Commissioner Agendas & Minutes
COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING
Commission Chairman Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners at 8:30 am on Thursday, February 18, 2016 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Percy L. Brown Jr., and Antonio Blasi in attendance.
Commissioner Joy stated that the agenda concerned the County Administrator but will morph into the commissioner’s philosophy going forward. The League of Towns has a concern about what the commissioners will be doing about the position of County Administrator; it is his opinion that county government, going forward, believes in the County Administrator system. It is time to look at the ad and the job description as they begin the preparation process of continuing with another County Administrator. Commissioner Blasi stated that he thought a vote was not needed, it is in the budget and the commissioners can decide to rehire. An ad would need to be approved and the process to move forward would have to be discussed, agreed upon and voted on. Commissioner Blasi stated that he did not see a need to vote on a position that is already established. Commissioner Brown stated that the commissioners need to decide if they want to go back to a County Administrator, right now we have a County Clerk, we need to have either one or the other. The former administrator will be paid through April 21st. Commissioner Joy stated that the process/discussion needs to begin now. Commissioner’s Joy, and Brown were in favor of having a county administrator. Commissioner Blasi has already stated his position on record.
MOTION: to go back to the County Administrator form of County government, look over the job description and the ad and begin the process for search. (Brown/Joy 2-0-1, motion passed, Blasi abstained) Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated that as an emphasis for the county administrator the commissioners should consider their financial background. Accounting programs/software also needs to be evaluated. TRIO is a Canadian company and the customer service has deteriorated. The County Administrator may be charged with evaluating new accounting programs/software along with the Treasurer. Commissioner Brown stated that the last time the commissioners searched for a county administrator, they did not emphasize financial background and knowledge; this time he would like to seek a candidate with extensive experience in finance rather than governmental management. There is not a large pool in administrators who have experience in County Government; sometimes administrators can make the switch from Municipal Government to County Government and some can’t. Commissioner Joy stated that sometimes the ad is used to eliminate people, he would like to consider people who don’t have an extensive administrative background given the opportunity to apply for the position.
Commissioner Joy has asked the Clerk to attend the League of Towns meeting in order to make their membership aware of the Commissioners position. This emphasizes that the county commissioners are committed to having a County Administrator. The League also is interested in a County Charter; Commissioner Joy stated that he is not opposed to a Charter but it is approximately a one year process and changes would be made; changes may affect the Budget Advisory Committee, Statutes would be affected and redistricting may occur. Commissioner Brown was opposed to a county charter as it may eliminate small town representation; with a good administrator and good department heads, he felt it was not necessary. It is also more costly. Funding for a Charter Commission comes from the tax payer. The Clerk was charged to ask the question, “what is their agenda, what is their point of emphasis as to why we should have a charter, and what they think will be achieved by having a Charter. Commissioner Blasi questioned who determines the membership of the Charter Commission. Commissioner Brown stated that this would eliminate elected officials, except for the sheriff. Membership of the Charter Commission is determined in Statute. The commissioners were in consensus to send the Clerk to the League of Towns meeting with the prescribed questions.
The auditor will be here March 15-18 preparing for the end of March audit. Commissioner Joy encouraged Commissioners Blasi and Brown to ask questions of the auditor.
The Commissioners reviewed and made changes to the county administrator newspaper ad and job description. Commissioner Joy stated that the first time the commissioners wanted someone with a big background but what they have seen is that they need someone with a stronger financial background and the commissioners can take care of the rest. When asked when the ad would go out, Commissioner Joy stated that we have operated under a County Clerk system for 150 years, if we went an extra week it wouldn’t matter. The salary for an experienced individual would be greater than someone with less experience. Should the perfect candidate apply the salary could be increased by a vote of the County Commissioners. The salary range will be somewhat lower than previously offered to somewhat higher than previously paid.
Regarding the job description, the ability to implement progressive discipline is a necessary requirement of the job. Under Financial Administration, the expectation of hands on knowledge of financial software was added. The commissioner’s expectation is to make sure that the candidate has the actual, hands on, ability to use our system or get us a new one or help in the implementation of it. Goals and expectation of the county administrator have been stated in the record and will be discussed during the interview process.
Ads will be placed in the Bangor Daily News, the Maine Municipal Association website, the Portland Sunday Telegram, the Ellsworth American and NACo. The ad will close 3 weeks after the final ad is run. The County will may or may not choose to fly in candidates.
The next warrant will be the first week of March. There may be more Journal entries this year than in the past because the transition within the Treasurers Department and the exit of the County Administrator.
Clerk DePrenger stated that her job did not change while the County Administrator was employed; during that time she continued to do the work of the County Clerk, Deputy County Clerk and also some of the CFO duties. She also performed secretarial duties for the administrator. Clerk DePrenger wanted to know how or if this would change with the new administrator; she stated that she is always happy to help County staff and is happy being the County Clerk but the work she performed in the previous year was not the work that was approved by the county commissioners.
Commissioner Brown discussed new proposed legislation regarding remote attendance at meetings. As a member of the Right to Know Committee, he strongly opposed this. If you are person elected by the people, you should attend meetings, not be on a beach somewhere. Commissioner Joy stated that the proposed legislation allows for a policy to be written and approved by the voters. Currently the law says that you cannot participate remotely; Commissioner Brown was not sure if the Maine County Commissioners Association supported this legislation.
Commissioner Joy stated that he is on the MCCA Legislative Policy Committee and cannot take part in the weekly conference call on Friday’s at 10:00, he encouraged Commissioners Blasi and Brown to participate in the weekly call. Commissioner Blasi questioned if the bi-laws state that only one commissioner can participate. Commissioner Joy clarified that only one commissioner can vote, all can participate.
Regarding jail legislation, Commissioner Joy stated that we are not receiving strong representation from MCCA. Bill Whitten, who represents Cumberland County, has been pulled back to represent only Cumberland County leaving Rosemary Kulow as the MCCA Legislative Representative; she is not a lobbyist. Most recently, the sheriff’s were pushing hard to bring the jails back to the counties, the bill went through and has put the financial burden back on the county. Penobscot County has presented an unbalanced budget, Hancock County was not alone in this. The emphasis or general rule in Augusta is that they care a lot more about education and welfare than jails; other agencies are sliding down the list. Commissioner Blasi stated that it sounded like the MCCA Board is not as strong as it could be. Peter Baldacci is the president of MCCA this year; Rosemary Kulow has been asked to be the full-time professional in the legislature. It is not her strength.
Regarding the heroin epidemic intervention; Commissioner Brown has met with the sheriff regarding a plan for Education, Enforcement and Rehabilitation/Treatment. He will soon have a presentation to address this. Approximately $50,000 in Community Benefit Funds may be set aside for this use. Commissioner Blasi has received a communication from Hills House regarding Treatment and Rehabilitation. The Drug Court also offers housing and treatment facilities. Commissioner Joy stated that there is a moment in our lives where we make a decision and asked "do we give our kids skills to face that question, do we shock them?" Heroin is a very addictive drug that once you’ve said yes, you are going down the wrong road and it's very hard to get off that road. Commissioner Brown stated that it is prevalent not only in his own town but everywhere. Commissioner Blasi questioned how to introduce this into the general public discussion. A shock program was discussed via movie or a “this is what it did to me” presentation. It is being looked into but parents, relatives and the community need to be brought into it. It is more than a school presentation, it’s a community forum issue. A program similar to Every 15 Minutes was suggested at a community and school level. A program is being worked on and will go on an agenda when Commissioner Brown and Sheriff Kane have it close to completion. Commissioner Blasi asked if a Maine video was available. Commissioner Brown stated this is Commissioner Joy’s project, but he will head the project.
MOTION: to adjourn. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)