Audio recordings of the meeting are available upon request

Commission Chairman, Steven E. Joy called the special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 9:00 am on Friday, November 18, 2016 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Brown and Blasi in attendance. 

Commission Business:

Adjustments to the agenda:                                                        

Acadia Benefits presentation with Scott McKee:

Scott McKee prepared a comparison of options for the employee benefits that Acadia Benefits assists the County in managing, including health, life, and short term disability.

Health insurance- McKee compared the total claims costs over the last several years. He explained the large spike in 2014- those claims were incurred and paid in 2014 but reimbursed in 2015. The County does purchase stop loss coverage, one for each individual; also an aggregate (covers the entire population). McKee reported that the cost is rising per employee. He referred to this as medical inflation, or the rising cost of health care. Medical cost inflation is 6-8%, while Pharmacy inflation is 12-17% annually. History of high cost claimants- McKee said there is a lot of volatility as this is a self insured plan, and it is difficult to predict high cost claimants with the population that we have. McKee said reinsurance is only coverage for an unknown risk, and we would not have coverage for known risks, such as a transplant. Acadia Benefits asked for quotes from fully insured carriers that do business in Maine- the only competitive option is from Anthem that increases the cost of the deductible, which he said we really can’t do without changing the current structure.  Commissioner Blasi asked if Hancock County is putting out the maximum effort to prevent high claims- are we offering any program that Acadia Benefits would endorse that would help in some way. McKee spoke about educational wellness programs, and an employee education event. He explained the 1st generation plan- which includes a wellness incentive, and an online health assessment annually. People don’t have to change, they simply have to participate. He said they routinely set these programs up, where employees are given an annual incentive of $300-$500. At that level they typically get 70% participation. This includes going to see you doctor once a year, and having a relationship with your PCP. It’s a long term project with long term results. 2nd generation focuses on long term measurable results that have occurred. Commissioner Blasi said he would like to have the information to implement something like that here at Hancock County. McKee said that would be happy to do that in January, and that it would probably be a 6 month project including CA Adkins and Rebekah, to come up with a program that the County’s culture is applied to. CA Adkins pointed out that we have had programs in the past, and we currently have an employee exercise program; there are efforts that have been going on. Commissioner Blasi said they should be more systematic. McKee said there is no benefit in 2017 for moving off self funding. He asked if there was any interest in moving to fully insured for 2017. Commissioner Joy would like to continue to look at fully insured; he said a risk that he didn’t realize is the potential cost of the reinsurance. There was some discussion of laser deductibles, in reference to high cost claims.

Life insurance options- McKee said the question was how much in savings is worth changing a vendor. There is good reason to have a long term relationship with carrier.  Changing carriers requires administration changes including sending out new booklets, making some billing changes, etc. A 4% decrease is really not a lot of money. Is it worth having the employees have to change? The best option would be to keep them together with the same carrier. Today we have a firm offer- Scott McKee said he would recommend signing that by the end of the month. McKee said he always recommends a plan our size be fully insured, that’s the safest long term. This year he would have a hard time paying that much more.

At this point Commissioner Joy called for a break.

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back to order.

MOTION: To adjust the agenda: Move 1(e) to before the budget discussion (Brown, Joy 3-0 motion passed) Discussion: the reason for moving this is that this agenda item may impact the budget discussion.

MOTION: to go into Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(d) involving Labor negotiations. (Brown, Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into Regular Session at 10:15 am with nothing to report.


Review of the 2017 Hancock County Budget:

Jim Schatz spoke as a BAC member making the following comments:

The support from CA Adkins and his staff has been incredible. He also expressed his appreciation for the work the Commission does. In Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) deliberations Jim was asked to provide a resolution regarding a problem they had observed over a number of years, involving reviewing positions, and being a little more aggressive auditing positions so that people are paid accordingly. It would be helpful in discussing these positions with individual managers. He knows the BAC is in an advisory role. Commissioner Joy thanked Schatz for his work on the BAC. He expressed that the Commission has heard what Schatz and the BAC have said, and they are working to compile the information and work on the numbers. Commissioner Brown said wages were reviewed last in 2011.

CA Adkins reported that presently in projection we should use some of the $400,000 transfer, but not all. Commissioner Brown said this was a workshop and nothing would be approved today. Commissioner Joy said the budget should be finalized and adopted by December 15.

3rd party donations- Commissioner Joy said of the $400,000 of Community Benefit Funds (CBF), he thought at least $100,000 should be used for projects. Commissioner Brown expressed concern about developing a dependence on using CBF for taxes. Commissioner Brown referenced several projects that we could help the community with- those are truly community benefits. Commissioner Blasi said he would take the Community Benefits and fund dept 17. He said otherwise he opposes Dept. 17 structure of not opening up the application process to the public at large. He said the application process for 3rd party donations is faulty, and that he would support this budget if CB revenues were used for 3rd party donations.  Commissioner Brown said he would rather open the process for grants like they originally did. He asked Commissioner Blasi if he would have all the 3rd parties reapply. Commissioner Blasi said it shows fairness, and he would look at all the requests and would split them, how much would be a matter of discussion. Commissioner Joy asked which number he would be in favor of, the BAC’s or the Commissioners. Commissioner Blasi said since he disagrees with the process he would like to see the whole thing funded from CBF.

MOTION: $165,835 for Dept 17- 3rd party donations. (Joy, Brown 2-0 Blasi abstains)

Commissioner Blasi said he opposes the admin fee as revenue in Dept 5. He said to either fund it from another source (he referenced community benefits or reserves) or reduce the expenses in that department. Commissioner Brown asked Treasurer Eldridge about other accounts that could be reduced, it was determined there were none. Commissioner Joy said this had been approved by the BAC, so he was moving on.

Commissioner Brown questioned 04-20-100- this included Sierra’s maintenance contract. Commissioner Joy said he does not like to take ongoing fees out of capital accounts.

Maintenance: Commissioner Brown said we need to put some money into courthouse technology this year. Commissioner Joy asked about the new MOU impact for 2017. CA Adkins said in prior years the courthouse lease line had been over budgeted, this year it is accurate.

EMA: Commissioner Joy asked about revenue line 02-3015, EMA Director Sankey said this was reimbursement for health insurance, the employee’s portion.

Probate: There was some discussion on the lines and what the year-to-date figures are. Register Coughlin said she could cut more from 07-600- training. Line 30-100 was discussed- Coughlin’s anticipation is to use less than the $500- it was agreed that that line could be $250, but line 30-105 looks to be lower than the 5 year actual. Legal fees were discussed- Coughlin explained that there was a significant increase in indigence cases.   She would like to see that line moved to $9000, but there was not a consensus among the commission to change the $8000. Line 07-10-002 postage was changed to $1750. Commissioner Joy asked about publishing and how often that happened. Coughlin said she wanted to increase the copier purchase line. Coughlin said one printer was getting older and she would need scanners eventually. Commissioner Joy said he would rather fund those from capital accounts and not raise those funds from taxes. Blasi asked about who is traveling for 3,000? Coughlin said this was for the Probate Judge, and she said she was attending the monthly meetings. Commissioner Brown said he cannot vote to go any higher than 1.5% given current negotiations. He would also not approve the Deputy’s step raise at this point. He pointed out that we are currently negotiation the union contract, and that makes things very difficult.

MOTION: Leave personnel services at 2017 Commissioners recommendation (Brown, Blasi, 2-0 Joy abstained)

At this point (12:20) a break was called for lunch.

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back to session. 

MOTION: to approve the 2017 Holiday Schedule for Hancock County employees (Brown, Joy, 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that he opposes it because of Columbus Day rather than Indigenous People’s Day.

 MOTION: to approve Commissioner Brown to sign the Deeds copier lease (Joy, Brown           3-0, motion passed)

Review of Rhyne vs. Town of Lamoine Tax Abatement written Commissioners decision:

Commissioner Blasi would like to revise in the draft Order minutes for the town to revise their assessing formula to account for the effect of the 2015 flood plain maps.

MOTION: to go into Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to review and discuss applications for the Finance Assistant position. (Brown, Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Joy called the meeting back into Regular Session. 

MOTION: to hire Pam Linscott as Finance Assistant for Hancock County, Pay grade 9 (Brown, Blasi, 2-0 Joy abstained) Commissioner Joy commented he abstained because he knew one of the applicants.

There was some discussion about keeping that office space staffed.

Adjustment to the agenda:

MOTION: To adjust the agenda to add an Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to discuss a personnel matter. (Brown, Joy 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to go into Executive Session under MRSA Title 1 §405 6(a) to discuss a personnel matter. (Brown, Joy, 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: To retain Meritain health plan for 2017 (Brown, Joy, 3-0 motion passed).

MOTION: to adjourn at 1:43 pm (Joy, Brown, 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Executive Asst. to the County Administrator

Official Website of Hancock County, Maine.                              Copyright 2020 All rights reserved.