The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Clark at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday January 21, 2020 in the conference room of the County courthouse located in Ellsworth, ME with Commissioners Blasi and Wombacher in attendance.

Adjustments to / approval of agenda:

MOTION: add to Jail item c. approval to promote CO James Williams to temporary full time effective February 1, 2020 (Wombacher/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

Public Comment: none

Employee recognition:

The commission recognized RCC Dispatcher Nikki Dennison for 10 years of service to the County of Hancock.


Sealander / RCC Expansion update-

Penobscot Company provided a guaranteed maximum price (GMP) proposal with a total of $439,329.00; this includes Alternate 1 with a cost of $21,024.00.  A contingency of $20,000 is included.  Alternate 1- replacing the heating and ventilating unit- is in the capital plan as part of the overall courthouse renovation; the commission agreed this portion of the cost could be removed from the project cost.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the fee; Architect Sealander explained this is the contractor’s profit on the project; in this case it is about 5%.  Commissioner Clark asked what could be used to bring the cost down.  Sealander said everything that the contractor is doing with the subcontractors is a fixed price, unless the scope of the project changes.  The fee is a percentage, so if the line items are not drawn down, the fee will go down.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the $142,400 cost for the Plumbing / HVAC.  Sealander said this is a reflection of the current market and much of the price is mechanical.  Once the GMP is approved, the contract can be finalized.

MOTION: the Commissioners accept the amount of $439,329.00 as a Guaranteed Maximum Price with the Penobscot Company for the RCC Expansion project; $21,024.00 to come from maintenance account #3011 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

$350,000 has already been committed from Community Benefits.  When additional funding is required the source will be determined at that time.


Joanna Russell / Workforce Development discussion-

Russell reported that they have been working diligently to communicate with employers to help them understand the value of recovery versus simply looking at an applicant’s rap sheet.  Russell said job seekers do not know the content of the rap sheet and are not able to speak to it or explain what happened during the charges.  Commissioner Blasi asked about the role of the legislature; Russell said changes to the rap sheet would be approved by the legislature.  The goal is not to remove details about the events themselves but to show employers that sometimes the arrest charges are dropped. 

John Farley said this was a three year project; they are currently in the last year.  About 30 individuals were served in the first two years; this dropped in the last year to about 16 individuals.  Farley said the decline in the numbers represents the demise of Open Door Recovery Center as a referral source.  Commissioner Clark said this is funded through Community Benefit funds and cautioned that Community Benefits cannot be used for programs requiring perpetual funding.  They have submitted a proposal for a federal grant to the US Dept. of Labor for funding; if approved it would provide $6.5 million in funding. 

The consensus of the commission is to support the program for another 3 months in anticipation of approval for the grant.

MOTION: fund Joanna’s Workforce Recovery program until April 1, 2020 in the amount not to exceed $7,500 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

There are existing funds that had previously been allotted to Open Door and this program but were not drawn on that can be used for this purpose.

MOTION: Sign the agreement for medical services with Chelsea Howard, Nurse Practitioner in the amount of $3,300 per month with $500 for per diem replacement to be funded from the regular budget account # 40-018 (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Approval to promote CO James Williams to temporary full time effective February 1, 2020 (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Meeting Minutes:

MOTION: Amend the January 7, 2020 minutes by using the original draft language showing a voice vote with two votes in favor, one opposed to electing Commissioner Clark as Chair (Blasi/Wombacher 1-2, Clark and Wombacher opposed, motion fails)

Commissioner Clark said the issue is that one cannot vote “no” to the election of a candidate.  He said the minutes as written attempt to reflect what occurred but do not condone the impropriety of calling for and allowing a “nay” vote for an election; it is improper and a violation of Robert’s Rules.  Commissioner Blasi said that those rules were not in effect for this election.  Commissioner Clark said the record reflects that Commissioner Blasi was in opposition but does not reflect that the board condoned an improper action, which is voting “nay” on an election.

MOTION: enter into the record the January 9, 2020 Ellsworth American article regarding the election of the Chairman (Blasi/Wombacher 2-1 Clark opposed, motion passed)

MOTION: Approve the minutes of the January 7, 2020 Commissioners’ Regular Meeting as presented in the packet (Wombacher/Clark 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Discussion on proposed changes to the Hancock County Meeting and Agenda Policy-

MOTION: officially adopt “the meeting decorum shall conform to the Roberts Rules of Order in as much as practical while always giving the board the ability to modify the rules to accommodate small meeting venues.”  (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: adopt the portion of meeting decorum that says, “Commissioners with a personal conflict of interest should abstain from voting on a motion and all abstentions should be explained by the Commissioner. A member may “abstain” from voting on a motion provided that member states on the record a personal conflict of interest.  Absent that conflict, the record shall reflect a Did Not Vote for any members not voting on a motion.” (Clark/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: adopt “In any election, members may only vote in favor of a candidate and NO or Against votes shall not be entertained.  If a member wished to vote against a candidate, they must vote for another person.” (Clark/Wombacher 2-0, motion passed, Blasi did not vote)

During discussion, Commissioner Clark referenced a document containing guidance for Robert’s Rules of Order, which stated “It’s never in order to vote Yes or No (or For or Against) a candidate when electing persons to office.  The only way you can vote against a candidate is to vote for another person”.

MOTION: Amend the meeting policy to add “shall reflect more of what was done at a meeting and less of what was said” (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he was opposing the motion because he is satisfied with the policy language as it is. 

MOTION: omit the line “Commissioners with a personal conflict of interest should abstain from voting on a motion and all abstentions should be explained by the commissioner.”  (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

This line of the policy was added to a separate section in an earlier motion.

MOTION: Remove “County Commissioners” and insert “Chair” under whose general guidance the County Administrator shall see to the production of the final draft minutes (Clark/Wombacher 2-1, Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Blasi said he was opposed; the original draft has worked since 2017 and this action reduces the authority of all three Commissioners.

MOTION: insert in the second sentence the words “for consideration”  (Clark/Wombacher 2-1 Blasi opposed, motion passed)

Commissioner Blasi said he did not agree with the prior motion, so is not agreeing with this.

MOTION: adopt the sentence “When the chair cannot agree to suggested corrections to the draft minutes, the Chair, at his discretion, may post two versions of the draft and the full board will decide which draft shall be incorporated into the approved minutes.”  (Clark/Wombacher 2-1 Blasi opposed)

Commissioner Blasi opposed this policy language because of the word “Chair”.  Commissioner Clark offered to amend the motion to say, “when the chair cannot agree to suggested corrections to the draft minutes, the administrator’s office may post two versions of the draft and the full board will decide”.  Commissioner Blasi wanted to see this language:  When the County Administrator’s office cannot agree or is requested to have more than one version, they will add it to the meeting books.  Commissioner Clark said the previous motion has already granted the Chair the ability to give guidance about the minutes to the Administrator’s office.

Commissioner Clark asked if there were any other suggested changes to the Meeting and Agenda Policy.  Commissioner Blasi referenced the section of the policy regarding Public comment; when a member of the public has not submitted written comments, they have still been allowed to speak. 

MOTION: add to section A. (11.) “Public comment will occur soon after the meeting commences” (Clark/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: the last sentence of Agenda Procedures Section 11 is stricken (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Break 10:37 a.m. -10:45 a.m.


Desktop upgrade

MOTION: approve the formed laminate in woodgrain not to exceed $1,468.47 (Wombacher/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Discussion on Courthouse closing

Commissioner Clark said the Commission wished to develop an understanding with the courts about courthouse closures.  Court Clerk Terry Harding explained the process used for determining if the courts will close.  Commissioner Clark clarified that closing non-essential county offices and closing courts were different.  Facilities Director Walls said in the event the county offices are closed he would still be sure sidewalks and entryways are attended to.  A communication list will be developed; Harding thanked the commission for their time and agreed this was a good solution.

CBA Grant application workshop

The commission discussed the possibility of reducing the amount of organizations funded through Dept. 17 and developing a CBA grant process.  Leaving University of Maine Cooperative Extension and Hancock County Volunteer Firefighters Assoc. would remove only $65,730 from the budget; adding Soil and Water to that, only $40,000 would be removed from the budget.  The commission questioned the wisdom of spending so much time developing a grant process that would remove such a small amount.   They reviewed the grant criteria that had been used in the past- Economic Development, Tourism, Community Development, and Help Disadvantaged- and establishing a certain percentage for each category.  The commission agreed this was a basis for further discussion and agreed to revisit the issue.

CA Adkins reported that he met with A Climate to Thrive regarding the grant that the County agreed to be the financial sponsor of.  CA Adkins reported that most counties are not spending the money on an OPEB (other postemployment benefits) audit.  The commission agreed not to have the audit done and that the same process for OPEB that was used in the prior year should continue for this year.

MOTION: to adjourn 12:18 p.m. (Blasi/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton,

Deputy County Administrator

Article from January 9, 2020 Ellsworth American

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