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COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING

Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 in the conference room at the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.

 

Adjustments to the Agenda:

John Bradford of Orland requested to be added to the agenda to discuss a Community Benefit Application.  Mr. Bradford had previously contacted the commissioners by telephone to discuss the fuel assistance project.  Commissioners Brown gave a synopsis of his discussion. Commissioner Blasi stated that he had a lengthy conversation with Mr. Bradford. Commissioner Blasi told Mr. Bradford that there is no statutory mandate prescribing how the County Commissioners distribute the community benefit funds. Commissioner Blasi scored all of the applications in hopes the commissioners would disperse the entire amount that is in the reserve account. He also told Mr. Bradford that he didn’t see any applications for taxation relief, coincidently, since constituents had been asking for this type of funding but there were no applications. Commissioner Blasi did find interest in the content of the applications and that they showed him another side of what is really going on in the community that would not be seen from simply reading the newspaper or going online.  Commissioner Blasi told Mr. Bradford that his application had been reviewed with the other ones and he recollected back to when Mr. Bradford’s group, One Maine, in which Commissioner Blasi thinks they may have met with the Gouldsboro Select Board or at least Select Person Bowen as part of the group, and they forwarded a petition to the clerk who forwarded it to Commissioners. It was a familiar application.  Commissioner Joy related that he did not speak with Mr. Bradford other than to tell him that he would not discuss the applications.  Commissioner Joy stated that he did not want to accept any further advocacy for any one specific application.  Commissioner Blasi stated that the opportunity to advocate was given on January 15, 2014.

MOTION: to not accept any further comment on the Community Benefit applications. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Commission Business:

Community Benefits: Commissioner Brown stated that he would like to see $70,000 of Community Benefit funds put toward taxation and the rest toward Community Benefit grants.  Commissioner Blasi stated that another way was to accept an application for taxation relief. Commissioner Brown stated that was not necessary as the commissioners have the authority to do this and have heard from advocates, their requests to reduce taxation. Commissioner Blasi felt that they should apply as it would show their sincere intent rather than speaking at a public hearing.  Commissioner Brown stated it was their responsibility as a commissioner to recognize that they have this money when it’s the definition of community benefit money, is to pay down taxes and the people are benefited the most through taxation.

Commissioner Joy stated that he has spoken to Dave Fowler and that the Hancock Project is "full speed ahead".  If Hancock County receives funds from that project, he would like to see at least $100,000 set aside to reduce taxation.  There is also a possibility of another project coming to the townships in the next year or two and First Wind would probably honor the same sort of agreement, he stated that this money could be used for taxation relief for a period of 20 years.  Commissioner Blasi asked if it was a process of wanting to accept an application for this purpose or just do it, as a matter of preference.  Commissioner Joy stated that he would like to spread tax relief equally and mentioned applying funds to 3rd Party Donations.  Commissioner Joy felt they were all on the same page. Commissioner Blasi would like all of the funds be used for this disbursement of applications.  Commissioner Joy stated he was leaning that way knowing that in the future they will definitely set aside funds for tax relief.  Commissioner Blasi reiterated that he didn’t mean for a particular town to apply for taxation relief but perhaps a citizen or a group of citizens would apply to the commissioners for taxation relief throughout the county as an initiative.  Commissioner Joy stated that they have done that at a public forum. They have given the message and funds will be set aside for taxation relief whether it is this time or next time.  Commissioner Brown stated it was the responsibility of the commissioners to be frugal with our budgets in this economy being the fiscal agents for the county.

The lowest scoring application were from Child and Family Opportunities, Friends in Action, Loaves & Fishes Food Pantry, Maine Coast Memorial Hospital, Maine Pretrial Services, Inc. and the Town of Stonington.  Commissioner Brown stated that he did not score the First Baptist Church of Winter Harbor low because of the separation of church and state.  He spoke about the helpfulness of Maine Pretrial Services and stated that the Town of Stonington project is important to the fishing community.  Economic Development was important to him when scoring applications. Commissioner Brown stated that many towns offer fuel assistance, therefore the county awarding fuel assistance funds would be redundant.  Commissioner Joy stated that he would rather see heating systems/heating problems corrected rather than providing fuel assistance.

After much discussion the following grants were considered:

Child & Family Opportunities - $15,000

Franklin Historical Society – $4,000

Friends in Action - $15,000

Great Cranberry Futures Group - $15,000

HCPC (One Hancock) - $6,000

Healthy Acadia - $6,000

Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry - $15,000

MCMH Dental Clinic - $10,000

Maine Pretrial Services - $25,000

Town of Stonington - $25,000

 

The total amount of grants: $136,000

First tier - $25,000

Second tier $15,000

Third tier $6,000

Commissioner Brown stated his concern that the UT’s did not have internet access and that he was not above adding Community Benefit funds to TIF funds in order to provide internet access to those areas.

MOTION: to award the Community Benefit funds to the following; Child & Family Opportunities $15,000, Franklin Historical Society $4,000, Friends in Action $15,000, Great Cranberry Futures Group $15,000, HCPC One Hancock. $6,000, Healthy Acadia $6,000, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry $15,000, MCMH Dental Clinic $10,000, Maine Pretrial Services $25,000 and the Town of Stonington $25,000. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Mr. Bradshaw representing HCPC (OneHancock) stated that there are people falling through the cracks in this area.  3,955 families were helped in 2013 and another 500+ were helped under the house and home warmth program.  He suggested that given the limited amount of funds, the program be considered experimental and suggested that OneHancock would apply the funds to the 6 communities who showed interest in the program.  Mr. Bradshaw fully agreed with Commissioner Joy’s statement regarding home weatherization, but added that there are homes that are in such bad condition, they cannot be weatherized.  Gouldsboro currently has a private fund operated by the town that gives the town clerk, who administers general assistance, an extra tool to help citizens.  Matching funds would encourage people to give toward the program.

Commissioner Joy stated that the current policy states that if grant funds have been awarded, they cannot reapply for a few years; that policy may have to be revisited for 3rd tier awards.  It was noted that Friends in Action received funds last year during the first distribution.  Commissioner Blasi stated that part of his initial advocacy was the initial submission.  Commissioner Joy reemphasized weatherization of homes.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the if an applicant who scored in the 3rd tier would be able to reapply for grant funds.  This policy could be revisited in the future.  He also suggested that the application not say how much funds are available for award as this may inhibit applications.

The separation of church and state and its inclusion in/out of the application was questioned from the floor.  Commissioner Joy stated that this was considered one commissioners opinion and stated that he believed in the church but due to the downward spiral of the building, it seems that overall deterioration cannot be stopped.  Commissioner Brown stated his reasoning for scoring the applications.  The next batch of Community Benefit funds should arrive in November, after funds are received, the process will begin again.

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 9:58 a.m. and called for a break.

10:00 a.m.: Back in session.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 ss. 405 6(a) to discuss a personnel matter with legal counsel.  (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 10:23 a.m. with nothing to report.

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 ss. 405 6a to conduct an employee evaluation. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 10:56 a.m. with nothing to report.

RCC:

Approve the promotion of April Canavan of Harrington from part-time to full-time dispatcher at Step 9A, $14.44 per hour, effective March 22, 2014. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: this was advertised in-house.  The employee is currently in training.

Registry of Deeds:

Register of Deeds, Julie Curtis requested authorization for the chairman to sign the contract for AI Index.  During the final year with Aptitude Solutions, Aptitude did not converse with Mentis to convert indexing.  Due to this the annual maintenance fee was not charged.  In the new proposal, back maintenance is being charged because it is less expensive than initializing a new contract.  After implementation the annual cost will be $6,825.  Accounts suggested to cover the cost were 09-30-500 or 09-01-130.  Commissioner Joy was surprised that Mentis requested payment for prior maintenance fees when the service was not used and the licensing was previously paid for.  Register Curtis explained that Mentis made the decision not to charge the maintenance fee while it was not compatible with Aptitude, not the county.  Commissioner Joy preferred to overspend a budgeted line rather than spending from a personnel line.  He also preferred not to have to pay one year of prior maintenance fees and directed Register Curtis to approach Mentis with this request.  Commissioner Brown also preferred to overspend a budgeted line for transparency purposes.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if TRIO could track transfers for over expenditures.

Commissioners

Policy Workshop:

After a brief discussion, the following was made:

MOTION: that all employees should work 8 hour days. (Blasi/ motion failed for lack of 2nd.)

The Policy Workshop will be placed on this policy on March 28th.

Discussion/approval: Commissioner Access to Employee Files Policy.  Commissioner Blasi stated that he agreed with #2, that no commissioner shall add documentation to the personnel file of a county employee except as authorized by the board and read the following statement:

As the public has read, I oppose this expenditure of legal fees to DRAFT a policy that supersedes each commissioner's charge under statute to manage the county's business (Title 30-A, ss. 101).  For several years we have had a personnel file policy in our employee personnel policy binder, statement XXIX, which clarifies Title 30-A SS. 503 and Section 61 that the County Clerk/Personnel Coordinator is responsible for personnel files, and that a written request to the clerk for anyone to review the files required.  I have reviewed department head personnel files.  Knowing our manager's backgrounds and certifications assists me to supervise them.  There is no reason for a separate Commissioner Policy to change personnel file access and review so that it can only happen if a majority of Commissioners consent.  Any commissioner should continue to be able to submit a written request to the clerk for access.  I agree with number 2 of the DRAFT policy.

Upon hearing Commissioner Blasi's above statement Commissioner Joy clarified that commissioners (plural) supervise personnel, not one single commissioner supervises personnel.  Commissioner Brown stated that there are things in personnel files that are not public record.  The county clerk is the holder / has custody of personnel files.  Commissioner Brown stated that commissioners should not have access to personnel files and that as a board of three, the commissioners govern, adding that not one single commissioner should have access to personnel files.  Commissioner Joy read the policy aloud for clarification and discussion and requested that #1 (b) be clarified by legal counsel.

With regard to a Community Benefit's grant award from earlier in the day, Commissioner Blasi stated that the Friendly Caller Program is a separate purpose through Friends in Action than what was proposed last year for that group.

MOTION: that an applicant may reapply if they can present a different program to the commissioners. (Blasi/failed for lack of 2nd) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that he supports his motion due to reapplying for a different purpose.  Commissioner Joy stated that the current policy says that an entity cannot apply for a 2nd time.  In the future, a designation may apply for another year, lowering the amount requested.

MOTION: that Friends in Action be disqualified from receiving grant funds this year due to receiving funds last year. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Future discussion will ensue regarding the level of funding.

Entities should be contacted after 90 days in order to receive acknowledgement of funds received, final reports should be requested from entities previously receiving funds.

Regarding the $15,000 awarded earlier in the day to Friends in Action, Commissioner Blasi preferred to award the entire amount to another applicant(s). Commissioner Brown preferred to leave it as is.

A discussion followed regarding applying at least $100,000 toward taxation, yearly, moving forward.

MOTION: to add $4,000 to HCPC (OneHancock), $4,000 to Healthy Acadia, award $3,500 to Farm Tomorrow on behalf of Food for All, and $3,500 to The Grand. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to adjourn. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully,

 

C. DePrenger

County Clerk

 

Kelley E. Tupper

Deputy County Clerk

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