Commissioner Agendas & Minutes
COMMISSIONERS REGULAR MEETING
Commissions Chairman Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:02 a.m. on Tuesday, September 13, 2016 in the conference room of the Hancock County courthouse in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.
Commissioner Steven E. Joy presented a 10 year certificate and pins to Corporal (now a Sargent) Michael Pileski and Assistant Jail Administrator Frank Shepard. The Sheriff also presented them with plaques of appreciation. All three Commissioners thanked the Jail employees for their service and dedication to Hancock County.
Adjustments to the agenda: under Airport (10B) to overspend E40-10-405; under Sheriff (7L), promote Jillian Jones from 9G1 to 10G1 $18.68 per hour as a permanent change; under Treasurer, delete (7f) as the discussion will be at 1pm by Nicky Pellenz.
MOTION: to approve the above additions to the Agenda (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve the minutes from the August 2, 2016 Commissioners Regular Meeting and the August 12, 2016 Commissioners Special Meeting (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
Discussion from Public Comments: NONE
Discussion on the Commissioner Priorities for the County Administrator: Commissioner Joy asked who had requested this agenda item and CA Adkins stated that Commissioner Blasi had. Commissioner Blasi asked if the other Commissioners had any priorities; with no response from them, he began with his list of priorities: he would like to have a full time Finance Clerk in the Treasurer’s Office and that the GL be reported to the Commissioner’s at least quarterly with all Funds in balance. CA Adkins stated that both of these issues are being dealt with and as we are still in transition with the new Executive Assistant Rebekah, Pam will remain where she is. He also stated that the beginning balances are carried forward from year end into the new fiscal year in TRIO. Commissioner Blasi also stated that his other priorities for the CA include: a 5year plan including the use of Airport for solar array and the expanded county service with all releases planned to be done. CA Adkins stated to the public that he inherited a financial mess and he has been doing his best to deal with all the issues that were in place when he arrived back in May. The daily emails from Commissioner Blasi are on the borderline of harassment and he is very hesitant to listen to only one Commissioner who continues to “dog him” daily. Commissioner Blasi insists on zero accounting entries required in the Audit. Commissioner Blasi stated that he also wants the CA to supervise the specific manager (who is the Treasurer). Commissioner Joy asked to interrupt his (Commissioner Blasi) speech as he was not aware of any mandated authorities where the CA is the Chief Financial Officer, as that is the responsibility of the Treasurer. Commissioner Blasi stated that the CA has confused the mandated County Administrator responsibilities of county business and property with “borderline harassment” and this is totally unacceptable. He voted to overdraft the budget line for this position from $71,000 to $75,000 while he was satisfied with the County Clerk format. And, this is the response that he gets today from the CA. He also commented that he would like his emails printed and distributed to the public to show that he often compliments the CA but he also voices his concerns. Commissioner Joy stated that no one Commissioner has the authority to tell County employees what to do or how to do their jobs. CA Adkins stated that when he is approached by one Commissioner to do something that he feels not in the best interest of the County, he will take the suggestion into consideration and make a decision on how to respond. Commissioner Blasi said he will not stop the monitoring what is happening in the Administrator’s office as he is responsible for 1/3 of Hancock County. We now have a County Administrator, not a County Clerk and he (Commissioner Blasi) qualified for the ballot while we had the clerk. Commissioner Brown stated that the Treasurer should be responsible for all the financial reports, not the CA and we should not be using the Commissioner Meeting time for Commissioner Blasi to state his campaign issues. Commissioner Joy stated the job description of the CA does not include all the financial reporting that is the Treasurer’s responsibility- he is not the Chief Financial Officer and also the state of the personnel mess he inherited is not a part of his job. Those issues will be ironed out due to the hiring of our new Executive Assistant and the upcoming fulltime Treasurer Office position.
Treasurer Eldridge stated to the public that in the past four months, CA Adkins has taught us employees in the Treasurer’s Office so much more than we ever had learned from the CFO and Deputy Treasurer. Sheriff Scott Kane was also very appreciative of all the hard work and professionalism that CA Adkins has shown to the Sheriff Office and the Jail.
Registry of Probate:
MOTION: to accept the resignation of Deborah Whitcomb effective December 2, 2016 (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to approve to advertise for a full time clerk’s position (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: Commissioner Blasi asked what the staffing is at this time. Register Coughlin stated that there is now a Deputy Register and the Fulltime Clerk. Commissioner Brown asked her to advertise in-house first and then go to the outside with the Ellsworth American and also on the MMA website.
MOTION: to approve to replace laptop and desktop computers at a cost of $4,430.04. Funds to come from Reserve Account E-03-70-200. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: this account was earmarked for this expense and the money is still in the account at this time.
A brief discussion on how the funds from the boat sale are to be used: Sheriff Kane sold the boat and wants to use the money to purchase a side by side vehicle that will be better utilized that a boat. The money will go into Account#1-3014-00 (equipment) to be used at a later date.
MOTION: to set aside the boat sale money into the G1-3014-00(Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Sheriff Kane asked permission to use the Grand Jury Court room in October for a hunter safety course. The course is for three nights over three weeks in October starting at 5PM.
MOTION: to allow the use of the Probate Court room for Hunter Safety course (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed).
Sheriff Kane and Jail Administrator Tim Richardson would like to start a discussion on increasing the part time rate for Corrections Officers to $13.50. It is so hard to get people to apply for part time help at $12 per hour and they both hoped this would entice more applications. Commissioner Joy stated that CA Adkins should look at how this increase would affect that line items for all Departments. This would cause a one month delay but it could prove beneficial to know for all Departments. Commissioner Blasi asked would we get more applications if the part time rate increase occurred. Sheriff Kane said yes, because some people are wanting to work another part time job in addition to their full time job.
Jail Administrator Richardson asked about hiring a transportation/recreation/court officer as this position has been vacant since before he came to the Jail. Commissioner Joy asked if this was in the 2017 Budget and Commissioner Brown asked if some of the funds would come from “Inmate Funds” – the answer was no to both questions. JA Richardson stated that it should be a part of the regular Jail budget as it is mandated by the State of Maine in the BOC Budget. At this time, we are using regular staff to fill this position and it often involves employees working over time. Commissioner Joy stated that if this position needs to be a Budget Line item, then CA Adkins will assist the Sheriff and JA to get this started.
MOTION: to approve the expenditure of an amount not to exceed $10,000.00 from Account#10-70- 100 (Equipment Reserve) for the purchase of bullet proof vests that need to be replaced. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: the Federal grant has been applied for and the order will placed soon. Half of the expense of the vests will be reimbursed with the grant.
MOTION: to hire Steven Hunt of Orland, Maine as a full time MDEA Supervisor effective November 5, 2016 with the rate of pay to be determined by the State of Maine (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: Commissioner Blasi asked what this position means to the Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Kane stated it is fully funded by the State of Maine so there is no cost the County of Hancock. The new employee is currently retiring from the Bangor Police Department and will certainly be an asset to Hancock County.
MOTION: to promote Abiel Martinez, Of Etna, Maine to Full Time Corrections Officer effective September 17, 2016 at level 9A $14.84 per hour with full benefits ( Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: there will be one vacant position in the Jail after this is approval.
MOTION: to hire Patty Smith of Franklin, Maine, as a part time corrections officer on call as needed at the rate of $12.00 per hour effective September 17, 2016 with no benefits and not to exceed 29 hours per week. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: approval to work corrections officer Crystal Thurlow out of classification effective September 17, 2016 at a pay rate increase of 3% not to exceed 20 consecutive work days ( Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: approval to promote Corrections Officer Jillian Jones effective September 17, 2016 at a pay rate 9G1 to 10G1 at $18.68 (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to remove from the County payroll records Dale Wells effective September 10, 2016 (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: To enter into Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a), to discuss a personnel matter. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
Commissioner Joy returned to regular session with nothing to report.
In a discussion on the update of the Mt. Waldo#2 tower site, Director Wellman stated the RFP vendors from 2015 have been contacted again and the interest is still there. Brown’s Communications updated the cost as it has decreased down by over $4,000. The Motorola equipment is desired and Director Wellman is asking to accept Brown’s RFP so that license can be applied for along with the lease on the tower site. The lowest bidder from 2015 is no longer the lowest bidder and they also do not sell Motorola equipment. Commissioner Joy asked if the equipment that is not Motorola would work with our existing equipment and Director Wellman stated it not desired to mix various equipment. Commissioner Brown wanted to make sure that both vendors had been contacted and Director Wellman stated yes they had but Brown’s had lowered their total price. CA Adkins asked to have the updated bid be made public as the current lowest bidder.
MOTION: to approve and to accept the bid from Brown’s Communications as the low bidder for the Motorola equipment in order to start the application process and lease agreement for Mt. Waldo#2 (Joy/Blasi 2-1, motion passed): Discussion: Brown’s Communications was previously emailed and then called to verify the new bid. Director Wellman will get it from them.
In an update on the Ellsworth Police Department and Ellsworth Fire Department Dispatch Pilot Project MOU, the RCC will provide overnight dispatch for the City of Ellsworth Police and Fire Departments along with the Trenton Volunteer fire department. The RCC equipment has been updated and the telephone lines have been installed. It has been working well for the past 2 weeks with no issues.
MOTION: to approve the MOU with the City of Ellsworth for the overnight dispatch (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed.) Discussion: Any non-emergency issues are directed to the officer or specific office for the next morning. This will be an initial MOU for 6 months with options of renewals after that time.
MOTION: to approve the hire of Mackenzie Wilson of Orono as a part-time dispatcher at a rate of $12.50/hr with no benefits, not to exceed 29 hours a week effective September 17, 2016. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to approve the hire of James Karst of Ellsworth as a full-time dispatcher with benefits at the step of 9A, with a rate of $14.84/hr, effective September 17, 2016. (Brown/ Blasi 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: Commissioner Brown asked if any of these two need training and Director Wellman said yes, they both will be going for more training starting on Monday 9/19/16.
MOTION: To remove from payroll records Tonya Carter as a part-time dispatcher effective September 13, 2016. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: Approval to have Chief Deputy Kane be the on call Supervisor for $150 during the vacation coverage of RW from September 14-19, 2016. (Blasi/Brown3-0, motion passed).
In a discussion on the RCC expansion, CA Adkin stated there have been a couple of inquiries from landowner and/or building owners from the ad the Commissioners had the CA put in the Ellsworth American, but nothing that was very specific.
MOTION: to approve the August General Fund and Airport payroll Warrants #16-30, #16-31, #16-32, and #16-33 in the aggregate amount of $200,153.69 ( Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to approve the August General Fund and Airport expense Warrants #16-31, #16-32, #16-33, and #16-34 in the aggregate amount of $ 606,095.63. (Brown/Joy 2-1, motion passed). Discussion: Commissioner Blasi would not approve the $16,000 Admin fee for the Airport as he did not approve it in the Budget process last year. He does not feel this cost is necessary. Commissioner Joy asked him why? And Commissioner Blasi said that the Airport will be coming into the taxation process if we continue to charge them but at this time they are a separate entity. Commissioner Brown stated that just the accounting aspect of the Airport would cost more than what they currently pay to the County.
MOTION: to approve the August Jail and UT payroll Warrants #16-30, #16-31, #16-32, and #16-33 in the aggregate of $92,283.25. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed).
Commissioner Brown has left the room. He came back a few minutes later.
MOTION: to approve the August Jail and UT expense Warrants #16-16, #17-3, #16-17 and 17-4 in the aggregate amount of $108,234.97. (Blasi/Joy 2-0, motion passed).
Discussion on the financial reports and updates on AR: Commissioner Blasi asked about certain accounts that are currently overdrawn or are close to it. He stated that we should only be at 75% at this time of year. Commissioner Joy stated that the minuscule overdraft amounts are not to be micro-managed. CA Adkins stated that all “prepaid accounts” will be set up differently next year so the budget amounts will not be skewed when they are actually paid. Workers Comp payments is one example as they payments are made quarterly and the 1st payment is 40% of the yearly total, then 30% and then 15% and 15%. Treasurer Eldridge stated the “05 Revenues” are over due to a Workers Comp dividend payment and $2000 from Dept. of Interior.
MOTION: to approve the August expenditures in the health insurance account in the amount of $ 164,952.55. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to approve capital expenditure requests for Hancock County Volunteer Fire for $113.20 from G1-3015-20 (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: the first and second installment payments on the new Jail roof for $34,982 each from G1-3011-00. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed.)
In a brief discussion of the updated monthly listing of MSB account balances, Commissioner Joy stated that if the Airport is sweeping over $1million then there is no financial issues at the Airport. Commissioner Blasi said at this time, it is okay.
Commissioner Blasi asked if there was to be a 2nd check signer at this time. Treasurer Eldridge stated that it has been decided that the Commissioners must approve all payments and the stamp can be used. Commissioner Brown asked if there should still be a written signature for that 2nd person. As all Bank transfers are OK’d by the Commissioners, initiated by the Finance Assistant and approved by the Treasurer, Commissioner Joy agreed that the 2nd check signer’s signature should be in real ink and that person should be the Executive Assistant Rebekah Knowlton.
MOTION: to have the 2nd check signer on all Machias Savings Bank accounts be the Executive Assistant Rebekah Knowlton with the prior approval of the Commissioner Chair and/or Treasurer. Cynthia DePrenger’s name will be removed. (Blasi/Brown 3-0 motion passed).
Discussion on the update of the County 2015 Audit and the Jail/UT for 2015-16 Audit: Treasurer Eldridge stated that there is a “Draft” for 2015 General Fund but not for the Jail 2015-16. The management response should be signed by the Commissioners but Commissioner Brown wants to read it first. It has been signed by CA Adkins and the Treasurer. Commissioner Joy wants to make sure that Commissioner Blasi has added all of his requests to the management letter before it is signed and submitted back to the Auditor. Commissioner Joy stated that he feels that we are responding well to what the Auditor has requested. Commissioner Brown commented that Commissioner Blasi could express his feeling to the Auditor when they present the “Final” audit report. Both Commissioner Joy and Commissioner Brown are okay with the signatures of CA Adkins and Treasurer Eldridge but Commissioner Blasi wants all three Commissioners to sign the Management Response. Commissioner Joy asked if there were any undesignated funds and CA Adkins responded that are $75,000 of Undesignated Funds per the Audit. Most, if not all, was generated through the health insurance numbers.
MOTION: to have the Commission sign the Management Response (Blasi/ , failed for lack of a second).
In a discussion of the TimeTrak maintenance contract for 2016-2017, Treasurer Eldridge stated there are many problems with the timeclock in the breakroom. We have not paid the yearly invoice yet and we are wondering if we should think about moving onto a new vendor. The clock issue has been resolved and at a later date, we might think about changing to another vendor.
MOTION: renew the Time Trak contract for the upcoming year. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed).
A brief discussion on the Maine PERS explanation of IUUAL: Hancock County joined Maine PERS in 1994 and we have now met our obligation of over 22yrs. There will be no further fees assessed to Hancock County.
At 11:45am, a conference phone call was placed to Rudman/Winchell regarding the SunEdison Bankruptcy proceedings. Before the call, Commissioner Blasi asked if all wind turbines need to be in operation in order to qualify for Community Benefit funds and UT Supervisor Billings responded that “the dates certain set forth of notice to Bangor Hydro, Emera Maine or any other electrical provider as the transmission owner that the company shall provide the County of such written notice”. He also stated that all the turbines must be functioning for the funds to be dispersed.
Erik Stumpfel from Rudman/Winchell stated that there is no action required from the Commission at this time as the new owners (Terra Nova) are not involved with this case. We are due to get our payments at the time the turbines are on line and we should receive what is due to Hancock County. The Sun Edison bankruptcy has very little effect on what Terra Nova projects are now owned- there is no affiliation with the bankruptcy. Commissioner Blasi asked what about the Emera Maine operational notices-do we have a model from Bull Hill and what does that have to do with the turbines coming on line? Eric responded that it will be presented when the turbines are all online and the payment schedule is started.
In a brief discussion on Saturday mail delivery- there is no staff here at the Courthouse on Saturday to accept the mail, so there is no need for mail delivery. The Post Office wants to have less mail delivered to the Courthouse on Monday. As far as we are concerned, there is no need for this change.
An additional discussion on the District Court Lease- there will be a new MOU for an increase in rent paid from the State of Maine and it will be reviewed by Justice Softley before it is sent back to us. The building has been open until 4:30PM since early September, with no issues at this time. The elevator can only be used with a Marshall but there is no other handicapped accessibility at this time. CA Adkins & Director Walls will review the MOU for exceptions before it is signed by the County.
In discussion on the snow removal bids, Director Walls would like to keep RF Jordan with the same price for the upcoming year and he would like extend the contract if that is okay with the Commissioners.
MOTION: to extend the snow removal contract with RF Jordan at the same price (Joy/ failed for lack of 2nd) Discussion: Director Walls will post a new RFP for snow removal bids for the upcoming year.
MOTION: to accept the resignation of Justin St Pierre effective September 27, 2016 and to advertise to seek a full time replacement (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
Lunch 12:11 to 12:35pm
John Fitzgerald from Healthy Acadia stated that in response to the presentation earlier this summer from another agency regarding a broad coalition involving substance abuse help and counseling centers, he would like to have the Commissioners meet and listen to the staff and directors from his group of partners. Elsie Fleming spoke about Healthy Acadia and how the nonprofit is trying to support prevention and education around the substance uses and misuses in Hancock. Denise Black, also from Health Acadia spoke of the specific programs that along with Art Blank (MDI Hosp) and Charlie Therrien (Ellsworth Hosp) they are hoping to continue with use the Hancock County Community Benefit funds. A complete packet is available in the records of this meeting.
Nicky Pellenz from Machias Savings Bank spoke on the FDIC insurance coverage on our deposit accounts- the County of Hancock does not have proper insurance to cover all of the funds in all of our deposit accounts if the bank was to dissolve. There is private deposit insurance (excess deposit bond) that could be purchased on our behalf and the yearly bond is approved thru the Auditor. There is no financial incentive to MSB, but in fact, that yearly fee is paid by MSB. The sweep accounts at this time will be dropped and there will only be one deposit account for each Fund instead of the two deposit accounts. Commissioner Joy asked if we would still receive interest paid on our deposit accounts and the answer is yes, but those sweep accounts will go away. Commissioner Blasi asked about if there is any tax advantages to this change and she responded no, not at this time. The Commissioners will take this change into consideration and get back to MSB.
Commissioner Brown has left the room. He came back a few minutes later.
1:20pm Tax Abatement Hearing Gregory Rhyne vs. Town of Lamoine
Participating parties included: Gregory Rhyne, land owner and Michael Jordan and Terry Towne, Town of Lamoine Assessors.
Commissioner Joy swore in the parties. A copy of the audio is available, upon request, in the Commissioner’s Office.
To be continued at the October 4, 2016 CRM
MOTION: To review and approve the agreement for Purchase and Storage of Salt/Sand and Snow Removal with Penobscot County for Nicatous Road. (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: Commissioner Blasi asked which part of the contract obligates Hancock County and UT Supervisor Billings said the “bullet #5” on the bottom of page 1 to the top of page 2 states what we are due to pay for salt and sand and also snow removal.
Discussion on the Monthly Report: MeDOT has cancelled the proposed seaplane ramp project. The FAA has issued a report of how winter safety operations are monitored and it will require some additional man hours for monitoring the surface conditions- it could be another FullTime position. TSA has approved a 3yr grant for funding our security force but we will receive approximately 64% (down from 75%) of what we spend for the security detail. We are currently approved for only 7hrs per day but security is on staff for 9hrs per day, on average. An additional 644 hours have been approved to account for the increased high season flights and for this year, Manager Madeira does expect to be slightly under budget in security expense. . Commissioner Joy asked if the small airport managers in Maine meet to discuss this type of issue as it could be brought to the attention of our State Senators. The trash utilities have been overcharged by the company but they have given us a credit for the next few months. The FAA has finally approved the wildlife management plan which puts additional stress on staff to monitor the wildlife. The update on AIP41 project (Airport sign replacement): the project was scheduled to start September 12, 2016 but has not started yet and work is expected to continue into late October.
MOTION: approval to overspend Account E40-10-405 by $200 to pay for the service bill for AARF service packs. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed). Discussion: this is a yearly upgrade on the service packs for the fire fighters.
An update on the Dale Thistle vs. Judge Patterson Probate case- the case is finally closed and we will not receive any further invoices from the lawyer’s office after this month.
Discussion on the Jail vs. State of Maine court case- we have until the 15th or 16th of September to file our response to the latest hearing and then the State of Maine has a couple of weeks to respond after that.
September 30th, and October 1st and 2nd is the weekend for the Maine County Commissioners Meeting in Bangor, ME. In the past, spouses have been invited to attend but it is at the employee’s expense.
For discussion on the schedule of Departmental budget meetings: Commissioner Joy wants to take the budget books right now and have CA Adkins go through each Dept. to see what is going on at this point of time.
Break 2:40, Back at 2:45pm
CA Adkins stated that on page 1, the Tax Levy total expenses = $7,887,750 and with Revenues and a transfer of the Community Benefit of $400,000, we will need to raise $5,598,560 which is 3.82% more than in 2016. A discussion followed about the surplus from the 2015 and 2016 Community Benefit funds- Commissioner Blasi called them “frozen” and Commissioner Brown was adamant there are no “frozen accounts” as we use those funds to offset budget shortfalls. Commissioner Blasi also asked about the “locked box account”. CA Adkins said it is already set aside as the “Health Account” funds and it is in a separate bank account. There is $85, 000 set aside in that account that is not used for any other bill paying purposes. Commissioner Joy asked about the “hole” for the Jail and how has that funding affected the upcoming Budget? Commissioner Brown said he was not concerned about the Jail at this time but Commissioner Joy was not happy about always having to “transfer” the Community Benefit funds from year to year. CA Adkins is concerned that there is no way to cut the budget by $400,000 so we should consider leaving this amount as a transfer for now but let’s try to take this away at some point as we cannot depend on this amount every year. Commissioner Brown stated he would like to review the 2017 budget on his own time and get back to this group next week. He is also concerned that if we don’t get another Town to join in on the RCC expansion with Ellsworth, the taxpayers are not going to want to get involved with another million dollar expansion.
On-going budget meetings to be scheduled after September 21, 2016 when the Commissioner are to send any revisions to CA Adkins. The first budget meeting will be September 26, 2016 at 8am with another meeting on September 27, 2016 at 8am, if needed. The final budget will be printed and presented to the BAC on September 29, 2016 at the 6PM Public Hearing. A continuation of the Lamoine Tax Abatement will be during the CRM meeting October 4th at 1pm. A second Tax Abatement will be heard on October 12, 2016 at 3pm.
MOTION: to adjourn at 3:35pm (Brown/Joy 3-0, motion passed).
Pamela J. Linscott
Finance Assist/Admin Clerk