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Commissioner's Budget Workshop

August 26, 2014

Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, August 26, 2014 in the conference room at the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.

 

Adjustments to the Agenda:

Commissioner Blasi stated that a formal vote has not yet been taken to schedule the Public Hearing for the Hancock Wind TIF District.

MOTION: to add a vote regarding the scheduling of the Hancock Wind Public Hearing. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to hold the Hancock Wind Public Hearing regarding the TIF District on September 12, 2014 at 9:00 a.m. (Brown/Joy 2-1, motion passed, Blasi apposed) Discussion: It was questioned if the hearing should include the CBA and Credit Enhancement Agreement; the answer was no.  Commissioner Blasi made the following statement: County Commissioners should not approve a second TIF Agreement.  Hancock County is under investigation for the existing TIF Agreement.  At this time Commissioner Blasi was interrupted and it was stated that Hancock County is not under investigation, Commissioner Blasi continued - with First Wind.

Proposed changes that department heads are in favor of during today's meeting will be shown in the Manager Proposed column of the budget, commissioner proposed changes will be shown in the Commissioner Proposed column.

Commission Budget Workshop:

02 - Emergency Management Agency

Proposed Revenues: $95,378

Proposed Expenditures: $186,077

A 2.54% increase was requested for the Manager and a 2% increase was requested for the part-time Administrative Assistant.  The Deputy Manager position was reintroduced into the proposed FY15 budget; this position will not be funded through grants.  The cost of copier maintenance was suggested by the CFO.  Director Sankey stated that he does not anticipate over expending his proposed travel budget.  Operational funding remained at 2014 rates.  50% of the EMA budget is reimbursed in its entirety.  Future Homeland Security Grants and the Emergency Management Program Grant funds (EMPG) are anticipated for 2015.  In 2013 half of the Deputy Managers (Planner) salary was paid through a grant and half was paid through taxation.  If grant funds were added to the EMA budget the budget would not be reimbursed 50%.  The Emergency Management Program Grant reimburses the department by 50%.

01 - Courts:

Proposed Expenditures: $10,195

03 - District Attorney

Proposed Revenues: $23,500

Proposed Expenditures: $364,012

Revenue is from the VWA Grant.  Extradition funds are unpredictable; the District Attorney has extradited people from other states in 2014.  According to DA Bassano, Personnel Services numbers reflect the county’s hiring agreement.  There are no significant changes in the budget other than in account 30-320, Computer Software.  Basic costs are unchanged, new features include changing the DA’s e-mail to Maine.gov.  Eleven accounts are needed at a start-up cost of $50 per account; the monthly cost would be $6.50 per account.  In an effort to balance the cost, DA Bassano suggested discontinuing the DA’s website.  $937.50 would be needed to update the SCS (Shared Case Summary) through DA Central.  Justice Web is a product being offered by New Dawn that is being requested in the proposed FY15 budget at an estimated cost of $12,300.  This will allow all reports to be scanned into Justware and will allow the provision of Discovery electronically; it will also provide an electronic archive on a server.  At some time the courts will require complaints to be filed electronically; this would be accomplished through Justice Web.  The State of Maine may purchase electronic filing software that is different than Justice Web but they feel that another product may be compatible with Justice Web.  DA Bassano stated that the purchase of Justice Web was presented as something to consider for the future.  A capital account could be set up for a future purchase although New Dawn has offered a substantial discount for immediate purchase.  The Sheriff’s Department owns the DA Detective vehicle.  An account has not been set up in the DA’s budget for the purchase of a future vehicle.  DA’s thorough out the State are presenting the Justice Web software to their commissioners for inclusion within their budgets.  Communications between the courthouse, between Justware/Justice Web and existing programs was a concern.  DA Bassano stated that Justware is a “silo” that the DA’s utilize, the court system does not utilize Justware.  Cumberland County currently uses or will soon be using Justice Web.  Commissioner Joy stated , in general, the whole world is scanning and then storing the physical information, if people believe in scanning and utilize it in a way that it is suppose to be used, it will work.  A decision does not have to be made on this proposal today.  Commissioner Blasi thanked DA Bassano for submitting an Overage explanation.

10 - Sheriff

Proposed Revenues: $10,500

Proposed Expenditures: $1,044,255

Commissioner Blasi thanked Administrative Assistant Cote for submitting an Overage explanation for the Sheriff’s Office.

Sheriff Elect Kane stated that he will be proposing adjustments in auto repair and office furniture.  After making sure all participants had the same proposed budget, it was stated that the original salary submitted for the Sheriff and Chief Deputy was $1 each.  Sheriff Elect Kane requested to take a few days to look at the proposed budget, given to him today, prior to making any suggested changes.  He was instructed to submit his proposed changes by Friday, August 29th.  New Vehicle purchases and the Sheriff’s Lease was budgeted at $1.  CFO Roy suggested purchasing a vehicle for the sheriff for 2015 rather than leasing.  Sheriff Elect Kane stated that he preferred to standardize the vehicle fleet, he is not 100% sold on pick-ups and preferred the Ford SUV’s.  Dealer trade-in’s has created a “spare vehicle” deficiency.  Computer maintenance will also need to be looked at for 2015.  Sheriff Elect Kane stated that there are no records of e-mail from the sheriff’s office.  A price has been negotiated to retain e-mails.  Access to the cell phone account, to make purchases and change out phones, was requested by the Sheriff Elect.

12 - Formal Town Contracts

Proposed Revenues: $174,896

Proposed Expenditures: $146,423

There is currently $30,273 in the Town Contract Cruiser account; Commissioner Brown asked how much income was anticipated in that account between now and December 2014.  CFO Roy stated the capital account will not increase anymore unless the commissioners add to it.  The revenues are running on track and August has not yet been billed.  Expenses are running “right on tap.”  It was clarified that there are funds in the Town Contract account to purchase cruiser(s).  Sheriff Elect Kane stated that he would need three vehicles in 2015.

13 - Civil Process

Proposed Revenues: $110,000

Proposed Expenditures: $123,618

There will be a leave of absence in Civil Process sometime at the end of 2014 or the beginning of 2015.  The part-time account will be adjusted to reflect that absence/need.

46 - Drug Task Force

Proposed Revenues: $138,062

Proposed Expenditures: $225,235

The sheriff’s department is currently incurring a cost for storage for the Drug Task Force.  Due to tracking purposed, Sheriff Elect Kane was instructed to continue running this account it in the red.  Commissioner Blasi concurred with this assessment as it was not previously budgeted for.

60 - Unorganized Territory

Proposed Revenues:

Proposed Expenditures:

The advertisement for the Hancock Wind TIF District has been submitted.  Overdrafts for year end June 30, 2014 include attorneys.  A professional services account will be included in the FY15-16 budget to take these fees into account.  Advertising will be increased as well as snow removal.  Snow removal is per season; the cost of salt & sand through Penobscot County caused an overdraft.  Commissioner Blasi thanked UT Supervisor Billings for his Overdraft Notes.

07 - RCC

Proposed Revenues: $100,275

Proposed Expenditures: $804,564

Director Wellman quested if the RCC would be put on the tax rolls for 2015.  This has yet to be decided.  Revenues, for dispatching services, were reflected in the FY15 budget proposal.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if the RCC was relocating.  Commissioner Joy stated that there have been informal conversations but there is nothing to report.  Revenues for legal fees was included in the proposed budget and an expense line will be created for legal services.  Redaction is done by our attorney/legal assistant when information cannot be distributed to the public.  $400 may be added to the expense (Legal Expenses 07-30-110) and revenue (Transcripts 07-255) lines.

The Manager wage increase was proposed at 5%.  The Comp-Time Buyout was increased due to usage.  Uniforms include shirts and footwear; although footwear is in the Union Contract, it has never been provided.  Director Wellman is need of a new cell phone and an Air Card is needed.  Service Contracts were increased by $26,794 due to tower maintenance, frequency fees, an additional tower, messenger service, and Spillman costs.  Account 70-100 Equipment was budgeted at $150,000 due to anticipation of radio equipment for an additional communications tower.  Director Wellman has been offered the equipment building currently located at Cadillac Mountain; it would need to be moved; she is looking into the cost of moving the building.  The building at Bull Hill cost $15,000; this total did not count the prep work or the electrical.  The electrical for the Bull Hill building cost $30,000.  The equipment currently inside the Cadillac Mountain building does not go with it.  $150,000 is based the cost of electrical equipment and a percentage of cost increase; it does not include the cost of moving the building.  The building should come off Cadillac Mountain as soon as possible.  Proposed tower locations include Brooksville, Caterpillar Hill, and the Blue Hill area.  Charts will be requested as part of the process.  Sanctions on the Blue Hill Tower are different than what we have elsewhere and are limited.  Mt. Waldo and Mt. Ephraim are also being looked at.  A professional recommendation was questioned.  Commissioner Brown referenced a discussion regarding the Bull Hill TIF in which the communications proposal was included.  The cost of the telephone and Air Card was questioned under Utilities 07-15-100.  The equipment would come out of Department 7; the cell phone usage and Air Card usage would come from Department 14.  The Air Card cost approximately $60 per month.

09 - Registry of Deeds

Proposed Revenues: $710,000

Proposed Expenditures: $273,866

Revenues total the same total as the 2014 budget.  Copy Fees are down due to “giving away the 500 a year.”  Part-time reflects the actual cost and the revenue is reflected in the Surcharge revenue line, making it a wash.  Register Curtis explained that beginning in January 2014 the first 500 copies were free, after that there is a fee.  The Managers salary was increased and the clerks' salary reflect the wage scale.  Postage was increased to reflect actual usage and Microfilm includes the cost of the AI Index Contract, this can be lowered to $41,000.  The AI Index Contract was signed recently, after which “our vendor” did a knowledge based product update.  AI Index is now sending our check back because the Register thought the funds could be better spent someplace else.  She could not see wasting the tax payer money on something that our vendor, Property Info, are finally making work properly.  AI Index had not preformed any of the work at the time and the county was let out of the contract.

08 - Registry of Probate

Proposed Revenues: $113,250

Proposed Expenditures: $188,333

Publications increased by $700 due to the Register charging more for publishing legal ads, Mailing Fees increased due to an increase in postage costs, Copies has decreased due to computer access.  Filing Fees are dictated through the Legislature; Commissioner Joy hoped that these would be increased through legislative channels.  The Manager requested a 4% increase and the Deputy Register and Clerk wages were dictated by the wage scale.  The judges’ salary was decreased due to the longevity of the veteran judge.  Part-time was increased due to the inclusion of an extra day and to allow the build-up of the Surcharge AccountTravel was increased due to anticipated travel of the new judge.  Office Supplies and Travel are going to be overdrawn in 2014.  Advertising was increased due to currently not charging enough for publications.  Commissioner Joy reiterated that it is not just the cost of the ad, it’s the cost of the persons time to do the work, overhead, etcetera.  2014 Overdrafts will include, Travel, Supplies and copies/Copier Maintenance.  Scanning of cases was questioned but, it was clarified that the Law Court requires original paperwork.  The Probate copier will also need to be replaced in FY15.  Commissioner Joy reiterated that in order to at least pay for their overhead, fees for services should be budgeted appropriately.  Regarding the copier purchase, Commissioner Blasi questioned if the paper flow will keep coming, Register Cousins replied yes, Commissioner Blasi stated “let’s do it.”  A copier has been offered from the Registry of Deeds that may suit the needs of the Registry of Probate.  More research will be needed prior to approving this possible solution.

10:42 a.m. – Break

10:49 a.m. – Back in session

06 - Maintenance

Proposed Revenues: $61,161

Proposed Expenditures: $404,335

Revenues were presented the same as in FY14.  Director Walls stated that salary increases were pre-determined as recommended by the clerk and CFO, regarding COLA’s.  Part-time was increased due to possible utilization of painting skills of a current part-time employee.  Painting/mudding and taping is needed throughout the building(s).  Employee Costs are dictated by wages.  Training was increased to cover the cost of Phase II of “Gas School.”  Account 06-10-007 Yards & Grounds has been modestly increased due to the previous winter; inmate help is utilized for yards & grounds work.  Inmate help frequency was discussed.  A check sheet along with inmate training was suggested for yards and groundwork continuity.  Gasoline has been moved to its own budget line.  Heating Fuel was reduced by $15,000; part of this cost will show up in the Heat Peters Building budget (06-15-400).  The 30% reduction is thanks to the propane conversion that has been tracked since March.  Trash Removal increased due to increased handling of trash, recycling and bulk paper removal.  $1,000 was included in the budget for account 06-15-400 Heat – Peters Building.  The change from fossil fuels to electric heat with fossil fuel back up will be tracked in the Peters Building and a savings will be incurred, right now the savings is unknown.  A dryer will be replaced under the Equipment account.  $17,000 has been budgeted to replace the maintenance truck; this is a place holder only.  CFO Roy suggested purchasing a dryer in the FY14 budget as there are currently funds available for the purchase.  FY14 heating is in good shape with an unexpended amount of $13,000 through the end of the year; tanks are full.  Oil that is currently in the Peters Building will be pumped out and moved to the jail; the jail will be charged for the oil.  A defective propane tank has been replaced by Sullivan & Merritt.  This is the first time in his career that Facilities Director Walls has seen a defect in a propane tank.  This took several hours of tracking and eliminating possibilities by the Facilities Director to find and correct the problem.  The purchase and painting of new propane tanks was discussed; a bill of sale for the new tanks was recommended.  Safety expenses were budgeted in account 06-20-500 General. The Heat/Air Conditioner plan, that includes heat pumps and a condensing gas boiler, will continue throughout FY15.  Electrical was reduced by $5,500 due to expected yearly rates.

05 - Office of Financial Affairs

Proposed Revenues: $50,500

Proposed Expenditures: $192,156

Misc County Revenue is usually received from the National Park Service.  The CFO and Treasurer wages were budgeted at 1.5% and the Deputy Treasurer wage was increased to 2% due to completed training and more duties.  A full-time position was included at $14 per hour and the part-time position was eliminated as he said that auditors have stated consistently that the department is understaffed.  Copier is a reflection of usage.  Advertising was increased in order to advertise for a full-time staff person.  Time Trak was increased due to the cost of the monthly maintenance agreement.  Equipment included $1,000 for the purchase of an additional computer for the Treasurer.  Commissioner Blasi stated that he did not accept this budget as presented for the same reason that he did not accept it for this year's budget on December 13, 2013, which is, he thought, the Office of Finance, the Chief Financial Officer should not exist and also, I think that we should discuss the part-time vs. full-time.  In my mind it's a question of...(didn't finish his thought), the administrative fee for the airport, I do not accept and I wonder if we could even get accounting done in the Finance Office for the airport up to 8-hours a week.  So, we're just approving a full-time person, can we give them at least that kind of responsibility to do airport accounting. CFO Roy responded by saying that it would be the managers discretion on how those employees are working.  The understanding is, if we are fortunate enough to get the position, duties would be divided between the two people which would relieve a tremendous amount of pressure on the deputy and administrator, at this point.  CFO Roy stated that we cannot bill directly to the airport, as we already have an agreement with the FAA for direct bill and indirect cost formula.  That would take us another 6-8 months to change, if we tried.  He did not know if the commissioners wanted to go through that and stated that it is a long process and not easy.  Commissioner Joy stated that the CFO is presenting his budget proposal, the commissioners are going to have their time to work on it and he moved the meeting along.

14 - Communications

Proposed Revenues: $1,400

Proposed Expenditures: $42,500

The increase in revenue was due to reimbursement from the UT and Jail for cell services.  Commissioner Blasi stated that in the last warrant he noticed that $2,515.64 for US Cellular debit was in question; CFO Roy stated that this has this been resolved, it was a matter of paperwork that had not caught up with the warrant.  Commissioner Joy stated that he would like to have access to the US Cellular bill, whether it’s through the commissioner’s office, the OFA or the other commissioners.  CFO Roy stated that it is on the CCT Share Drive.  Commissioner Joy stated that if he wants to check a bill, he wants to have access to see the bills.  Access is available through the CCT Share Drive and the Clerk has the password for internet access.  CFO Roy stated that there is a complete list of approved users available to the commissioners.  Commissioner Joy was interested in usage; CFO Roy reiterated that all bills are downloaded to the CCT Share Drive.

16 - Debt Service

Proposed Expenditures: $342,000

Jail Bond interest will be confirmed prior to the next meeting; there are approximately 6 years of payments remaining.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if this could be a possible agenda item for January 2015.  Commissioner Joy thought it was a bit early to discuss it.

20 - Health Insurance

Proposed Revenues: $112,891

Proposed Expenditures: $960,000

Revenues will be updated during the budget process.  $912,000 for Health Insurance and $48,000 for Health Insurance Buy-Outs is a placeholder until firmer numbers are known.  Account 20-110 Airplane Excise Tax is reflected accurately.

30 - Reserves

Proposed Expenditures: $318,000

$250,000 under the Building Reserve is a place holder and reflects replacing what has been spent over the year.  Commissioner Brown suggested putting in what has been taken out each year.  He stated that the Building Reserve account needs to be maintained in order to keep the building in good shape and to meet future plans.  The cost to date is approximately $151,000 – to $165,000 and does not include the Peters building.  $50,000 was included for the Health Trust which was funded with Undesignated Funds in FY14.

04 - County Commissioners

Proposed Expenditures: $207,093

Clerk DePrenger presented the Commissioners proposed budget which contained a 1.5% wage increase for the Manager and County Commissioners.  The Deputy Managers proposed wage increase was for $2,000 and was based upon cross training in sections of the OFA, completion of UT Registration training and obtaining her AA Degree in Business.  Employee Cost was a reflection of wage increases, Technology was increased by $1,000 to purchase a desktop computer and $2,100 was requested to purchase three new chairs for the commissioners bench, noting that Commissioner Blasi is content with his current, avocado green 1970's chair. Commissioner Blasi thanked the Clerk for her inclusion of Overdraft Notes in her presentation.  Regarding the potential employment of a County Administrator, Commissioner Brown stated that he has contacted two county administrators and one municipal administrator and has received job descriptions from neighboring counties which are similar in content but, there are differences in expectations and who they report to.  One county retained a County Clerk that is reflected as Deputy Clerk in the job description.  It was indicated that Hancock County may be able to hire a good administrator for approximately $65,000.  After averaging, the cost would be between $65,000 and $75,000.  The average wage is $76,307; remaining costs bring the entire cost to approximately $159,855.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the contract buyout.  Commissioner Brown explained that most professional administrators require a contract buyout due to the employer deciding that they do not want to continue employment after the first 6 months.  Commissioner Brown preferred that the first year buyout be less than half of the proposed salary.  If the person wanted to leave employment, a possible buyout would be included in their contract.  Attorney costs were not included in the proposed cost of the administrator.  Advertising and background checks would also be needed.  Commissioner Brown stated that managers who do not live in the same area/town tend not to last as long as managers who are located within the town/municipality; uprooting a family is the biggest drawback to the job.  Redundancy within the budget proposal has not been looked at, at this time.  Authority over elected officials was questioned.  Commissioner Brown stated that the job description would include “oversees all department heads.”  Commissioner Blasi stated that, that is not what is in the statute.  Commissioner Joy stated that a Charter may be needed to oversee elected officials.  Commissioner Brown stated that both counties who were spoken to regarding the context of the position felt a Charter was not needed.  The administrator would answer to the commissioners and oversee the department heads.  The key is getting the right personality to work with appointed and elected employees.  The administrator would be appointed by the commissioners to oversee the elected officials.  Commissioner Brown questioned how we are going to afford a county administrator adding that there are a lot of things in the budget that can be changed, we are getting two new department heads and reorganization may come.  If he had to cast his vote right now, he was not sure he would cast it due to the $159,000. cost.  Commissioner Brown stated some towns are supporting a Charter Commission but, in his opinion, the western part of the county will lose representation because it's going to go more towards the higher populated districts.  District II has the high taxpayers because they have higher valuations along the coast, outside of Bar Harbor and MDI.  The cost of a Charter Commission would put the FY15 budget increase well over one million dollars.  Space wise, there is not enough room for five commissioners in the current meeting room.  Commissioner Brown stated that the only reason we haven’t had a county administrator is the caliber of employees we currently have; this is a good opportunity that should be discussed.  Commissioner Brown stated that if we can afford it, he shoot for January 1, 2015.  Commissioner Blasi stated that he has not changed his position on the subject.  Commissioner Brown stated that he thought it was important to have a contract and know up front what we are getting.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if other employees would feel biased  against because they do not have a contract.  The answer to his question was uncertain.

The inclusion of the cost of the county administrator has not been included in the County Clerk's budget proposal, as not to skew the figures.  Commissioner Joy would like to see the cost included in the manager’s request and if it comes out, it comes out. Commissioner Brown would prefer to see it discussed further.

A commissioner’s budget workshop was scheduled for September 3, 2014 at 8:30 a.m.

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

After the motion to adjourn, CFO Roy requested direction on wages, he was instructed to use 1.5% as a COLA.  No vote was taken and Commissioner Brown had already left the meeting.

Respectfully,

 

C. DePrenger

County Clerk

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