Audio recordings of the meeting are available upon request

Commission Chairman Steven E. Joy called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:02 a.m. on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 in the conference room at the County courthouse in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance.

Commissioner Steven E. Joy presented a 5 year certificate and jacket to Jonathan Merchant. All three Commissioners thanked Merchant for his service and dedication to Hancock County. He then presented a pin and granite plaque to Deborah Whitcomb, Probate Clerk, who is retiring in December after 20 years of service to Hancock County. Whitcomb expressed that she enjoyed working for Hancock County, and would miss it. The Commissioners thanked her for her service.

Adjustments to the agenda:

Move (6) Probate to (2)(a)- everything following is shifted in kind

Add (5)(c) Deeds: Scanner

MOTION: to approve the above additions to the Agenda (Joy/Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)

Old Business:

MOTION: to approve the minutes from the September 26, 2016 Commissioners Special Meeting, the October 4, 2016 Commissioners Regular Meeting, the October 12, 2016 Commissioners Special Meeting, and the October 19, 2016 Commissioner Special Meeting (Brown, Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)


MOTION: to hire Juliette A.M. Wilbur of Ellsworth, Maine as a full time Probate Clerk at the rate of 12.13/hr with benefits effective December 3, 2016 (Brown, Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: Register Coughlin confirmed this was Pay Scale Step 5B, not including the 1.5% which would start January 1. 

Commission Business:

Discussion from Public Comments:

Chair Joy clarified that public comments were fine, but they would not be negotiating contracts in public. Joe Piccone introduced himself as the business agent for Teamsters Local Union Number 340, representing 3 bargaining units within the County. He said his purpose of coming was to comment on the lack of progress with the Commission. He gave a brief history of recent contract negotiations. He said it is the Union’s position that the process began moving in a forward direction; they continued with mediation expecting a response from the County, which didn’t come. He expressed frustration and concern with nobody getting back to the Union regarding their proposals. Chair Joy stressed that they would not discuss specifics. Commissioner Brown responded, referring to the change in Commissioner Negotiator in the past months.  Commissioner Joy said he withdrew because he would not be part of the Commission going forward. Commissioner Brown assured Piccone that he would get a response.

Discussion: Maine County Commissioners Association and Risk Pool Representative Nominations

Commissioner Brown expressed his interest in representing Hancock County.

Commissioner Joy nominated Joe Brown to be the representative from Hancock County to the Maine County Commissioners Association and the Risk Pool Representative. Commissioner Blasi seconded the nomination.  Vote 3-0

Commissioner Brown pointed out he can use a proxy.

Community Benefits discussion: Commissioner Joy said he believed that $400,000 had been committed to this year’s budget which leaves about $59,000 left over. Commissioner Joy referenced Project Hope, and similar projects; Commissioner Joy would like to see some of that $59,000 fund all or some of these projects. Commissioner Brown pointed out the work force part of any program would go through work force investment act, using federal money. Commissioner Brown said he was willing to commit some of that money for local use to get those recovering into a job, and referenced the  B(angor) A(rea) R(ecovery) N(etwork) Program and its representative, Joanna Russell, that she would help get that program going. Commissioner Brown stressed that it is very important that we do something. Commissioner Blasi said we ought to itemize what we could do. Commissioner Brown said he has found people have to go to Belfast to get counseling; he would like to see something here in Hancock County. Commissioner Joy asked for a consensus that some/all of that $59,000 be used for drug treatment programs in Hancock County. Discussion followed on how much money would be committed; Commissioner Brown suggested a total of $25,000.

MOTION: Use a maximum of $25,000 (Brown, ) motion did not receive a second, Chairman Joy said it was really a discussion item for today.

Commissioner Joy said he was thinking a max of $15,000 per program (3 programs), and didn’t want to see the amount beyond $45,000. Commissioner Blasi agreed, saying $15,000 per program is good, particularly when it is itemized. CA Adkins will follow up with the groups. 


MOTION: to hire Tori Turner of Bangor, Maine, as a part time corrections officer on call as needed at the rate of $12.00 per hour effective November 5, 2016 with no benefits and not to exceed 29 hours per week. (Brown, Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to approve to advertise for the sale of 2 Cruisers- 2004 Crown Vic, and 2011 Chevrolet Impala. (Brown, Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: Chief Deputy Pat Kane said these are the vehicles that are budgeted to show as revenue in 2017 budget. He also explained the procedure for selling vehicles; some people will come look at them, they also have companies that will call and inquire.


Discussion: Monthly Report

Director Wellman reported on the Ellsworth dispatch, and that they were pleased with the progress. Commissioner Blasi confirmed the status of the MOU, that the city council did approve it. Wellman said they did. She gave an update on the continued advertising for dispatch; she is not getting a lot of candidates. She plans to revamp it and send it out again. She also reported on the Husson job fair she attended. She indicated she would continue to reach out to college job fairs. Commissioner Brown suggested State job fair participation. Commissioner Joy asked about a history of the way the hours are set up. Director Wellman explained how it began and evolved. Commissioner Blasi asked Director Wellman to elaborate on the radio project. Wellman explained the recent glitch with a letter of concurrency to proceed with licensing. She has had no opposition from anyone; she just needs the last letter.

MOTION:  To accept the resignation of James Karst of Ellsworth effective October 14, 2016 (Brown, Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: To promote Mackenzie Wilson of Orono, Maine to full-time dispatch position at the rate of 14.84/hr with benefits effective October 29, 2016 (Brown, Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion: Wilson is being promoted from part time dispatch, at step 9A.


Register of Deeds Julie Curtis requested permission to go to RFP for computer database. The current contract is up in July. This is just for the vendor for the software system. Curtis said she expects responses by the middle of January, and to have a decision in February; after that it’s a conversion issue, she’d like to have it in place by July, but may be December. She would rather have the process done correctly. Curtis said she puts $39,000-$42,000 every year in the budget for software- she wants to make sure the quote comes in under that; it will be paid monthly.

MOTION: to allow for an RFP for a computer database. (Brown, Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion on surcharge usage: Curtis reported she was on target for her revenue projections to date. She is requesting to hire part time temporary person to help complete indexing of the documents before conversion. This will be paid for out of the surcharge; there will be nothing on the County.

MOTION: to hire part time temporary person to help complete indexing of the documents before conversion. (Brown, Blasi 3-0 Motion passed)

It was made clear that this position will be funded by the surcharge and will involve no more than 2 days a week.

Discussion on the scanner- The Commissioners were presented with two bids for the same copier.

Curtis suggested leasing as that would allow her to stay in front of technology. Commissioner Joy suggested putting some money down to reduce the payment. Curtis said funds could come from the recording software line (30-500) Curtis said she would work with CA Adkins to decide which accounts to use for the down payment.

There was some discussion about what funds are available in the current budget. The lessor is U.S. Bank Equipment Finance; the vendor is Transco Business Technologies.

MOTION: authorize the lease for a copier using a down payment from a capital account(s) (Brown, Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

At this point Chairman Joy called for a 5 minute break.

Treasurer’s Office:

MOTION: to approve the October expenditures in the health insurance account in the amount of $117,582.87. (Joy, Brown, 3-0, motion passed).

MOTION: to approve the expenditure of $163.00 from Capital Reserve

Account# G1-3015-20 Cascade Reserve for Hydro 2 cascade cylinders (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion on MSB updated balance sheet: none.

Discussion: Treasurer Eldridge said we do have the additional $200,000 insurance on the accounts, on top of the $250,000 FDIC.  The monthly reports will look the same way, and we still have the sweeps.

Treasurer Eldridge gave an update on outstanding taxes.

Discussion on the DA extradition account- Treasurer Eldridge reported the ID 016000001 is under the State of Maine- not under the County. CA Adkins reported the DA received permission to use extradition funds to pay for the audit.

MOTION: to approve the October General Fund and Airport Payroll Warrants #16-39, #16-40, #16-41 and #16-42 in the aggregate amount of $217,444.35 (Blasi, Brown, 3-0, motion passed).

MOTION: to approve the October General Fund and Airport Expense Warrants #16-39, #16-40, #16-41, #16-42 and #16-43 in the aggregate amount of $675,746.62(Blasi, Brown, 3-0, motion passed).

MOTION: to approve the October Jail and UT Payroll Warrants #16-39, #16-40, #16-41 and #16-42 in the aggregate of $95,525.78. (Blasi, Brown, 3-0, motion passed).

MOTION: to approve the October Jail and UT Expense Warrants #16-20, #17-7, #16-21 and #17-8 in the aggregate amount of $80,761.86. (Blasi, Brown, 3-0, motion passed).


Discussion on Monthly Report: Walls gave his report, Commissioner Brown asked him about winter preparedness and valve replacement. Walls reported he replaced 5 or so in the last couple of years. He checks them periodically, before they fail. Commissioner Blasi asked about some of the improvements regarding the emergency preparedness plan, and what happens next. The EMA Director will address Walls’ staff regarding emergency preparedness. The maintenance staff is unique in that they are here after hours, but he would encourage every department to do that. Walls said he didn’t notice any appreciable difference. Walls reported that the corrective action taken on the propane tanks was that he replaced the appropriate valves, and liquid lines are shut off until he turns the vaporizer on. Commissioner Blasi asked when Walls would have the revisions done for the EPP. Walls reported he has made the revisions and modernized the EPP to more closely reflect the county now. He is planning to present those revisions to the safety committee at the next meeting. They will use that to compose the quick guide, which will be up for approval in the next Commissioners meeting.

Walls reported that there had been a fire drill, and it went well. He said we are required to have them twice a year by Bureau of Labor Standards. The entire evacuation was around 6 minutes- the goal was 10 minutes. Walls said the Jail follows their own procedure- they do evacuation drills, but they follow a different set of guidelines.

Discussion on Snow Removal Recommendation:

Commissioner Joy unsealed the 2 snow plow bids. There was some confusion, as they were both from RF Jordan, and the dates on one of the bids showed 2015-2016 snow season. Commissioner Joy asked Walls to clarify with RF Jordan, then report again to the Commission.

Discussion on Short unpaid leave of absence for employee:

Facilities Director Walls informed the Commission of an employee whose mother had passed away and has had to return to the Philippines to make arrangements. He would like the Commissioners to approve a short leave of absence.

MOTION: Approve a short unpaid leave of absence for Dianne Arriesgado to attend family matters in the wake of her mother’s death. (Joy, Brown 3-0, motion passed)

Unorganized Territory:

Discussion on Monthly Report:

UT Supervisor Millard Billings reported on Hancock Wind, saying all 17 towers have been constructed. Billings said he believed the owner of Hancock Wind is Terra Nova, and TerraForm is the owner of Bull Hill Wind. Commissioner Joy would like to see some informational paperwork brought, showing how the budget is organized, revenue projections and priorities. Commissioner Brown made the point that both of the TIF blueprints are different, the same thing can’t necessarily be done for both. Supervisor Billings said they have to be kept separate and the funds must be tracked separately. There was some discussion on the roads that are included in the Bull Hill wind TIF- Narraguagus Road, Sugar Hill Road, Bull Hill Road, the access roads Route 182 to the Airline, those access roads to Bull Hill were included in that district. Commissioner Blasi indicated that the Commission is particularly interested in expending on radio capability. Commissioner Joy asked Supervisor Billings to bring back the appropriate documents and refresh everyone’s memory. Supervisor Billings said Nicatous road was included in the Bull Hill TIF district; he asked if the plan was to pave that road. There was some discussion on what the two different TIFs allowed for spending.


Discussion on Monthly Report:

Airport Manager Madeira gave an update on the work being done. He said he thought the tenants adapted well- he didn’t hear anything from them. He said the primary runway was only shut down at night. The remaining work should wrap up in a couple of weeks. Commissioner Blasi asked if we could expect to hear from the Army Corp. Manager Madeira said they’re still evaluating. Commissioner Blasi said he thought that the aquaculture project was permitted with the FAA’s approval, while being contrary to what the biologist said. Commissioner Blasi wanted to know why the Corp didn’t consider placement of the farm away from the restricted zone. He said the answer given to him at the hearing was that no one had asked that question until now.  Madiera said the FAA inspection is scheduled for the end of November- he expects that to go well.

Discussion on Finalizing 2017 Airport Budget:

 Revenues $702,902 Expenses $702,902

Madeira handed out a chart showing budgets from the last several years.

Madeira said this budget continued with the number of employees he has now, but he said this is not sustainable forever. That works now because one employee lives close to the airport, but that may not continue to be the case, and will have to go to a shift schedule. In continuing that for 2017, he is able to balance the budget. Commissioner Blasi asked about coverage for the employee who lives the closest to the airport; Manager Madeira said he (Madeira) lived the second closest.

Commissioner Joy suggested having an “escalator” in sign revenue. Madeira shared an analysis of what the budget would look like if we were not an FAA certified airport. He said expenses would decline by 20%, however revenues would drop by at least 26% - we would end up with a significant loss. He determined we are better off to stay certified.

MOTION: To approve the 2017 Airport budget- Revenues of $702,902 and Expenses of $702,902 (Brown, Joy 2-1, motion passed, Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Blasi stated that he opposes the administration fee.

SNOW PLOW CONTRACTS Walls reported that RF Jordan submitted the second bid after Walls informed them the original bid was not on the County supplied bid form. He recommended the bid that reflected $45/hour plowing, $50/hour for sanding, and he did verify that the removal fees for the loader are $75 and dump truck for $60, which are used when there is a lot of snow. He said we don’t ask for that, but he verifies it in case it is needed.

MOTION: to accept the bid from RF Jordan $45/hour plowing $50/hr for sanding. Removal fees $75 and dump truck $60, for use with heavy snow (Brown, Blasi, 3-0 motion passed)

MOTION: to give approval for the Commission Chairman to sign the Snowplow contract (Blasi, Joy, 3-0 motion passed)

MOTION: to enter an Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(D), to discuss Labor Negotiations (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back to regular session with nothing to report.

1:15 Tax Abatement Appeal Deliberations: Rhyne vs. Town of Lamoine

After deliberation, the following motion was made:

MOTION: To grant Mr. Rhyne an abatement (Joy, Blasi 0-3 all opposed, motion fails)

Either party may appeal the decision of the county commissioners (within 60 days) to the Superior Court, in accordance with the Maine Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 80B.

County Administrator:

MOTION: to have Chairman sign the MOU between Hancock County and District Court

(Blasi, Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to authorize the Chairman to sign the agreement to move the ICMA funding in the retirement health account into Vantage Trust. (Brown, Joy 3-0, motion passed)

CA Adkins explained that the Commission is involved because they are the stewards of County funds.

Discussion on Meritain Eye Care Documents:

CA Adkins explained ACA adoption language on the vision care in the summary of benefits coverage of glasses/contacts.

MOTION: to sign the amendment #2 to Hancock County health plan provided by Acadia Benefits (Joy, Brown 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: approve the summary of material modification and amendment #1 to the County of Hancock Health plan Group #14910 (Joy, Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion on Swan’s Island contract- CA Adkins reported that the $100/week stipend was not in the contract. Commissioner Brown said he did not think the $100 stipend was mentioned when the contract was approved and he would like to see the minutes from that meeting.  Commissioner Joy suggested that we find out what the intent was, then go from there.

Ellsworth Dispatch project- CA Adkins reported that the Ellsworth City Council is aware of what’s going on- that there shouldn’t be concern about people not knowing. He reported that Director Wellman and her staff are doing well, and the City Manager and Police Chief agree.

Budget discussion: CA Adkins reported that the budget binders now show the final numbers from BAC, including the $400,000 transfer they voted on. Commissioner Brown said the BAC can’t transfer money, they can leave an unbalanced budget and the Commission would accept that as a suggestion. There was some discussion about the wage increase resolution the BAC wanted to send to the Commission. CA Adkins said the BAC increased the probate budget to allow the Commission to allow salary increases. Commissioner Joy said the Commission would need to know the BAC votes. He also said a zero percent increase in healthcare is a mistake.

Commissioner Brown indicated he would like to have a budget workshop, as he still sees the need to trim. Commissioner Joy said some of the things to look at will be the 3rd party donations and individual raises. Commissioner Brown said he appreciates the work the BAC does; but that they have to make decisions within minutes, and the Commission has to make these decisions all year long. There was some discussion about what funds are available from uncommitted Community Benefit Funds, Hancock Wind, Bull Hill, and capital accounts.

RCC discussion: There was some discussion on traveling to the RCCs in Knox and Waldo Counties, and bringing in an engineer. Commissioner Blasi said he is still pursuing initiating permitting with the FAA for a tower at the airport and notifying the municipalities at the same time that we may be thinking of a referendum. Commissioner Blasi expressed that the airport should be an option, as we already own the land. Commissioner Joy asked Commissioner Blasi if he was also referring to a building; Commissioner Blasi indicated yes. CA Adkins will contact Malm and Associates to discuss specifications.

MOTION to adjourn 2:42 (Brown, Joy 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Executive Asst. to the County Administrator

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