The special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday September 17, 2019 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Clark and Wombacher in attendance.

Maine Courts and Site Evaluation

State Court Administrator Ted Glessner addressed the commission regarding court facilities.  He suggested conducting a space study to get a sense of what the needs are for the courts as well as for the county.  They would contract with architect Mark Carter for the study.  A proposal would come once the assessment is complete and needs are determined.  This would lead to a project funded by the State for the State’s needs in the courthouse.  The study would look at the state’s and county’s needs simultaneously. Glessner described similar work done to court facilities in Houlton, Machias, and Belfast.  Glessner said before approaching the legislature for funding they would need the County’s support and the completed assessment.  Architect Carter said a study typically takes 3-4 months.  Commissioner Blasi referenced the old jail as possible space, as long as permits and arrangements with all involved parties were in order.  Jeff Henthorn, Director of Court Facilities, said in order to complete the space study the architect would need access to the Facilities Director, department heads, and the building itself, to get a sense of what space is needed.  The commission agreed and asked CA Adkins to communicate the project and requirements to department heads.  Commissioner Blasi asked about installing solar; Henthorn said they are open to solar and have examined this for other projects. 

MOTION: endorse the assessment by the Maine Court System for the Hancock County Courthouse (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: add discussion of Northern Light Pharmacy agreement after Maintenance (Blasi/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Public Comment: none

MOTION: Executive Session under MRSA Title 1§405 6(A) to discuss County Administrator’s contract (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: sign 3 year contract with Scott Adkins as proposed to us in a document that Scott presently has providing an increase each year in salary and an increase each year in severance pay for a term of three years (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he would not sign the contract; he suggested a salary cap of $85,000 for all appointed / exempt employees and this contracted amount exceeds that.

Budget Workshop:

Jail (24)

Revenues $2,656,671

Expenditures $2,656,671

Commissioner Blasi wanted to raise the building line to $30,000.  Commissioner Wombacher said as long as the Jail Administrator feels confident with the numbers it could stay at $25,000.

MOTION: 2020 jail budget revenue shall be $2,656,671 and their expenditure budget will be $2,656,671 (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi felt the building line should be $5,000 more, as in the 2019 budget.

Sheriff (10)

Commissioner Blasi questioned line 30-525 Criminal Investigations Report; Sheriff Kane said in accounts like this they wait until the end of the year to replenish the items they need. 

Commissioner Clark referenced line 70-300 and suggested adding another $10,000 to that line, making it $50,000.  Commissioners Blasi and Wombacher agreed.

MOTION: the Sheriff’s 2020 revenues shall be $13,100 and expenditures for 2020 budget be $1,513,166 (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioners (04)

MOTION: the Commissioners’ 2020 expenditure budget be $297,481 (Clark/Blasi 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he was opposing this particular department budget because of the County Administrator contract.

The Budget Calculation sheet shows the following:

Total Expenditures of $8,471,521

Total Revenues of $2,083,834; this is an increase of 6.42% over last year’s budget.  The commission discussed transfers; they agreed on a $100,000 transfer.  After the transfer the increase over 2019 budget is 4.76%.

MOTION: include a $100,000 transfer (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: adopt the calculation sheet that provides for an amount of $6,287,687 to be raised through taxation (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Approval of minutes:

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the September 3, 2019 Commissioners’ Regular Meeting (Blasi/motion failed for lack of second)

MOTION: remove the last full sentence on the fifth page of the September 3rd minutes regarding Commissioner Blasi’s comment in the County Administrator’s contract salary (Clark, motion failed for lack of second)

Commissioner Clark said this particular comment was not appropriate because it was an opinion by one board member of something that should have been discussed in executive session.  He thought the comment should be removed from the minutes and the chairman should be more considerate of comments made in opposition to proposed minutes. 

Commissioner Blasi said this comment was also made in the written record of a meeting in 2018; he simply repeated the comment.

MOTION: approve the minutes of September 3, 2019 as shown in our meeting books (Blasi/Wombacher 2-1 Clark opposed, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the September 12, 2019 Commissioners’ Special Meeting (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


Jail Administrator Richardson explained that as of September 27, 2019 Northern Light Pharmacy will be sold to Bangor Drug LTC.  Northern Light Pharmacy submitted a letter to the County for signature, approving the transition of pharmaceutical services for the jail from Northern Light Pharmacy to Bangor Drug. 

MOTION: formally approve the contracting of pharmaceutical services to Bangor Drug (Blasi/Clark, motion and 2nd withdrawn)

MOTION: Commissioners sign the notice from Northern Light Pharmacy that terminates their pharmacy services as of September 27, 2019 (Blasi/Clark motion and second withdrawn)

After discussion, the commission agreed not to sign the letter but wanted to determine who the County would be contracting with.

MOTION: send a letter to Northern Light Pharmacy acknowledging that as of September 27, 2019 we will no longer contract with them for pharmacy services (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)


Property Damage Report- Discuss Filing a Claim

Facilities Director Walls submitted a report and photos of repairs made to the ceiling and drainpipe in the Commissioners’ Meeting Room.  Commissioner Blasi asked how we could show our Risk Pool that this is a valid claim.  Facilities Director Walls said he was not in a position to make a claim, and he did not have an opinion on whether this would be a legitimate claim.  Walls said the room held an old carpet that had been damaged many times, and the recent event brought us to the point that we needed a new floor.  Commissioner Clark said he witnessed that the floor underneath the carpet held dry sawdust, evidence that there was not water damage.   Walls said the cost to the county for the ceiling and pipe repair was roughly $1,000, which is the cost of the insurance deductible.  The commission agreed not to pursue a claim.


Attorney Retention Discussion- Commissioner Clark expressed concern about the cost of an attorney, particularly one as far away as Portland; he would like to search Bangor for a good collective bargaining attorney.  Commissioners Wombacher and Blasi agreed.  The commission directed CA Adkins to begin a search and bring them names for consideration.  Commissioner Blasi suggested considering Acadia Law Partners as well.

Appointed Exempt Salary Cap Discussion

Commissioner Blasi suggested adding to the exempt and elected pay policy that salaries for exempt employees will be capped at $85,000, and the cap amount will be revisited for discussion annually, perhaps during budgeting. He said the rationale is that the commissioners establish an upper limit.  Commissioner Clark said action taken earlier in the meeting would be in violation of that, and it only applies to one individual in the county, whose compensation is closely scrutinized every time there is a contract negotiation. Commissioner Clark said this scrutiny far exceeds any written policy and he did not want to be bound or limited by an unrealistic policy.  Commissioner Wombacher said the desire to keep County funds under control is good, but he did not support adding a cap.  He said other places where a salary cap has been imposed, such as a school superintendent position, has had an adverse effect on hiring. 

Finalize 2020 County Budget

The proposed budget has been approved and the commissioners will formally approve the budget once the Budget Advisory Committee’s recommendations have been considered.  Commissioner Blasi asked Chief Deputy Kane if potential employees hired for the shellfish program should be included in the budget.  Chief Deputy Kane said at this point it was premature because nothing has been agreed to regarding the County’s part in the program.  He said if it does come to fruition funds that come in from the program will be used to compensate the employees, so he does not see this as a budget item that needs to be addressed.

The 2020 Budget Public Hearing will be held Wednesday September 25, 2019 at 6 pm in the Commissioners’ meeting room. 

MOTION: to adjourn 10:27 am (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator

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