The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Blasi at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday November 5, 2019 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Clark and Wombacher in attendance.

Employee recognition:  Deputy Chris Thornton was recognized for 15 years of service to the County of Hancock.  Corrections Officer Matthew Saucier-Gilbert was recognized for 5 years of service to the County of Hancock.

Adjustments to agenda:

MOTION:  Move item 11a budget calculation sheet to either become a portion of, or come directly after, the budget informational meeting at 10:00 a.m. (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Public Comment: none

Approval of minutes:

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the October 15, 2019 Commissioners’ Special Meeting (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)


Monthly Report- Airport Manager Brad Madeira reported that the annual FAA inspection revealed only one finding of substance: approximately 1,000 sf area of distressed pavement that should be repaved.  One of the spring AIP grants will include that project.

Manager Madeira reported that some operating accounts have been overdrawn.  Deputy CA Knowlton attended Public Information Officer training through the NTSB in Virginia, which was not originally budgeted for.  Commissioner Clark suggested that since the training will be of benefit to overall county operations, not simply the Airport, that the Commissioners’ training and travel budget lines be utilized to cover any overages. 

MOTION: airport access up to $1,200 to cover any overages incurred in travel and training expenses for Deputy CA Knowlton’s travel to PIO training (Clark/Wombacher 2-0-1, Blasi abstained)

A combination of travel/training accounts will be used depending on what is needed.

Manager Madeira reported that an informational meeting was held October 19 to discuss the environmental assessment project regarding the future potential need to cut trees on neighboring properties to ensure safe access to the airport.  Four project readiness forms have been submitted to the FAA; these are AIP eligible.

MOTION:  approval to go out to bid to purchase ARFF PPE (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

The equipment is for one new hire and replacement gear for an existing ARFF employee.  Inspections revealed that the current employee’s gear requires replacement due to age.  The estimated cost for the required gear is $10,855.00.

MOTION: approval for the Chairman to sign Jacobs Project Contract #E2X75511 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


Three Rivers Solar Power, LLC received a certificate of compliance through LUPC.  Supervisor Billings reported that he authorized paving the T7SD section of the Gouldsboro Point Rd; a portion of the Village Road also requires work.

Supervisor Billings updated the commission on the small business proposal and request for funding that had previously been submitted by a Fletchers Landing resident.  The commission reviewed materials provided by EMDC.  There was some discussion on the process.  CA Adkins said we are looking to establish a process that both protects the county and ensures the applicant’s success. Commissioner Clark said we should be developing a process not simply based on the applicants at hand, although we could use their plan to help develop the process; the process of developing the application, review, and approval should be the focus.  The commission reviewed the Penobscot County TIF District application and discussed adopting it for Hancock County.  The commission agreed to consult with a local businessperson who formally worked for EMDC.  Commissioner Blasi questioned what services our EMDC dues cover, and why this is extra.  In developing the process, Commissioner Clark suggested focusing on an acceptable application and finding and utilizing an entity capable of assessing the business plan.  The next area to address would be defining the loan terms and process.  UT Supervisor Billings clarified that the business needs to be located in the UT, not necessarily the residence of the applicants.


Registrar of Deeds Curtis explained that she has a project involving scanning and verifying index information.  She requested approval to fill a PT position that is specific to this project.  She has $10,000 in surcharge and intends to use that initially.  The project requires two employees; the existing PT employee will also work on the project.

MOTION: Registrar of Deeds be permitted to seek applications for a part time project clerk (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Budget Information meeting and BAC recommendations:

Commissioner Blasi said “the Hancock County general fund budget for fiscal year 2020, which is the same as the calendar year, was presented by the County Commissioners to the public, by statute, at a public hearing on September 25.  It was reviewed by the 10 member Budget Advisory Committee by statute.  Our budget advisors have either supported our proposals or forwarded recommendations to revise expenditure amounts for particular accounts in particular departments.  Now, under the same Budget Advisory Committee statute, we will consider whether to override BAC recommendations and return particular accounts to our proposed amounts.  Since all the BAC recommendations before us today were approved by two-thirds, or 7 votes, we will need unanimous vote tallies on each recommendation”. 

Commissioner Blasi explained that he would ask for motions on each recommendation, and once the budget has been approved and signed it would be forwarded to the State Auditor’s office for review and processing.

Commissioner Clark suggested reducing the department 17 overall budget to the 2019 amount.

MOTION: override the budget advisors recommendation on account 45-005 University of Maine extension (Blasi/motion fails for lack of second

MOTION: override the BAC recommendation for Reparations Board and reduce that by $9,990 (Clark/ motion fails for lack of second

MOTION: accept BAC recommendation of $180,230 for Third Party donations for 2020 (Clark/Wombacher 2-1 Blasi opposed)

MOTION: override BAC recommendation for District Attorney (Blasi/fails for lack of second

MOTION: override BAC recommendation for RCC (Blasi/Wombacher, motion and second withdrawn

The calculation sheet shows an increase over the prior year’s budget of 5.99%.  There was some discussion about a transfer amount.  Commissioner Blasi said he was uncomfortable with the 5.99% increase.  Commissioner Clark said the BAC was fully aware of the increase when they made their recommendations.  The commission reviewed the last several years of budget increases/decreases- many of them were very low and some were negatives.  Commissioner Clark said that during this time projects were not getting done and employees were not being compensated fairly.  The average increase for the five years prior was 3.08%.   CA Adkins pointed out that many projects have been addressed and significant progress has been made in recent months, and said that before this year the county was nearly $1,000,000 under LD, accumulatively; LD should be the guiding principle in growth.

MOTION: approve the County expenditure budget for 2020 of $8,545,270 of which $6,361,436 be raised by taxation, to include $100,000 being transferred (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Blasi said the rationale provided by the administrator was convincing.  He said he would not sign the budget because of the County Administrator’s contract amount.  Commissioner Clark said not signing the budget because of one piece in it is an irresponsible position to take; they have gone through the entire budget as a board and come to a consensus on what the budget should be.

Commissioner Clark left the room.


MOTION: approve the October warrants as presented by the County Treasurer (Blasi/Wombacher 2-0, motion passed)

The Treasurer’s memo listed the following:

October GF, Airport, and Jail Payroll Warrants #19-39, #19-40, #19-41, #19-42, and #19-43 in the aggregate amount of $461,337.12;

October GF, Airport, and Jail Expense Warrants #19-72, #19-73, #19-74, #19-75,  #19-76, #19-77, and #19-78 in the aggregate amount of $701,620.73;  

October UT Payroll Warrants #20-13, #20-14, #20-15, #20-16, and #20-17 in the aggregate of $1,736.26;

October UT Expense Warrants #20-6 and #20-7 in the aggregate of $510,119.76

There was some discussion on over expended account lines.  Treasurer Boucher explained that individual lines are often over by small amounts; not the entire department budget.  Commissioner Blasi asked the Treasurer to consider the overdraft policy in the internal controls.

Commissioner Clark returned.

Treasurer Boucher reported that all of the taxes have been collected.  The Town of Sorrento submitted a check with a date of October 31; Treasurer Boucher said this was acceptable in order to avoid interest.

MOTION: approve expenditure of $26,474.95 for Meritain run out expenditures (Blasi/Wombacher 2-0-1 Clark abstains)

The commission took a vote on approving the 2020 Budget Calculation sheet (2-1, Blasi opposed)


The commission reviewed the draft Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) Contract.  JA Richardson said they had a call with the State regarding concerns with the contract and understood that all of the concerns would be addressed.  He asked for the commission to authorize the sheriff to sign the final contract.  JA Richardson explained that the MAT is required for the grant to fund the jail nursing.

MOTION: accept the MAT contract (Wombacher/Blasi; motion and second withdrawn

MOTION: sheriff be authorized to sign the MAT contract when one is made available to him (Clark/Wombacher

The commission agreed to attach to the record the email correspondence that includes JA Richardson’s answers to Commissioner Blasi’s questions about the contract. 

CES, Inc. completed a site visit on October 29 to review some floor settling and wall cracking.  They determined that the building is safe to occupy, the floor settling appeared to be a floor slope built during construction, and the wall cracking was caused by minor floor deflection; the cracks should be repaired and monitored.

MOTION: accept the $3,500 quote for CES for an investigation of the block cracking in the jail (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

The concensus of the board was to follow the recommendation of CES to repair the cracking and monitor it.  JA Richardson was directed to work out the funding mechanism and would consult with the commission as required.  Facilities Director Walls recommended we use CES through the entire monitoring process.

JA Richardson said he is asking for permission to seek a nurse once the MAT contract is signed.  The funding for the nurse is through the MAT.

MOTION: the jail be authorized to seek applications for a nurse under the MAT nursing contract (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Administratively remove Dona Closson-Wescott from payroll (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the voluntary demotion of Sgt. Pileski to corrections officer, going from Step 12-H-2 to Step 9-H-2 effective November 23, 2019 in accordance with union contract (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Correct the step of FT assistant cook Joanne Jodrey from Step 9-C to Step 6-C (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


Chief Deputy Kane reported that the sheriff would provide an update on Open Door at the next meeting.

Chief Deputy Kane presented a letter from Penobscot County thanking the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and Jail for providing support during a recent tragedy experienced by Penobscot County.  Chief Kane said this was an opportunity to help a neighboring county in a time of need, but also to be trusted to assist running a jail facility and credited JA Richardson and the jail staff.  Commissioner Clark said this shows that Penobscot County has confidence in Hancock County, to allow them to assist in the jail facility.  The entire commission recognized JA Richardson and Hancock County jail staff for supporting Penobscot County during this time.

MOTION: approve out of state travel for wreaths Across America (Clark/Wombacher 2-0-1 Blasi abstains, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he would abstain because since the last approval, two articles have appeared that cast an unfavorable light on Worcester Wreath.  Chief Deputy Kane said he would not debate the validity of the reports but said that he disagreed with the articles and wholeheartedly supports Worcester Wreath.

MOTION:  sign the patrol agreement between Hancock County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Tremont (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: authorize the sheriff to purchase from Spillman InSight Server Migration software from account E10-20-100 and recognize them as sole source as they are proprietary software in the Sheriff’s Department (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

The amount of the purchase is $5,040.

Chief Deputy Kane reported that a patrol vehicle is in need of significant repairs, estimating $5,000-$6,000.  At this point, this is simply informational; the cost of the repairs and the effect on the trade value would need consideration.  Commissioner Blasi asked about how the addition of a patrol officer would impact this.  Commissioner Clark recalled that Sheriff Kane told the BAC that if they approved funds for an additional officer he would find the funds for a cruiser somehow.  Chief Deputy Kane said that was correct, but he wanted the commission to be aware of this situation.

MOTION: Approval for out of state travel to a conference in Massachusetts for Chief Deputy Kane (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)


RCC Director Bob Conary reported that he recently attended a meeting with the County Firefighters Association meeting.  He participated in an Active Shooter/School Lockdown tabletop exercise in Bucksport.  Conary has been working with various entities planning for the RCC Renovation and the temporary move to the training room.  The console company will visit on November 20 to assess the facility and requirements for moving equipment.  Director Conary said at some point he will need to seek bids for a fourth console.  Conary submitted a list of upgrades and anticipated costs associated with the RCC Renovation project; the list totaled $60,000.  Additional anticipated costs included $68,000 for a new Avtec Radio Console and peripheral network equipment and $1,600 for a conference table and chairs.  There was some discussion on how to streamline the approval process for expenditure of funds for this project.  Director Conary presented a list of anticipated expenses involved in the RCC Expansion project totaling $60,000; included in this list are three items totaling $12,621.08 that Conary presented as a separate expenditure request.

MOTION: authorize movement of $45,000 from RCC capital reserve account to a newly created account in the RCC 07-20-300 Renovation Misc. costs (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Clark said the basis for his motion is that this takes an amount that can be spent without additional approval, knowing that it is restricted to the items on the submitted sheet.  This amount is the $60,000 less the transfer signed today.  Commissioner Blasi wanted to establish a series of expense accounts so that each time an expenditure was made it would be given a different 900 number, as in Dept. 6; he wanted to track costs for the project with as much detail as possible. 

MOTION: approve the expenditure of capital reserve account G 07-70-100 in the amount of $12,621.08 to replace the recording system, to replace dispatch monitors, and 4 UPS backup power supplies (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Break 11:45 a.m. -12:00 p.m.


US Board Geographic Names / Dutton Pond, Amherst / Name Change –

MOTION: approve the letter to the US Board on Geographic Names objecting the proposed name change of Dutton Pond (Clark/Wombacher 1-2, Clark, Wombacher opposed, motion failed)

Commissioner Clark wanted to take no action on this item, as the commission holds no statutory authority. He said it would be appropriate to take a position if this were in the unorganized territory.  Commissioner Blasi said the County Commissioners can express an opinion, as well as other agencies.  He said if a selectboard is asking for support in something that the board is eligible to support, he would place it on the agenda.  Commissioner Wombacher said he did not really have an opinion on whether the board should support the name change or not; he would tend to side with the selectboard but since he did not have a strong opinion on it in this instance he would lean towards taking no action.


Facilities Director Dennis Walls updated the commission on the projects that had been completed this year.  He said there is some accounting to finish up, including an additional $2,000 that will need to be transferred at some point.  Director Walls will have details prepared closer to the end of the year.  Walls said the EMA generator is a good back up in case our generator fails, although it will not power everything.  We will need to have a discussion about the jail generator soon, as it is 20 years old.

Commissioner Blasi asked if any bricks had fallen from the old jail since the one in January.  Director Walls said a brick was found in the spring; Walls notified the Historical Society and no action was taken.

RCC expansion project discussion- Earlier today Walls received the contract that outlines the terms of the Construction Manager at Risk agreement from Architect Sealander; he submitted it to the commission for review.  He said this is the document that the Penobscot Company will base their billing on.  Commissioner Clark said the maximum price may be unacceptable, and he did not see how we could proceed without it.  Sealander also sent a request for additional fees for the mechanical re-design from Armstrong Engineering; the first design was rejected so additional work was necessary for a second design.

MOTION: authorize an additional $4,675.00 to cover mechanical electrical plumbing design fees for the RCC expansion project (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

RCC Director Conary expressed concern about the timing of moving the dispatchers into the training room when the renovation work begins.  Commissioner Clark said he did not know how we could start before receiving the maximum figure; the project may not begin until mid-December.  Facilities Director Walls said he would contact Sealander and let him know we need a price range soon. 

Bull Hill/Mt. Waldo update-

Facilities Director Walls said there was a report of a power failure at Bull Hill but upon inspection everything was fine; the solar is running as expected.  Walls is waiting on parts to fully integrate the generator.  During the annual service visit at Waldo a bad control board was found in the generator; this was replaced under warranty. 

Snow removal- Director Walls has an extension with RF Jordan; they have agreed to operate under the same terms.  Previously the commission signed a contract with two extension years; this is one extension. 

MOTION: chairman be authorized to sign the extension on snow removal with RF Jordan for the 2019-2020 snow removal season (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

3rd floor gym and storage ideas- Walls said the bulk of the issue with noise is due the location of the equipment.  In this plan, the section over the courts would be storage, and the section over District Court storage is where the exercise equipment will be placed.  Perhaps a changing room or bathroom would be installed.  The discussion will be ongoing.

Old Jail liability discussion- Commissioner Blasi said it has been verified that the old jail holds adequate liability insurance coverage.  He said he did not want the County to be responsible for the worst case scenario: if a brick fell and struck someone.  Director Walls said Terri Cormier of the historical society extended an invitation to the commission to tour the inside of the jail to see the displays and artifacts.  Commissioner Blasi expressed concern about the risk to public safety that the old jail presents.  Commissioner Clark said he would not attempt to take the jail until it was evident the Historical Society was failing to maintain the building.  Commissioner Blasi asked if he felt that the Historical Society was doing that.  Commissioner Clark responded that his sense of failing to maintain the building is if a side of the building falls into the parking lot- not a single brick.  Commissioner Wombacher said there is not a lot that can be done at this point; if it continues to degrade we would have to seek a solution.  Commissioner Blasi said he would like the commission to receive reports when bricks fall.  Director Walls said the process to repair is very different than the process of restoring.  Commissioner Clark recalled that when the old jail was transferred to the Historical Society, the argument the Historical Society made was if the County gave them the deed to the building, they could file for grants to restore it. 

County Administrator:

Drug Free Workplace Policy- Deputy CA Knowlton reported on the feedback received from Department Heads.  The commission agreed to hold a workshop with Department Heads to develop the policy during the November 19 CSM. 

The commissioners will recognize the Spirit of America 2019 award recipients on November 19 at 8:30 a.m.

The commissioners discussed engaging Acadia Benefits in 2020 for consulting services.  Commissioner Blasi suggested looking for similar services locally.  Commissioner Clark said he would hate to start over given the relationship we have developed with them and the value of employee advocacy through Paula Green.

MOTION: contract with Acadia Benefits one more year in 2020 at a cost of $10,000 (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Life Insurance- the commission agreed to terminate the life insurance policy through Mutual of Omaha and discuss details of self-funding the employee death benefit at a subsequent meeting.

MOTION: continue the resolve of June 4, 2019 to terminate the Mutual of Omaha life insurance agreement (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

This vote simply cancels the life insurance policy with Mutual of Omaha.  Additional details will be discussed on November 19.

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator

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