Audio recordings of the meeting are available upon request

The special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Brown and Clark in attendance.

Chairperson Blasi opened the following bids for the Deeds software RFP; the results are as follows:

New Vision-   Bid price software only $3,125.00 per month (5 years)

 software and hardware $4,425 per month(5 years)

DTS- Bid price software only $3,000.00 per month (5 years)

Harris- Bid price software only $4,360.33 per month (5 years)

Kofile- $1.85 per document without hardware

            $2.05 per document with hardware

IQS- Bid price software only $6,550.00

 software and hardware$7,130.00

Fidlar- Bid price software only $3,770.86

software and hardware $4,352.50

Commissioner Brown asked Register of Deeds Curtis to compare the hardware with what she has now. Register Curtis said she will come back to the Commission the first meeting in April with a recommendation. 

Treasurer’s request- health insurance buy-out

Treasurer Eldridge said she knew nothing about the buyout until January of the current year.

CA Adkins gave the Commissioners a synopsis of the recording of the September 18, 2015 meeting when Treasurer Eldridge agreed to the County paying for her health insurance supplement. 

Commissioner Brown said anytime she wants the buyout from here on she can receive it, but it is evident that on March 25, 2015, the date on the health enrollment form, she declined coverage.

Commissioner Blasi asked if she could show that she was or was not offered the buyout.  Eldridge said she was not able to locate that in her file. Commissioner Blasi said we should come to some kind of settlement with Eldridge for the period of January 1, 2011 through August 31, 2015, and at that point she opted to take Martin’s Point.

Attorney Gary Hunt explained that Eldridge had consulted with him, and described what he understood the County’s Buy Out/Buy Down Policy to mean for Treasurer Eldridge.  Commissioner Clark said that elected officials have always been given the Meritain health, but in Eldridge’s case the County took a hybrid of the retiree health insurance program.  Attorney Hunt said she wasn’t offered this policy or made aware of this policy.  Commissioner Clark said he was considerate of the fact that Eldridge did not understand the policy, but that does not make the County responsible to go retroactive. Commissioner Clark’s recommendation was to recognize Janice’s request today for a buyout and not to recognize any before today, to pay the buyout from this time on and Eldridge would pay her own Martin’s Point Insurance.  Eldridge said that was not agreeable to her.  Eldridge said in the recording of the Commissioners’ meeting of September 18, 2015 that she was satisfied with her coverage. Her attorney maintained that she was not informed of this policy.  He said Eldridge wants the buyout retroactive to January of 2011.  CA Adkins asked if all parties are comfortable to discuss this in open session.  Eldridge said she was.  Brown said Clark was entitled to insurance as a county retiree, and is eligible to insurance as a Commissioner; this is why it is different than Eldridge’s situation. 

MOTION: in light of the fact the Treasurer Eldridge is receiving the buyout as of January 1, 2017 to take no action on her request for retroactive buyout compensation (Clark, Brown 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Workshop for TIF project priorities

  • Easement purchase:

UT Supervisor Millard Billings spoke about route 182, where it meets route 9, and connects to route 193; he said it gets tremendous use for snowmobiles and atvs, and four-wheel-drives during hunting season. His concern was that a sale of the area could close public access to that.

Billings said purchasing an easement would be a big link to the step of connecting the Sunrise Trail to Northern trail system.  Elgin Turner of Lakeville Shores pointed out where Lakeville Shores owns and said he would like to enter in discussion with the County regarding an easement, and that they like to ensure public access to their lands.  The Commission agreed that there is an interest in purchasing an easement for recreational use. Billings spoke about the easement owned by Blue Sky, the required maintenance, and how that would let the County off the hook for any maintenance. 

MOTION: that UT Supervisor Millard Billings be given the authority to negotiate with the landowner regarding an easement for public access on townships 9 and 16 (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

It was understood that anything further action would be brought before the Commission.

  • EMDC

There was some discussion on economic development and the kind of approach needed to spur economic development in the Unorganized Territories, particularly Township 8, which has the largest year-round population and is where the internet was recently installed.

A representative from EMDC said that once the Commission decided how they wished to spend their resources, EMDC would help them leverage those resources for private investment.  He said the first step would be to clearly articulate the vision and goal, listing what the County is prepared to do. Identify economic challenges facing.  Commissioner Brown said they were looking for a project to put people to work, something that is environmentally friendly and leaves a small carbon footprint.  Commissioner Blasi questioned whether a photovoltaic manufacturing facility was feasible in township 8.  Commissioner Clark questioned what the chances are of attracting local business to the area.  UT Supervisor Billings will work with EMDC to identify property, and EMDC will come back with a proposal.  Commissioner Blasi said he is interested in water quality, if that could be included in their proposal.  Commissioner Clark said he would like to see that many of these projects have a county-wide benefit.

  • Gassabius Stream Bridge repair/replacement:

UT Supervisor Billings reported that there is no ability to get to that area with grooming equipment because of the current state of the bridge. Commissioner Clark said improving the bridge would improve the economic value of ATV and snowmobiling in the wintertime, and he would like to see an effort made to get estimates of what that would cost.  Billings asked about what kind of specs would need to build the bridge, if it would be used for fire trucks. Commissioner Clark said the right design would be of minimal impact, and there may be landowners that would like to contribute, perhaps we could provide seed money.  Billings said he could talk to landowners.

  • Nicatous parking lot

UT Supervisor Billings reported that this area needs to be cleaned up. Billings thought they could do this with the road budget, and not use TIF funds.

There was no interest in paving the Nicatous Road. 

The Nicatous Public Boat Launch was taken off the list of priorities.

Commissioner Brown said maybe we could talk to Ellsworth School and see if we can get the bus schedule adjusted so kids don’t have to spend as much time on the school bus.  Commissioner Clark said we have meager funds and we shouldn’t spend them to solve a problem that the residents have with the State.  Billings was directed to talk to the City of Ellsworth to see if they have received any complaints before we go further. 

Break 10:33 am

Back in session 10:39

Hancock Wind TIF

UT Supervisor Billings said the priority was to get RCC working with 3rd party to get the radio communications tower on Mt. Waldo, or that area. He said this TIF money can be used for lease/rental, not for purchase. The agreement needs to be in order before ordering and investing in the equipment. Billings said the Waldo Radio tower project would take most of the money.

Community Benefits Discussion:

There was some discussion about the actual amount of money that is available to be spent.  Commissioner Brown gave a history of how the fire truck came about. UT Supervisor Billings listed the things that the contract specifies that the CBA money can be used for-

Commissioner Brown said he wanted to find out what was happening with Mt Waldo before discussing this further.  It was decided to put this on the next agenda.

There was some discussion on the Hancock County sign on the border of Hancock/Washington Counties.  It needs repair and/or replacement.  Billings said he would look into it and get some prices.

Signing of 2016 RCC and Sheriff’s Office Union Contracts

The Commissioners signed the 2016 RCC and Sheriff’s Office Union Contracts.

Storm Closure Policy Amendments

Commissioner Blasi highlighted the changes he would like to have made to the current policy. Commissioner Brown said that policy we currently have is fine, and addresses any issues that may arise.  Commissioner Clark would like to see the entire Policy rewritten.  He spoke about a storm related staff reduction policy, and that the decision to close the building should be made in consultation with the courts. 

MOTION: to have CA Adkins develop a new storm related staff reduction policy and new storm day closing policy (Clark/Blasi, 3-0 motion passed)

Review of proposed amendments to the County Health Insurance Buy-out policy

Commissioner Brown said this would not be an appropriate time to make this change.  He said he is not opposed to a change. It was decided to take no action on this. 

Administrator Report

CA Adkins updated the Commissioners on the Swan’s Island Contract side letter. The Commission was satisfied with the changes. 

MOTION: that the chairman be authorized to sign on behalf of the Commission the 3rd draft of the side agreement relating to Swan’s Island contract between Hancock County and the union with regards to the $100 stipend paid to the deputy ( Clerk/Brown 3-0, motion passed)

It was agreed to set the abatement hearing for March 28, 2017.  CA Adkins was directed to notify the property owners and towns involved.


Jail Administrator Richardson reported that there is a jail employee who has been out on medical leave, a non-work-related  shoulder injury.  He has gone beyond his FMLA time, and needs an approved leave of absence without pay. 

MOTION: to allow an unpaid leave of absence for jail employee Jonathan Merchant for 30 days as of March 1, 2017 for (Brown/Blasi, 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION to adjourn 11:59 am (Brown/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Executive Assistant to the County Administrator



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