Commission Chairman Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:30 am on Friday, January 22, 2016 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Percy L. Brown, Jr., and Antonio Blasi and County Administrator (CA) Eugene Conlogue in attendance. 

Adjustments to the agenda: 

MOTION: to add item 4b, to schedule a grievance hearing and item 4c approval of agreement with Stop Loss carrier. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)  


MOTION to approve the promotion of Dan Davis to Temporary Full-Time at the rate of $13.50 per hour, effective February 6, 2016. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) 

District Attorney:

District Attorney Matthew Foster requested, by email, a monthly cell phone reimbursement for one of his employees.  Commissioner Joy stated that he was not necessarily in favor of the request due to the 7:30 to 4:00 status of the position. 

MOTION: to approve cell phone reimbursement for the DA’s Admin assistant. Brown/Blasi motion and 2nd withdrawn) 

Old Business:

Finalization of the FY16 County Budget:

Commissioner Blasi asked commissioners Joy and Brown if their desire was to balance the 2015 budget.  He requested to remove some transfer requests (from the 1/12/16 CRM) to bring to this meeting if the commissioners wanted to balance it. 

CA Conlogue distributed spreadsheets via e-mail that had been compiled by him and reviewed by the treasurer, deputy treasurer and personnel coordinator, he began his presentation by discussing health insurance numbers; the County expended $1,512,791.06 in claims and administrative costs.  When employee buy-outs are added and employee contributions are subtracted from this amount, the net cost to the County was $1,373,941.49.  The auditors will make an entry to charge the first three months of the 2016 run-out (January, February, and March) to 2015. 

The FY16 overall budgeted cost for health insurance is $1,523,044.  After anticipated buy-outs are added and employee contributions are subtracted, the net estimated cost of health insurance for 2016 is $1,362,227.  CA Conlogue did not recommend altering employee co-pays or deductibles for 2016.  The fixed cost for year 2016 has gone up, it changes monthly.  We are awaiting a response from Meritain Health regarding the increase.  Commissioner Joy stated that he felt that expensive Stop Loss Claims may be the reason for the increase.  Further in the meeting it was noted that Broker Commissioners for the last three months of 2015 were billed in January 2016, thus causing a $5,000 increase. 

CA Conlogue stated that estimated excess revenue as of January 20, 2016 is $165,522.57; estimated unexpended funds total $609,323.66 for a total of $775,516.24.  Commissioner Blasi asked if this amount is what is currently reflected in TRIO.  It is as close to an actual amount, after the last warrant, as he could come and is a good figure as of two days ago; it should not be confused with the final figure once the auditor completes the audit.  Commissioner Blasi asked if the commissioners wanted to use the spreadsheet proposals or TRIO numbers.  Commissioner Brown preferred to base his opinion on the proposal presented. 

A list of proposed transfers from 2015 70 accounts were included in the packet; they are available, upon request, in the County Administrator’s Office.  Proposed transfers totaled $21,648.03.  Commissioner Joy questioned the County Administrator and Treasurer about their comfort level with the 70 accounts presented; they were each comfortable with the numbers.  When asked about their comfort level regarding the 70 accounts presented, the Personnel Coordinator and Deputy Treasurer each stated that they had no opinion.  Commissioner Joy wanted to make sure that the numbers were 100% accurate.  Commissioner Brown stated that some 70 accounts are budgeted accounts and are partially utilized during the year, he asked if CA Conlogue was moving the total amount budgeted or were the unused portions being turned over to undesignated funds.  Other possible transfers included the creation of a Health Insurance Lock Box in the amount of (approximately) $153,682.92.  The purposed EMA health insurance transfer in the amount of $24,661.35 was originally budgeted for a potential second person with a family health insurance plan.  Commissioner Joy stated that this figure needed to be adjusted down, making no surplus in EMA, CA Conlogue disagreed and stated that the amount should be approximately half of the amount spent, the residual amount would still be left over in the account that could be moved to a capital account.  The amount agreed upon was $12,000.  The unused portion of the EMA Deputy’s salary is not included in the amount shown. 

CA Conlogue stated that the potential health insurance surplus totaled $150,764.30.  Commissioner Joy suggested the amount of $100,000 as the potential run-out for FY16.  Once the EMA health account is adjusted down to $12,661.35 and $100,000 is subtracted for the FY16 run-out the Lock Box total would be approximately $40,000.  Commissioner Blasi asked if the Lock Box will be formally established.  Commissioner Joy stated that the auditor will establish the amount for the lock box and the commissioners will designate the amount after they received the auditor’s report.  The Drug Task Force health insurance was reported as negative $21,742.73.  Commissioner Joy stated that the Dug Task Force is supposed to reimburse the County for some of their cost; he was not sure of how the negative number came to be as we were down an officer for several months and requested that this be researched.  CA Conlogue stated that the DTF experienced a large increase over the course of two months that drove the total into the negative.  Sheriff Kane noted that total revenues received almost cover the cost of the expenditures.  Commissioner Blasi questioned why the revenues were not attributed to the cost of expenses.  Sheriff Kane stated that the county has not yet been reimbursed. 

Department 30 Retirement and Building reserve accounts totaled $110,000; CA Conlogue recommended that this amount be moved to capital reserve accounts.  Commissioner Joy stated that he would like to see this transfer made.  Commissioner Brown agreed.  Commissioner Blasi was concerned that funds were spent from this account in 2015. 

CA Conlogue stated that the EMA LEPC account in the amount of $1,261.33 has to be moved to capital reserves and that the capital reserve account already exists; he was advised by the EMA Administrative Assistant to put the funds in the 6-3021-20 account. 

CA Conlogue recommended that a transfer $200,001.60 be formally approved for transfer to the appropriate capital reserve account 3-3025-00; these funds were received in October 2015.  Commissioner Brown preferred to leave the funds where they are as the commissioners can move the funds at anytime. 

The potential year end surplus, according the CA Conlogue, totaled $775,516.24, less potential transfers of $486,585.20; this would leave a net FY15 potential surplus of $288,931.04. 

Commissioner Blasi disagreed with the potential year end surplus amount and presented a number of $256.768.  There is no 2% Overlay shown in the spreadsheet although the Overlay is shown in Department 51 in the Town Taxes.  Unexpended taxes/the Overlay goes to unexpended surplus.  Commissioner Joy asked if the Community Benefit transfer was included in the $486,585.20, the answer was yes.  Commissioner Joy stated that it would not be taken from surplus, it would be available as surplus.  He suggested that $200,001.60 be removed from the total along with $100,000 from the health account.  $90,000 was committed to reduce to taxation in FY15 that was not used.  The number is a lot bigger than he thought it should be.  The jail is also a factor that is not being added into the equation.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the difference in the January 20th and January 22nd expenses of fund revenue.  The airport is included in Fund 1. 

Commissioner Brown asked if Community Benefit funds have been included as potential surplus funds; they were used in CA Conlogue totals, they are not in Fund 1; they are in Fund 6.  Initially the $608,000 is only in Fund 1 and does not include Community Benefit funds.  Commissioner Brown stated that there is no way that we have that kind of money, it’s just not there.  He expressed his discomfort with the numbers. 

Commissioner Joy stated that with proposed adjustments, the potential year-end surplus totaled $588,415 (this does not include Community Benefit Funds) 

In order to reduce the BAC approved budget to the 1.58% LD1 Growth Factor, CA Conlogue suggested $383,338 in Offsets; $225,000 from the Community Benefit Fund and $158,338 from 2015 projected year-end surplus.  Although the numbers were altered during the meeting, CA Conlogue still recommended the same sources for offsets.  Suggested actions included: 1) Review and consider approval of all or some of the transfers shown. 2) As a separate action, approve the transfer of the Community Benefit Funds to capital account 3-3025-00. 3) Formally vote to establish a Health Insurance Lock-Box capital account and 4) Adopt the 2016 General Fund budget as summarized on the spreadsheet titled Proposal to Finalize 2016 Budget, including the use of $225,000 in Community Benefit Funds from Capital Account 3-3025-00 and the use of $158,338 in estimated 2015 general fund surplus. 

Commissioner Blasi preferred to work out of the BAC Summary of proposals.  Commissioner Joy stated that a couple things need to be worked on, the Workers Compensation total needs to be included in the budget and the budget needs to be reduced below 1.58%, he explained that the commissioners are operating off of the same numbers. 

Commissioner Joy stated that there was almost a $600,000 surplus, not including Community Benefit Funds or the $90,000 available from last year and proposed a zero increase.  Commissioner Brown questioned what Community Benefit funds would be used, the reply was October 2015 funds.  The commissioners already voted to create a Lock Box in a previous meeting and back in 2014 when Community Benefit funds $($90,000) were moved to a capital account, the funds were designated to reduce taxes in 2015, it has not yet been used, was not needed and can be used for 2016; he was not comfortable with the bottom line number in Undesignated Funds.  If the numbers were correct, they should be used to reduce taxation.  He was unsure where the $121,000 for the jail that was paid out of the General Fund will fall.  The shortfall will fall under a 2015 expense; it was questioned if it had been taken out of the County 2015 Undesignated Fund.  The funds were used to pay for the jail control panel.  Commissioner Brown stated that it should come out of Undesignated Funds.  Commissioner Joy stated that $60,000 should have been left over. 

The $24,000 in Undesignated Surplus from the 2014 budget was also a factor.  $90,000 could be used to reduce the FY16 budget.  Commissioner Brown cautioned reducing the budget to zero as there are necessary projects on the horizon to include the heroin epidemic.  Commissioner Joy would like to use $400,000 from surplus to reduce the FY16 budget and put a freeze on $400,000 of Community Benefit Funds, which will leave approximately $50,000 for special projects.  Commissioner Brown stated that a 1.5% increase is not a large increase and that, in his opinion, the budget should be expanded due to economic growth. 

MOTION: to add to the 2016 BAC budget the Workers Compensation expenditure of $47,025. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that it seems to be a tremendous increase in the Workers Compensation (WC) totals.  He was more comfortable with the increase due to receiving an explanation from Maine Municipal Association (MMA) and hoped for a further explanation upon further review.  Commissioner Blasi brought to the commissioners attention an e-mail from MMA dated January 21, 2016.  Commissioner Joy stated that for budgetary purposes, WC was consulted and numbers were provided; he did not want to see it under funded like last year. 

Commissioner Joy stated that the jail deficit totaled $62,561; by law the taxpayers of Hancock County are not supposed to make this up, Commissioner Blasi stated that “we are trying to change that.”  Commissioner Blasi stated that if we win this law suit which allows us to use Operating Funds/General Funds to cover jail expenses that is part of what we are asking for in the suit.  Commissioner Joy stated that it doesn’t, the law says that you will only raise X amount of dollars.  Commissioner Blasi stated that the attorney’s opinion stated that it would allow “us” to…..turn things around so that we were legit in doing that.  Commissioner Blasi preferred to go ahead and cover the budget.  Commissioner Joy was uncertain what to do and stated that the commissioners had to make a decision on what to do with the $62,561.  Sheriff Kane was questioned regarding the number, he stated that it was a definite maybe there are many variables.  Commissioner Brown stated that there will not be enough votes to include it in the budget.  Commissioner Joy stated that the State may fund the deficit, you don’t know yet.  There is movement towards supplemental funding that the County will apply for.  Commissioner Joy stated that the law also stated that we cannot raise the money in taxation.  The sheriff’s Association was made aware of the Hancock County suit. 

The following was proposed:

Expenditures totaled: $5,742,749.
Offsets: $90,000 in FY15 Community Benefit Funds plus $400,000 in Community Benefit Funds. $400,000 would be frozen and $400,000 would be used from surplus, leaving $50,000 in Community Benefit funds for other uses.  Commissioner Blasi stated that the chairman expressed confidence in the surplus, use it.  Under this scenario the percentage increase would be 2.44% 

10:40 a.m.: Break   10:45 a.m.: Back in Session 

This is a $5,000 increase over last year.  Commissioner Brown stated that we needed an Overlay, if we had not had an overlay last year we would have thought about going out to a TAN.  In prior years, all except one, we have had on Overlay.  A $100,000 Overlay would increase taxation by 1%.  CA Conlogue disagreed and stated that the increase would be 2% 

With a $100,000 Overlay the amount to be raised by taxation would be $5,342,749.  The Overlay is not affected by the LD1 Tax Cap.  Commissioner Joy questioned the percentage increase if using $100,000 in Overlay plus $5,000 it would be 1.96926093%.  Commissioner Brown suggested a $50,000 Overlay plus $5,000 which would bring the budget increase to .9845% increase. 

Commissioner Blasi requested the commissioners to consider the effect of the 1.58% LD1 Cap Limit prior to taking a vote and requested to leave out the Overlay.  The consensus between Commissioners Joy and Brown was to approve a $50,000 Overlay, an increase in the budget of $5,000, use of undesignated funds and freeze $400,000 in Community Benefit Funds which would allow approximately $50,000 in Community Benefit funds for special projects.  Commissioner Blasi preferred not to use an Overlay. 

MOTION: to approve a $50,000 Overlay and increase the budget by $5,000 and use undesignated funds in the amount of $400,000 from FY15 and freeze the $400,000 in Community Benefit Funds for an increase of .9845%. (Brown/Joy 2-1, motion passed Blasi opposed)  Discussion: The amount to be raised by taxation totaled $5,392,749 which is an increase of .9845% and includes a $50,000 Overlay.  Commissioner Blasi commented that if the motion were done as two different motions, it may get him more interested; he did not approve of the Overlay as he thought it should be zero. 


MOTION: to adjust the agenda to go to the adjustments to the agenda. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed. 

CA Conlogue requested to schedule a grievance hearing.  It was explained that a memorandum from the County Commissioners from 2011 stated that grievances should be reviewed by the commissioners prior to the department head making a decision, therefore Director Wellman did not make a response to the grievance.  Commissioner Brown questioned why the commissioners would hold a hearing on something that is not paid by the county.  Commissioner Brown stated that according to the union contract the commissioners should not take action until the Department Head has responded.  Commissioner Joy stated that a hearing should be scheduled because we may have culpability.  Commissioner Brown preferred to follow the Union Contract.  Commissioner Joy stated that a letter was written in 2011 due to actions from a past Department Head.  Commissioner Blasi agreed with Commissioner Brown regarding following the contract.  Regarding the 2011 letter, Commissioner Brown stated that the Department head should have come to the commissioners to make a decision; the timeline has already passed.  Commissioner Joy stated that if the county is at fault this should be talked about; the County has submitted a letter to the carrier on behalf of the employee in order for the funds to be restored to the employee.  Commissioner Brown stated that the union contract needs to followed and not veered from due to past practice implications.  Commissioner Joy requested an executive session with the RCC Director for the next meeting should the issue not work itself out. 

MOTION: to authorize the chairman to sign the Stop Loss Agreement. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) 

MOTION: to enter into executive session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6A to conduct the County Administrator’s Annual Evaluation. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) 

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into regular session at 12:50 with nothing to report. 

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


Cynthia DePrenger
Personnel Coordinator

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