The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 am on Tuesday, November 20, 2018 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioner Clark in attendance.

Recognition of 2018 Spirit of America award recipients

The commission recognized the following organizations and people from Hancock County who were recipients of the 2018 Spririt of America awards: Beverly Billings of Franklin; Lamoine Volunteer Fire Department; Stuart Burr of Mount Desert; Robert “Bruce” Cameron of Trenton; Tom Welgoss of Surry; Karl Holmes and Eric Treworgy of Surry; Pat Jencks of Surry; Bucksport Heart & Soul; Alfred Jellison of Dedham; Deb Freeman of Orland; and Colby Pert of Sedgwick.

Public Comment: none

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: sheriff’s statement be listed as item 1(a); item 1(b) will be discussion about side letter with union; and item 1(c) be a discussion about funding for handguns (Clark/ Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

MOTION: add item 4(g) executive session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) for union negotiations- corrections  (Blasi/Clark 2-0, motion passed)

Sheriff Kane read a statement regarding a post on the Sheriff’s Office facebook page about school resource officers.  Sheriff Kane thanked the commission for the opportunity to read the statement and asked that a copy be placed in the meeting records.

Discussion of side letter- Sheriff Kane said he was made aware that grants that the county currently receives will not pay the wage of $50/hr as required by union contract.  Sheriff Kane said the union agreed to a side letter stating that the officers will be paid at the time and one half rate in order to continue to take advantage of some of these grants.  The letter has not yet been drafted; Commissioner Clark said he would like the record to reflect the commission is in agreement to this starting now, and will make the act official when they have a letter.

Discussion about funding for firearms- Sheriff Kane said when he drafted his budget he was unaware of issues with the firearms and is requesting that the commission change line 70-305 to $9,000 in the 2019 budget.  Commissioner Blasi referenced the equipment account, and wanted to know why it was not suitable for this purchase.  Sheriff Kane said that was to purchase other equipment during the year; not this item.  Commissioner Clark said the commission worked very hard to get the budget finalized and he would like to find the money from a reserve account this year and replace it in the 2020 budget.  Sheriff Kane said he had money remaining in the 2018 budget in other accounts that could be used to purchase the items; he referenced account 01-310 Mechanic. Commissioner Clark wanted to allow the sheriff to overrun that line, and with underspending the Mechanic line the budget would balance out at the end of the year.   Commissioner Blasi said he did not agree with that; he did not want to overexpend lines but wanted the sheriff to find a different line with remaining funds to make the purchase.  

MOTION: sheriff be authorized to exceed the budget for line 10-70-305 in the amount of $6,000 which he will cover with a $6,000 surplus in line 10-01-310 Mechanics salary (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)


Discussion- extension of unpaid leave until December 13, 2018

MOTION: authorize the sheriff to provide unpaid leave for Heather Sullivan until December 13, 2018 (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)


Discussion- Department 8 line 30-110/Legal Fees

Register Coughlin requested that the commission reconsider increasing legal fees to $10,000 for 2019.  Commissioner Clark said again the commission has worked hard to to finalize the budget, and he woud prefer to allow department heads to overexpend lines with commission acknowledgment and cover that expense somewhere else.  Commissioners Clark and Blasi agreed to leave the figure at $8,000.


Cost of County Corrections- CA Adkins advised the Commission that this project has been put on hold by both the Maine County Commissioners Association and Maine Sheriffs’ Association.

County Treasurer Election Results and Discussion of Plans – At this time election results are still not available.

Personnel Policy / Discipline & Termination – CA Adkins reviewed the work presented at the November 7, 2018 meeting and asked for additional edits.  This project will be presented for further review at the next meeting.

Sierra Communications- Discussion, review & approval of 2 year contract-

The commission reviewed the contract; Commissioner Blasi questioned the hourly labor rate and whether it could be included in the contract.  CA Adkins sent an email to the vendor and an updated copy with that item included was presented to the commission.

Vacation time buy-out request- Maintenance Director Walls requested that the commission authorize Asst. Facilities Director David Linnell to buy out 40 hours of vacation time.  Linnell exceeded the maximum vacation benefit accrual and would be losing earned hours of vacation.  Recently an incident with the generator interrupted a scheduled use of this vacation time.  Commissioner Clark said when this was granted in the past it had to do with a specific situation that was unavoidable and the department head was able to identify a specific situation that was the cause.  Walls referenced the lack of inmate help as the cause. Commissioner Clark suggested approving an extension of Linnell’s vacation accrual for ninety days; during this time Linnell was expected to take vacation time to bring him back under the maximum.

MOTION: allow vacation time benefit  of Asst. Facilities Director David Linnell to continue to accrue on a weekly basis for the next  90 days to the end of the payroll week beginning February 16, 2019 with the intention of giving him time off to get the accrual below the maximum of 200 hours (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

Vacancies – commissioners to serve in the following positions: EMDC Board Director; Maine County Commissioners Association representative; Workforce and Investment board member

MOTION: Commissioner Blasi be appointed as the Eastern Maine Development Corporation Board Director for Hancock County for 2019 (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Commissioner Clark be the Hancock County 2019 representative for Maine County Commissioners Association (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

The Workforce and Investment board member representative will be determined at the January 2019 meeting.

MOTION: enter executive session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) to discuss union negotiations- corrections  (Blasi/Clark 2-0, motion passed)

Scott McKee, Acadia Benefits-

Scott McKee of Acadia Benefits presented the commission with updated information regarding the current Meritain Self-Funded Insurance plan, a copy of a survey report for the Comparison of Industry and National Benchmarks and a proposal from Maine Municipal Health Trust for 2019 health coverage, as well as a quote for renewal with Meritain.  The quote from Meritain was valid through November 26, 2018; after that date the quote would likely change.  After discussion Commissioner Clark recommended entering executive session to discuss the effect of this item on upcoming labor negotiations and current contracts.

MOTION : go into executive session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(D) to discuss the implication of health insurance on our union contracts (Blasi/Clark 2-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Clark said during the executive session no decision was made; the group discusssed implications of changing health plans and the effect on union contracts.

MOTION: renew contract for another year with Meritain Health (Clark

This motion received no second, but after discussion Commissioner Clark renewed the motion.

MOTION: renew contract for another year with Meritain Health (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Clark expressed concern that delaying the decision would only increase the cost.  Commissioner Blasi wanted to accept the quote from MMEHT and contract with them for 2019.  He referenced rising costs and said he has advocated for several years for changing to the MMEHT Premium Plan. McKee said the cost volatility of being self- funded for an empoyer of this size and spikes such as occurred in 2014 are reasons why they don’t recommend that small employers be self- funded.  He said what concerns him is the volatility and the unknown of an extremely high cost claim; and for that reason they don’t recommend self-funded plans for employers with less than 200-300 employees.  Commissioner Clark was willing to make a commitment to resolving any issues involved with switching plans in 2019.  Commissioner Blasi asked about additional options with MMEHT: whether we could move to MMEHT at a point other than January 1, 2019, and would the rate quote be honored by MMEHT.  During a short break, Scott McKee contacted MMEHT.  McKee reported that MMEHT would allow Hancock County to join the plan with 60 days notice at any time during the year (first of the month) and the rates in the proposal would be the rates paid for the remainder of 2019.  The commission was in agreement to begin reviewing health insurance options as early as possible in 2019.  All were in agreement that this item needs attention going forward considering the rising costs.

MOTION: direct our broker to begin the process of enrolling in MMEHT immediately (Blasi/motion died for lack of second

Commissioner Blasi wanted a future agenda item to revisit the health insurance discussion.

Break 11:30 -11:35

2019 Budget Informational Meeting

MOTION: for the calendar year 2019 expenditures for Hancock County be $8,335,157;  total revenues be $2,333,084; for an amount to be raised through taxation of $6,002,073; meaning a 2.86% increase over 2018 (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi made the following statement:

“The commissioners accomplished certain objectives with this budget, the principle one is adherence to the 2/3 membership BAC voting requirement.  Therefore I am signing the 2019 budget with the only qualifier being that I do not support the increase it contains for the County Administrator’s salary.”

MOTION: approve the 2 year contract with Sierra Communications for IT services (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Adjourn 11:51 am (Clark/Blasi 2-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator






Official Website of Hancock County, Maine.                              Copyright 2021 All rights reserved.