "it means nobody outside of the positions named" one of the biggest things is determining how many hours our personnel is putting in if there is nothing to go by. Clerk DePrenger stated that the Detective in the DA's Office was not mentioned at the time of formulating the original list. Commissioner Brown stressed "nobody" he is suppose to be punching right now. There is no reason why he doesn't punch. When told that he would have to take that up with the DA, the Clerk was informed that the employee was under the auspice of the Commissioners of the County. It was questioned why the EMA Director was not punching in and out. Commissioner Brown explained that the EMA Director sometimes begins his day from home and is not in the building on a daily basis and cannot punch. Punching in and out is not about verifying exempt employee’s times, it’s about knowing who is working at what times and knowing the hours they are working.
With regard to reporting sick time, Commissioner Joy stated that sick time is a benefit given to exempt employees to cover doctor's appointments and the like. If employees are out sick, or go to a doctor’s appointment, you use your sick time. Commissioner Brown gave an example of having a flu shot at 9:00 in the morning and taking the rest of the day off. CFO Roy stated that by having a doctor’s appointment in Belgrade Maine at 11:30 a.m., it doesn’t make sense to come to work that day, he may have already worked 43 hours during that week and questioned why he would have to report the 8 hours sick time. Exempt employees have been told that they are expected to work 40+ hours per week. Commissioner Joy requested to continue the discussion at the March meeting. A clean copy of the consensus for this policy will be provided at the March meeting.
MOTION: to approve the change presented in the sick leave policy. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that employees who need replacement ID Cards should be required to pay for them and requested that this be added to the Personnel Policy. Commissioner Joy stated that this is a management issue that should be addressed by the department head. Commissioner Blasi stated that redundant offenders should have to pay for theirs.
Registry of Probate:
Surcharge discussion: CFO Roy thanked the Clerk and Register of Probate for their work on this project. CFO Roy stated that it was his and the Registers understanding that 8 hours per week has been put toward the surcharge account. In 2011 there was 45 weeks of surcharge work done within 351 hours. In 2012 the surcharge employee was moved into the 300 (part-time) account as it helped with the payroll process. 8 hours a week for 52 weeks was supposed to be offset by surcharge. There were not enough surcharge funds to cover the 8 hours. In 2014, the surcharge account is in the negative by $160.06 as of February 12, 2014. The overall Registry of Probate budget, revenues and expenditures, cover the expense.
In researching the actual minutes and audio tapes, it was discovered that the employee should have been paid for 26 weeks in 2012 out of surcharge. The county would have owed the surcharge account $1,143.66 in this circumstance. In 2013 surcharge revenue totaled $3,563, expenditures totaled $5,373.89 which resulted in a negative balance of $1,810.89. 2014 is still manageable and can be changed. Based on the minutes and the audio of meetings, in 2011 there should have been a revenue of $1,351.78, in 2012 the surcharge revenue should have been $1,143.66 and in 2013 the revenue would have been a negative amount of $1,810.89 for a total remaining surcharge amount of $684.55. This amount should be credited to the surcharge account. Commissioner Blasi preferred to have an account number associated with the $684.55 transfer. CFO Roy requested a motion to credit the surcharge account with the $684.55 plus interest of $4.71. The 2014 budget has been under budgeted by approximately $5,373.89 but, departmental revenues should cover the shortfall. Register Cousins has discussed cutting the employees hours in order to save funds. Commissioner Brown stated the account number would be 30-3014-50 and questioned if the funds originally went into Undesignated Funds. The answer was yes, the $685.55 would come from Undesignated Funds. It was explained that that the surcharge account is currently in a positive state. The possible 2014 deficit will be lowered by controlling personnel. Commissioner Joy stated that it was his belief that the employee should not be penalized and stated that he would like to see us over run the part time line and requested to not overspend the surcharge line. This would be fixed in 2015. CFO Roy understood that the employee would continue working 8 hours per week and the departmental revenue would be used to cover the over run at the end of the year. The $685.55 will go into the surcharge special reserve account then they will pay the over run from the probate revenues and it will be cleaned up in 2015. Commissioner Blasi questioned the status of the Registers checking account. There is none, the funds do not have to be in a checking account, it has to be in a nonlapsing account. The commissioners agreed that the Register needs to be informed of what’s in her surcharge account.
MOTION: to move $684.55 into the Probate Surcharge Account G1-3014-50 and to authorize Bonnie to continue to work the employee same amount of hours and to, if she has to, over expend her part-time line. (Joy/Blasi 2-1, motion passed, Blasi opposed)
MOTION: to approve the hire of Raymond C. Mitchell of Bucksport as a part-time, on call, as needed Corrections Officer at the rate of $12 per hour, effective February 22, 2014. No benefits, not to exceed an average of 29 hour per week for calendar year 2014. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: the 29 hours has to do with the Affordable Care Act.
MOTION: to approve an Unpaid Leave of Absence request for CO Jon Merchant from February 1, 2014 through February 17, 2014. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
Registry of Deeds:
MOTION: to approve and Unpaid Leave of Absence request for Deputy Register of Deeds, Elizabeth Austin from February 10, 2014 through March 24, 2014. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to accept the resignation of full-time dispatcher Twyla Bryant effective February 14, 2014. (
The clerk showed the commissioners a presentation regarding CGI Communications. After watching the video, she was instructed to check to see if there is enough web memory/space and if the cost would go up to include a presentation and to and include the discussion on the March CRM agenda.
Office of Financial Affairs
CFO Roy presented a recommendation from Sierra Communications for the replacement of his desktop computer at a cost of approximately $949. This does not include Windows 7 Professional which cost $375. CFO Roy will check with Sierra for cost savings. It was requested that the purchase be paid for from the OFA Technology Reserve Account. CFO Roy stated that he would not order the machine without hearing from Sierra first. Commissioner Brown questioned why it is not being requested from the courthouse technology reserve. Clerk DePrenger agreed that it should be.
MOTION: to take up to $1,500 out of the courthouse technology account G1-3011-01 to replace the OFA's desktop computer. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that the replaced computer will be retained. CFO Roy stated that the computer will be cannibalized and destroyed, the clerk will wipe the computer clean. The data remains on the server. Commissioner Joy stated that the computer will be disposed of. Sierra Communications maintains the Administrative Server. Commissioner Joy requested that Sierra Communications visit the county to discuss the replacement of the administrative server, Commissioner Blasi agreed.
CFO Roy distributed information regarding funds owed by First Wind (Acct# G1-2005-00 General Fund/Wind Project) to the county for legal services. Commissioner Blasi stated that he has requested information from the first reimbursement from First Wind to reimburse the county. Commissioner Brown has recently spoken to Dave Fowler who is still waiting for information from Erik Stumpfel. Windmills will not arrive until late 2014. Commissioner Blasi requested an LUPC hearing for the site. Commissioner Brown stated that the project has already been approved. CFO Roy stated that it was his understanding that they were waiting for final permit approval. Commissioner Blasi reiterated that the commissioners should request a LUPC hearing under the Energy Act.
MOTION: to adjourn. (Blasi/Brown 3-0 motion passed)