The special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday February 21, 2019 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Clark, Wombacher, and Blasi in attendance.

Discussion with Allegiant Care (Health Insurance Conversion); Christina Kosha, Fund Director / Allegiant Care;Scott McKee, Acadia Benefits / County’s Broker:

Commissioner Blasi opened with questions from the commission.  Commissioner Clark asked how intimate the relationship is between Allegiant and Teamsters Union- he wanted to be reassured that if negotiations broke down would we not see some adverse action from Allegiant.  Kosha said Allegiant Care is a separate entity- they work with the union to provide a proposal that meets the needs of a new group and they often answer questions about rate renewal, but apart from that there is not a whole lot of involvement on the part of Allegiant Care in negotiations themselves.  If negotiations are stalled as long as premiums are paid Allegiant Care continues to provide the benefits.  Kosha said if negotiations have nothing to do with health and welfare, they are not typically aware of the status of negotiations.

Commissioner Clark asked if we are we going to see a huge increase later if we take on this plan at this time with these rates.  Kosha said no, that this is the cost of the plan; she explained how the cost of the plan is spread over all members.  Scott McKee of Acadia Benefits said for cost stability the larger the member pool the better, although it will not affect cost inflation. Commissioner Wombacher asked what the trend has been in terms of cost over the last five years.  Kosha said the municipal populations of the plan are pooled together separately; the trend for that population has been about 6% annually and prescription inflation has been about 5or 6%, and dental and vision have been much smaller, 2-4%.    McKee said MMEHT was similar; that represents medical inflation in the northeast.  Commissioner Clark explained the different categories of our group members and asked if the plan would cover all categories of employees.  Kosha said yes, although they do have a separate supplemental plan for the Medicare eligible retirees.  Kosha said retirees who are not Medicare eligible would be covered by the active plan.  Commissioner Blasi asked about the supplemental for Medicare eligible retirees; Kosha said the coverage was comprehensive and similar to what retirees are currently getting.

Commissioner Clark asked how comparable the Allegiant Care plan is to what we are providing now to our employees.  Kosha said there are some differences but from an actuarial standpoint they are comparable.  McKee said from a member standpoint they are comparable.  In reference to a question regarding the prescription plan, Kosha said the Allegiant Care plan covers most pharmacies with the exclusion of Walmart, Walgreens, or Sam’s Club.  Kosha said another option is the mail order.  Commissioner Clark said we may have to accept the fact that certain pharmacies are not options.  Commissioner Wombacher asked if prescriptions were covered at all by these pharmacies; Kosha said they would not be covered at all, with rare exceptions.  An employee asked about cases when the quantity of an individual prescription may be limited to one and referenced the mail order.   Kosha said there are certain cases where it makes sense to go retail and that may be one of them.  The employee asked if the pharmacy does not provide prescriptions that are medically necessary how that is handled.  Kosha said Allegiant had a similar situation with the Walgreens/Rite-aid merger, so they worked with them and put an override in the system; after that they were able to switch to mail order.  Kosha said whenever there is the option to switch to mail order Allegiant is going to ask that the member do that, but if it’s an immediate need the program will work with the members. 

Kosha described the preferred formulary that is followed for covered prescriptions.  Kosha said if the county wanted to provide a de-personalized list of claims Allegiant could do a disruption analysis.  Kosha will provide the formulary to the county which can be distributed to employees. Kosha said there are often changes to the formulary, and that there is always an appeal policy for prescriptions that are not on the formulary. 

An employee asked about the out of pocket limit.  Kosha said there is a medical out of pocket limit and a prescription out of pocket limit; coinsurance is on the allowed amount.  Commissioner Blasi asked about Meritain run-out fees.  McKee said the Meritain administrative fee will be paid with one invoice; he expected that we would have due 80% of run-out costs in the first 40 days, but will continue for 300 days. This is part of the normal process as there will be administrative work.  Commissioner Clark asked if there is a penalty for getting out of Meritain.  McKee said Meritain has a standard termination clause that determines a particular amount dependent on when termination happens in the plan year.  It’s a per employee per month fee.  McKee said the administrative costs are roughly $30,000 to pay them to administer the run out.  McKee said they estimated claims costs to be $240,000 over the next 12 months but most of that will be paid during the first 40 days.   Commissioner Clark asked how long it takes to get into the program- Kosha said ideally this would be 60 days or 90 days.  McKee said we told Meritain we would give notice 45 days before switching plans; a new plan should take effect on the first day of a month.  CA Adkins recommended no earlier than June 1.

An employee asked about legal defense for law enforcement members as part of the plan.  Teamsters representative Joe Piccone said that would be in addition to the risk pool coverage the county has.  It is for law enforcement members only; it would be something separate that they could access on their own.  Piccone explained the process and said the employee needs to elect to use this.  Kosha explained that dental and visions plans come together, either dental and vision, or neither.  There needs to be a side letter in place with the two current union contracts; Piccone said he is obligated to have a conversation with the other 2 bargaining units regarding this change.

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: adjust agenda to sign the contract with Sierra as letter J under Commissioners (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Approval of minutes:

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the February 5, 2019 Commissioners’ Regular Meeting (Clark/Blasi 3-20, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the February 7, 2019 Commissioners’ Special Meeting (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0-1 Clark abstains)


MOTION: Approve the upward transfer of part time corrections officer Daniel Cox to full time corrections officer at step 9a $15.60, effective February 23, 2019 (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the upward transfer of part time corrections officer Rebecca Long to full time corrections officer at step 9a $15.60, effective February 23, 2019 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the renewal agreement with Chelsea Howard, NP for medical services in the jail (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


Director Andrew Sankey introduced Deputy Director / Planner Andrew Braley.  Deputy Director Braley has been engaged with HC EMA as a volunteer with the agency prior to being hired.  He has recently received his national certification as a paramedic; Sankey said his public safety background makes him very valuable to Hancock County.

Director Sankey reported the agency has been consumed with school safety and planning.  They have also been working with medical facilities to conduct all hazards planning and comprehensive training exercises.  Richard Bishop continues to provide planning assistance on a part time basis.  Currently EMA is engaged in preparations for a table top exercise followed by full scale exercise on behalf of Acadia National Park. 


The commission reviewed the letter included with tax invoices.  They discussed the terms of collections.  Interest rates have gone from 8% in 2018 to 9% in 2019.  Treasurer Boucher said 60 days after September, if the tax invoice is not paid, the county will collect interest on a day to day basis.  Boucher said he wanted to avoid this but the point must be made that the county will collect interest.

MOTION: sign the recapitulation assessment of county tax (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he wanted to commend the treasurer on carrying out his duties as prescribed by law to collect municipal taxes.


MOTION: pay the invoice to the Town of Gouldsboro for the paving on our portion in township 7 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Wombacher expressed that he was pleased with the letter.  Commissioner Blasi said we appreciate the work they did but it would be better if they had informed the county before the work was done.


MOTION: Accept the resignation of part time probate clerk Elizabeth Linnell, effective February 28, 2019 (Clark/Blasi 3-0 motion passed)

Approval to advertise for part time clerk position-

The commission agreed to advise the Probate Registrar to wait a period of 30-45 days in order to acclimate the recent new hire to the office, although the Registrar could discuss this with the commission at the March 5 meeting.  The commission took no action on this item but agreed to defer it to a future meeting.

Break 9:51 am- 10: 01am

Community Benefit Award presentations

Commissioner Clark said the commission received14 applications and awarded to 7; they closely followed strict and lengthy criteria.  The commissioners presented the Community Benefit Grant awards to the following applicants:

Healthy Acadia                                               $20,000

Friends in Action                                            $10,000

Ellsworth Free Medical Clinic                        $20,000

Beth Wright Cancer Center                           $10,000

Maine Center for Coastal Fisheries                 $10,000

Families First Community Center                  $25,000

Acadia Area ATVers                                        $5,000


Jail and Maintenance Propane cost sharing formula- Director Walls said at this point he did not have data to effectively calculate this; he wanted to collect data over the course of a whole season.  Commissioner Blasi said his intent was to relieve the jail of unnecessary payment of this product.  Commissioner Wombacher asked how the 60/40 split was done to begin with. Commissioner Clark said when the jail was built 20 years ago some thought was put into it that split but to have an analysis done professionally is expensive and there is no reason to spend that kind of money.  CA Adkins recommended working this into the next budget.  He is opposed to removing expenses from the jail because it shows the funding; he said positive momentum is being made in securing sufficient funding for jails. Commissioner Blasi wanted Director Walls to report on this in July in preparation of the budget; Walls agreed.

The 5 year maintenance plan was reviewed.  The chiller in the SO was added to 2022 at $40,000.  Director Walls said although we just installed an access system, this is only a starting point- it should be expanded to every major office door.  This was moved to 2021 at $60,000.  There was some discussion on heat pumps and the benefits; Director Walls said he puts 3-4 in his budget every year.  Commissioner Blasi wanted to budget a department reserve account for heat pumps.  The commission considered installing the 15 remaining heat pumps this year.  The benefit of doing this now is the efficiency the heat pumps produce.  Director Walls said this would have to go out to bid and he will develop an RFP.  $90,000 was added to Heat Pumps Installation for 2019.  $260,000 remains in 10 year County Building / Central Heating plan as a contingency; this will address the economic life of our equipment.

MOTION: Maintenance Director be authorized to go out to bid for the purchase and installation of approximately 15 heat pumps for the courthouse (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Director Walls will perform an inventory to assess the exact number of heat pumps required.

MOTION: authorize the Maintenance Director to solicit bids for repairing the leaks in the courthouse basement (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Shed drawing- Facilities Director Walls presented a preliminary drawing for review.  Walls said the shed will go on the slab in front of the jail yard wall.  Commissioner Clark asked him to consider adding another door, in case a tractor was housed there.  Director Walls said the next step was to wait for spring and determine funding.  Commissioner Clark said they would attempt to do this with volunteer labor.  Walls reported that the generator test seemed to indicate that this generator would serve the entire building, with a transfer switch. The estimate is $25,000.  Director Walls said he would get the proposal from Hampden Electric and bring that back for commission review.


MOTION: Insert the previously adopted Airport Advisory Committee Resolution to the Management and Policy Manual (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Clark said he approved this with the understanding that this does not restrict the administrative staff from including policies as they see fit.

MOTION: end membership with County Clerk’s Association (Blasi/motion withdrawn)

CA Adkins said he was a member of this association.

The commission considered inserting language into the Personnel Policies, section VI. Selection Process Policy on Personnel Vacancies and Hiring Procedures that allows the option of advertising job vacancies on websites that appropriately associate with the vacancy instead of a newspaper advertisement.  The commission will continue the conversation at the March 5 meeting.

MOTION: CB Budget Transfer / $ 400,000 – Approval from the Commissioners to move this amount from the 2018 / Fund 3 / Designated Fund Balance (G 3-3025-05 / CB Offset Taxes) into the 2018 / Budget / Revenue (R 49-999 / Transfer In) (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

CB Donations – Discuss the EMDC & Open Door donation accounts (currently $50k each) towards the HC Workforce Development Program – The commission agreed it would be appropriate for the organizations to address the commission to review their work and to ask for funding rather than automatically receive funding.

Lunch 11:38-12:00 p.m.

Community Benefits Dashboard- Commissioner Blasi said up until recently we have simply used CB money case by case and he is suggesting a more focused approach. Commissioner Wombacher said he liked the idea of having a larger plan in mind of the future.  Commissioner Blasi prompted the commission to name the projects they would like to see CB funds designated to.  Commissioner Clark said he would like to see a CB summary report including the year-to-date data before trying to project future expenses.  Commissioner Blasi said he would like to see capital improvements funded in part by CB.  When CA Adkins questioned why he wanted to do this, saying the plan was fully funded, Commissioner Blasi said he was focused on taxpayer relief, and why not add CB funds towards projects rather than continually tax for them.  Commissioner Clark said the only way to help tax relief would be through the annually budgeted amount.

Meritain renewal documents-

MOTION: sign the 3 month aggregate terminal liability endorsement (Wombacher/Blasi motion and second withdrawn

MOTION: sign the documents for the Meritain health insurance renewal (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

These documents include the Amendment to Administrative Services Agreement, Summary of Material Modification and Amendment #3, Summary of Material Modification and Amendment #4, and Stop Loss Insurance.

MOTION: advertise for full time IT position (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

We will continue to use Sierra Communications and current IT Administrator Grindle during the transition period. 

Deliberations regarding Hancock County Unorganized Territory Water Quality Protection and Community Bill of Rights for Local Self-Governance Ordinance- review of public hearing and submitted comment tally sheets and notes:

Commissioner Blasi said the existing draft otherwise does not meet the criteria contained in title 30-A section 7501.  He reviewed the public comment submitted and the associated tally sheets.  Commissioner Blasi referenced a memo received from DA Foster, and said there is no authority for us to adopt or take any action on the ordinance.  He said the public hearing process was beneficial and during it the community learned many things including how much concern there was about protecting water quality, and concern about possible construction of the East West corridor.  He said he understood the concern of the citizens to be that they did not feel that protection by the state government was adequate for the UT.  Commissioner Wombacher said he thought this has been a worthwhile discussion and he got a lot out of reading the testimonies from people.  He said the commission should see what they can do to ensure water quality and concern for the environment.  He said he is not ready to say today what that would be but it was important for him to make sure constituents know they were heard and their comments were taken seriously.  Commissioner Clark said he respects the intentions of the people who supported this ordinance but we did a real disservice to that group and others who support water quality by taking the actions we took, and leaving them with a sense that this board has the ability to improve water quality in the UT through an ordinance process that we should have known from day one we did not have.  He said our District Attorney told us in 2017 that we should have the ordinance reviewed by a land use regulation attorney in order to produce an ordinance that would be effective and legal to enact.  Commissioner Clark said we wouldn’t have dashed the hopes of people today, and wouldn’t have infuriated UT landowners who said should this ordinance pass they would restrict access to their lands.  Commissioner Clark said he wanted to put attempts to pass this ordinance to bed and reassure the public and the landowners in the UT that they still have their rights under Maine law.  Commissioner Blasi said a motion was not required, there was simply no action taken.  He said the statute gives other options including a watershed district that would be comprised of UT residents and suggested we inform them of their ability to form a district and if they showed interest point them in the direction the statute calls for.  Another possibility is to draft an ordinance using an attorney of the commissions’ choice to accomplish the particular purpose in the statute of preserving and protecting county roads.  He said DA Foster’s memo addresses that and other things.  Commissioner Blasi said the commission is at a neutral point and he would like to inform the UT residents about the watershed district opportunity.  Commissioner Wombacher said the subject of the corridor is huge; it could very well come before the commission again.  Commissioner Wombacher said he will not vote in support of any corridor in Hancock County.  Commissioner Clark said they could have strong opinions, but he cautioned them in using this board to further personal agendas on issues.  Any attempt to restrict development that the commission does not have authority by statute to make is going to incur thousands of dollars in litigation that will be on the taxpayer.  He said DA Foster was referring to public county roads, not private.  Commissioner Clark said section 7501 basically allows the county to provide services in the UT that municipalities supply, unless they are already provided by the state; land use regulation in the UT is provided by the state.  CA Adkins pointed out that staff time involved in this is significant and accumulates.  Commissioner Wombacher said the idea of a watershed district might be an option but it is not necessarily the commission who should solicit this, it could be generated by environmental organizations who could reach out to those residents.

MOTION: approve the email contract with Sierra for email filter services as presented (Blasi/Clark3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: to adjourn 12:59 p.m. (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator

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