Commissioner Agendas & Minutes
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, February 2, 2016 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Percy L. Brown Jr., and Antonio Blasi in attendance.
Adjustments to the agenda:
MOTION: to add items 2g, to change the March meeting date; to move item 6a to 2a-1 and to add item 7b, a discussion/signatures regarding updated RCC contracts. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve the minutes of the January 12, 2016 Commissioners' Regular Meeting and January 22, 2016 Commissioner’s Special Meeting. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Trenton Fire Chief Steve Corson gave a visual presentation and requested funding of $12,000 for a Bumper Turret. The Town of Trenton is scheduled to vote on the purchase of fire apparatus in May; the bumper turret is intended to assist with airport/airplane fires. The cost of the truck is approximately $345,000. Trenton Fire Department has responded approximately three times per year over the past five years to calls at the Hancock County Bar Harbor Airport, but it has been a while since there was a true fire incident. The County of Hancock donates $1,500 a year to the Trenton Fire Department; Commissioner Brown stated that he appreciates their response. Commissioner Brown questioned if the City of Ellsworth has similar equipment, they do not. Trenton Fire Department is a volunteer entity, not a full-time department. If an issue occurred the RCC would dispatch responders from a pre-approved list, mutual aid partners would be called in, if needed. Airport ARFF is not a 24 hour service, Trenton Fire Department is. A Bumper Turret could make the difference in lives saved and lives lost. EMA Director Andrew Sankey stated that the airport is mandated by the FAA to conduct a full scale exercise every 3 years and exercises each year, therefore Trenton Fire Department participants more than three times a year in airport response. Chief Corson was looking for funds to defray the cost prior to going to the Town Meeting.
Supervisor Billings introduced Trail Master Peter Poors and his wife Sharon of the Airline Riders Snowmobile Club; who expressed their interest in purchasing grooming equipment. Supervisor Billings stated that funds exist in the Bull Hill and Hancock Wind TIF for this type of request. Mr. Poors stated that the State of Maine will no longer groom most trails. He was looking to purchase equipment at a cost of $70,000. $20,000 of the purchase price is being requested from Hancock County and an additional $20,000 is being requested from Washington County; the remainder will be requested from the State of Maine. The Airline Riders Snowmobile Club are responsible for approximately 62 miles of trails from Nicatous to the Airport in Deblois. ITS Trails (International Trail System) have to be at least 8ft. wide. The question was asked “if they are giving them the trail, why they are not giving them the equipment.” State owned equipment has to be put out to bid. Commissioner Blasi asked if the paperwork trail has begun (via the legislature). Commissioner Brown stated that State surplus equipment can be bid on. Supervisor Billings stated that the State has two options, 1) for Municipalities and 2) a public auction. Municipalities receive better deals than public auctions. It is impossible to groom all the trails with one piece of equipment. The Club would own and maintain the equipment. Commissioner Joy stated that the commissioners were not prepared to answer the request today. Supervisor Billings stated that when speaking with the Snow Mobile Club Treasurer, he stated that TIF Funds are not available but Community Benefit Funds may be available and suggested that other options may also be available (example, the Club could pursue purchasing the equipment and have the county help make payments.) Commissioner Blasi questioned why the legislative process has not been followed more closely; it will not be introduced in the Legislature until April 2, 2016. This group is not connected to the Rocky Mt. ATV Club. There is one club in this area but the trails are open to everyone whether they are a club member or a private individual. The Club is prepared to pay for maintenance and fuel within their budget. Commissioner Joy stated that consideration will be given to the proposal but encouraged them to continue pursuit of other equipment and funds.
Rudman and Winchell has stated that they have a conflict of interest regarding representation of Hancock County in its suit against the State of Maine. Bill Dale Esq. of Jenson, Baird was recommended.
MOTION: to engage Bill Dale of Jensen, Baird as legal counsel in the case of Hancock County vs. the State of Maine (jail issue). (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to move 2015 Community Benefit Funds into capital account 3-3025-00. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Brown questioned why the commissioners wanted to do this as the funds are already in the General Fund Account. Commissioner Joy stated that $400,000 of Community Benefit Funds have been committed to reduce the budget, he would like to see all of the funds in one place. Commissioner Blasi would also like to see a separate Community Benefit Bank Account for accuracy of knowing that the funds are actually there. Commissioner Brown assured that the money is there and cannot be drawn out of the account without the commissioner’s authorization. Commissioner Joy stated that the accountant has asked the County to close checking accounts, this is the same idea, it would come out of the General Account and be shown in a Capital Account so it can be seen on a monthly basis; it is committed now until the accountant is done and he would like to see it in one place. Commissioner Blasi stated that in the Bank it’s still in the General Account. Commissioner Brown reiterated that the commissioners are the only ones who tell the Treasurer to make transfers. Commissioner Blasi stated that he has requested before and still maintains the position that reserve funds should have separate bank accounts; meaning all Capital Accounts as a whole should be in one separate bank account in order to “see it in the bank.” Commissioner Joy stated “we disagree”.
Commissioner Joy stated that the configuration of Financial Assistant/Clerk desk space is huge, in his opinion, it fills the whole room. Commissioner Brown liked the configuration, Commissioner Blasi stated that it looks efficient and he has not heard any comments from staff regarding inefficiency, he liked it.
Commissioner Joy stated that a letter was given to the County Administrator regarding the terms of his separation, he asked if there was a motion to accept the letter.
MOTION: to accept this letter dated January 28th. (Blasi/Joy 2-1, motion passed, Brown opposed)
Commissioner Joy stated that there is a run out on the agreement with the County Administrator regarding settlement, he would like to see the County Administrator position left vacant until the run out is over. By Statute, without a County Administrator the County Clerk becomes de facto Administrator under Statute. Commissioner Blasi stated that the commissioners should now state that the County Clerk position is now in effect. Regarding the separation of the County Administrator; in accordance with legal counsel, the commissioners used the no-cause termination with the County Administrator, we just have to notify him which is what was done.
Cynthia DePrenger was named as County Clerk as a revision prior to the County Administrator. Departments Heads were encouraged go through her, her office, until the commissioners make the decision to change again. The run-out is in between 8 and 11 weeks. Reinstitution of liaisons was discussed, this will be discussed in the March meeting.
District Attorney, Matthew Foster requested cell phone reimbursement for the DA Administrative Assistant as she utilizes her personal cell phone for work purposes both outside and during work hours. Commissioner Blasi asked if there was a protocol regarding who gets cell phones. The 2015 budget was under spent by $8,000 and cut by $1,000. Commissioner Blasi suggested reviewing cell phone users at the March meeting.
MOTION: to grant the DA’s request for cell phone reimbursement for Terry Campbell in the amount of $50 per month. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: any further requests should/will be subject to approval by the county commissioners. Commissioner Brown did not want to lose sight of the cost of the cell phone plan. Commissioner Joy stated that US Cellular should be contacted annually for better deals. Also, the list of cell phone users and costs should be reviewed annually. Currently there is an extra line available on the phone bill. Commissioner Blasi questioned if the phone user log should be reviewed at the next meeting; Commissioner Joy stated that it should be reviewed within the next two meetings.
The March meeting was changed to March 8th at 8:30 a.m.
The airport monthly report included a Workers Compensation update regarding AFFF rates, the USDOT has issued an RFP for Essential Air Services proposals by air carriers for service at BHB, PBG and PQI; the response deadline is February 9th. ARFF Fees have been reviewed and are consistent with the last cycle, Terminal Building Fees increased slightly and Utility/Janitorial Fees were calculated at $24, Variable Enplanement Fees will remain the same. The airport monthly report also included an Airport Advisory Committee update, and update regarding an extension to Columbia Air Service and their request to formally respond to a letter dated 12/10/15, Manager Madeira stated that this letter was well written, well-articulated and answered the airport manager concerns in his letter of December 10th; he felt that Columbia has done a good job of explaining the situation. Annual employee training requirements have been completed.
MOTION: to approve the Cape Air Lease and Operating Rights Amendment #1 and authorize the chairman to sign the agreement. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: MDOT has extended the EAS Order through June.
MOTION: to approve the Pen Air Lease and Operating Rights Agreement dated February 2, 2016 and authorize the chairman to sign the lease. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: this agreement had expired and a new one was written; the term is May 30, 2016 to June 30, 2016. This is for the same terms as the previous year. Commissioner Blasi was concerned with a lapse in the agreement. The agreement will transition to a month-to-month basis should this happen. This lease extends the period of time.
MOTION: to approve the appointment of Nate Holyoke as District II representative to the Airport Advisory Committee. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
10:30 a.m.: Break 10:43 a.m.: Back in session
Treasurer Eldridge presented the monthly financial reports and an update on the AR. Commissioner Brown stated that he was contacted by the Stonington Town Manager regarding comments made at the January meeting about Stonington not paying their bills. He stated that we need to be careful about that because the Manager has taken a lot of static from the town’s people about this comment; he stated that it was not true, she was up to date on everything. The County Administrator as well as the Treasurer reviewed the financials and responded to her inquiry. Treasurer Eldridge stated that she was satisfied with her explanation. She did not realize that “we would put down the $10,000 budgeted figure, and Stonington did not use that much in the way of services and they did pay everything in full.” Commissioner Brown stated that we have to be careful with some of these towns especially when you charge them out and they already fall into the 30 or 60 day period. Town Treasurers and Managers are directly responsible to the people and when the people say they are not paying bills, people get excited about it.
Commissioner Joy questioned an amount of $1,791.08 being charged to the County Commissioners; this was for UT RCC Services billed to the UT. He asked that the title be changed to something more appropriate.
MOTION: to approve January 2016 expenditures in the health insurance account in the amount of $67,007.73. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: We are now eating into the 2015 surplus and will be doing so through March. Commissioner Blasi questioned if the commissioners wanted to make any movement with regard to the surplus in the Health Insurance Checking Account. A discussion followed regarding closing/not closing this account. It was explained that the purpose of this account is to pay for employee health insurance.
MOTION: to approve the request to close a Camden Nation Bank NOW Checking Account and move funds to General Fund account at Machias Savings. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve the 2016 Recapitulation. (Brown/Joy 2-1, motion, Blasi opposed) Discussion: Commissioner Brown questioned the negative amount of $62,592 shown on the front page of the budget owed by the State of Maine and stated that he thought the amount should be added. Commissioner Joy stated that it was beyond commissioner authority to spend these funds. This amount was not agreed to be put out to taxation. Commissioner Brown questioned how to account for this number. The answer was unknown.
MOTION: to authorize the Treasurer to send out tax bills. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
11:05 p.m.: Commissioner Joy left the meeting.
MOTION: to approve January General Fund and Airport Payroll Warrants #16-1, #16-1a, #16-2 and #16-3 in the aggregate of $166,083.48. (Brown/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve January General Fund and Airport Expense Warrants #15-64, 16-65, #16-1 and #16-2 in the aggregate of $320,765.79. (Brown/ motion failed for lack of 2nd) Commissioner Blasi did not 2nd the motion due to overdrafts included in the warrant.
MOTION: to approve January Jail and UT Fund Payroll Warrants #16-1, #16-1a, #16-2 and #16-3 in the aggregate of $71,598.52. (Brown/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve January Jail and UT Fund Expense Warrants #15-29, 16-1 and #16-29 in the aggregate of $60,079.44. (Brown/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to pay Chief Deputy Kane a $300 stipend while Director Wellman is on vacation. (Blasi/Brown 2-0, motion passed)
Director Wellman requested signatures for updated RCC contracts; she was directed to hold the contracts until all three commissioners are present and more contracts are received.
Commissioner Blasi asked if anything has developed from the Structural Analysis Report; nothing has come back yet. He questioned if Waldo 2 will be viable, the answer was uncertain at this time. Once a site visit is made and costs are calculated Director Wellman will have a better answer. Commissioner Brown stated that the Structural Analysis did not pinpoint the reasons why the tower was not viable. Director Wellman stated that she saw some things in the analysis and will be happy to point them out to him.
MOTION: to approve the hire of Alisa Marie Runnells Bragg of Ellsworth as a part-time cook at the rate of $12 per hour, no benefits, not to exceed 29 hours per week, effective February 6, 2016. (Blasi/Brown 2-0, motion passed)
Sheriff Kane requested commissioner approval to go out to bid for cruisers. Three cruisers have been budgeted for 2016. He stated that one would be purchased now and the remaining two would be purchased at the end of the summer. Commissioner Brown requested that this be put off until the March meeting once the audit report is complete and cash flow is coming in. An RFP will not go out now.
MOTION: to approve the hire of Brian Tripp of Sedgwick as a part-time deputy at the rate of $12.50 per hour, effective February 6, 2016 not to exceed 29 hours per week. (Brown/Blasi 2-0, motion passed) Discussion: Sheriff Kane stated that part-time staff is limited; there are currently two active part-timer deputies; the State has made it difficult to retain part-time officers, and the full-time staff is secure.
Chief Deputy Kane stated that recently the Sheriff’s Office has learned that Hancock County will be the recipient of one of the most recent approved Drug Agents; this will raise our officer level to 4. The arrangement that has been made with Maine Drug is that the position will be the position that is assumed by the Mt. Desert Island Officer, this will save the County money. The officer has been selected by Maine Drug and will begin duties on March 1st. At some time in the near future, the Sheriff will come before the commissioners to ask for another one of his officers to “back-fill” the vacant position that is County funded. There are two County funded positions with one currently assigned.
Commissioner Brown reiterated that a task force is needed to address the heroin epidemic; he has started a three point plan. Hopefully they will have a program together by Spring to address education, enforcement and rehabilitation. He believed that the majority of the commissioners are in favor of utilizing Community Benefit funds toward the project. Commissioner Brown requested a meeting within the next few weeks with the Sheriff/staff to discuss the issue.
CD Kane stated that Spillman Software has been utilized by the Sheriff’s Office since 1988, in his opinion it is the best software reporting system for law enforcement available. Last year the Police Chiefs of Hancock County met with EMA Director Sankey to request specific modules that they wanted to add to the software program; grant funding was secured to add seven different reporting modules to the existing Spillman System. This is in the process and has been approved and they are looking to bring it live in April; as a result of that it increased the working relationship with every law enforcement entity within the County as well as the Maine State Police. Bar Harbor, Southwest Harbor, and Bucksport Police Departments have all been approved to come on board with Hancock County’s Spillman Reporting System. Basically every law enforcement entity in Hancock County will now be contributing to one reporting system. The Maine State Policy will be joining Spillman, they will not be contributing data to our system but their data, and much like other Counties in Maine is available to Hancock County. The agreement with those communities is that they have to pay their licensing fees through Spillman to come onto our system, they are also paying their own yearly maintenance fees that are charged by Spillman, however with the new modules, in 2017 there will be an increase to the Sheriff’s Office for Spillman Support for the addition of the modules and also for the addition of the other agencies as well. The account affected would be 3325. 2016 Spillman cost have been paid for modules that are in existence now. The increase for 2017 should be approximately $15,000. Commissioner Blasi questioned if Spillman can compensate for the lack of radio reception in some areas. Sometimes deputies can still communicate over Spillman when there is no radio service available.
Commissioner Brown asked “what do we do when the jail money runs out?” This is coming soon and we need to have a plan in place very soon; he did not see anything happening in the Legislature. Commissioner Blasi questioned how the Corporal Stanley temporary full-time position was going. There was no answer.
Commissioner Brown stated that he recently read about a grant received by Penobscot County in the amount of $500,000 to improve their RCC facility. Director Wellman stated that a Municipality would need to be onboard in order for the grant to be approved. Commissioner Brown stated that he wanted some of that money; Director Wellman did too.
EMA Director Sankey stated that he has recommended that the Town of Trenton pursue through the Fire Fighters Grant Program, a grant to pay for their fire truck or a component grant to pay for the turret. It appears that there may be a fall grant available to build out that equipment.
11:37 a.m.: Break for lunch 12:30 p.m.: Back in session
Sheriff Kane stated that the State is going to fund a new position in the DTF; the officer will come from Mt. Desert or Bar Harbor. This will create a back fill position within the SO budget to hire a deputy for less than the budgeted $79,000. The most expensive agent will be paid for by the State MDEA. There is no issue with territorial issues between the Town of Mt. Desert and the County.
Sheriff Kane asked for approval to spend $1,686.86 from account G1-3013-50 to pay for repairs of ceased assets. Commissioner Blasi questioned the amount in account G1-3013-50. The funds would come back to the county once the case is settled. This account was established to defray cost associated with the DTF.
MOTION: to grant the sheriff request of $1,686.86 defer the cost of repair for equipment ceased, understanding that the sheriff will resell the equipment, from account G1-3013-50. (Blasi/Brown 2-0, motion passed)
Sheriff Kane stated that secure, inexpensive storage is needed. Commissioner Blasi asked if an RFP has been considered. At one point, airport storage was discussed. Due to FAA guidelines this was not applicable. Trenton currently has a moratorium on storage facilities. There are two huge cases in the pipeline that may result in thousands of dollars. Sheriff Kane asked if the funds could be put in an account that can be used above and beyond budgeted items. Commissioner Brown stated that this is what the DTF account is for; his request may be a problem as he is looking to fund non budgeted items in Department 10. Commissioner Brown did not mind a lock box for the Task Force but hesitated to fund one out of DTF funds for Department 10.
Commissioner Brown would like to meet sometime next week about the Heroin epidemic to lay out his proposal and to discuss getting towns/participants on board. Education is key to results. The National Sheriff’s Association has been contacted regarding this issue. Legislation is discussed via conference call every Tuesday at 9:00 a.m.
MOTION: to approve January General Fund and Airport Expense Warrants #15-64, 16-65, #16-1 and #16-2 in the aggregate of $320,765.79. (Brown/Blasi 2-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi did not support the last General fund warrant from 2015 because of overdrafts; he supported the FY16 warrants.
Commissioner Joy returned at 1:05 p.m. and was updated on previous business. By the March meeting, the commissioners will have to consider what to do with the jail due to the State shortfall; legislation and a loan were discussed. Currently the deficit sits at $180,000. Somerset County has stated that they could take inmates for a price. Commissioner Brown stated that over the past few years there has been a trend for patrol to transport inmates. Commissioner Brown would not go along with extending a loan as suggested by Commissioner Joy. A stop gap loan does not take care of the rest of the year. Commissioner Joy was still looking for legislation to correct the problem, which is the only way he would lend funds to the jail.
MOTION: to adjourn. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)