COMMISSIONER AGENDAS & MINUTES
COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING
Commission Chairman, Percy L. Brown Jr., called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:15 a.m. on Friday, July 17, 2015 in the conference room at the county courthouse located in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Joy and Blasi in attendance.
Adjustments to the Agenda:
MOTION: to move the jail update to the top of the agenda. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Regarding the jail update; Sheriff Kane explained Maine Sheriff’s Association (MSA) has no information regarding the fate of LD 186 other than it is still with the Governor. Commissioner Joy disagreed due to receiving information from MCCA stating that it has been signed into Law. It was confirmed that the State disbursement share will be $12.2 million but even with that the County’s will not be able to charge Board. Sheriff Kane stated that although the money will follow the inmates, at this time there does not appear to be a decision through current legislation of the dollar amount that will follow the inmate; the decision may have to be made by the Supreme Court because of the Governor not signing the legislation into law. There will be a cost per day, per inmate, depending on where the inmate is housed, that dollar figure will be charged to the county where the inmate was originally incarcerated but the State will not pay more than $25 per day.
Sheriff Kane stated that there will be no State money released therefore Hancock County will not receive the July payment. Commissioner Joy stated that as long as the State gives the County’s the $12.2 million there is no boarding rate and, according to the MCCA Director, it has been pocket vetoed. Commissioner Joy stated that it is now Public Law 339, Chapter 335 therefore they need to plan on $12.2 million dollars statewide. Sheriff Kane stated that, to his knowledge, the State had not decided that it (LD 186) would be passed into Public Law which explains the difference between a monthly payment and the $12.2 million. With this being emergency legislation, the State may release the funds early next week; although an amount has not been determined based on average daily population each day on last year’s figures. Sheriff Kane stated that we (sheriffs) are not allowed to charge, but it does not say that sheriffs cannot negotiate side deals with other counties to save money; a legal opinion is being sought. The jails are operating on a fixed budget that was approved a year ago which does not include boarding fees; the question is do they have enough money to pay board fees.
Commissioner Brown questioned Accounts Payable for FY15 in the amount of $85,000.87; this is the net shortfall; it is a cash flow issue. Commissioner Joy stated that under the old law the State was to pay for expenses over our $1.6 million Cap; employee medical would now come under the county and any surplus the county may have will now be eaten up by the jail; it may be $11,000 split out of the jail budget and put into the county medical budget. Commissioner Blasi stated that we have heard from Auditor Tyson and she will search for this in next month’s jail audit. The belief was that the issue was contained in the health care line. Commissioner Blasi mentioned the proposed county wide capital plan, Sheriff Kane was not aware of it. The jail panel has not been completely installed which will delay payment a little longer.
CA Conlogue stated that the sheriff will be requesting the August 1/12th payment in July in order for the jail to get by. Commissioner Blasi questioned if there is a projection of when this will become self-defeating; there is no timeline for this. Commissioner Joy stated that at some point the 70/30 formula will be invoked; based on initial numbers Sheriff Kane stated that Hancock County may be able to make the initial number. The interpretation of the 70/30 is based on State funding. The funds are disbursed from the Board of Corrections (BOC) but will be now released to the Department of Corrections (DOC) who will fund two positions out of the money to oversee the disbursement of funds. Jonathan LaBonte` may/may not be one of the people. Commissioner Brown stated that if this has not become law we are still operating under the old law; we need to be very careful to make sure it is now Public Law. Commissioner Blasi mentioned a Notice of Intent to File a Claim for the $85,000, this is what CA Conlogue has been working on; Commissioner Brown stated that he would not jump until we find out what will be lost. The Commissioners will be updated again on July 24th.
County Administrator (CA) Conlogue presented four organizational charts for consideration and stated that they are concepts that can be amended for final consideration at a later date. The Treasurer’s role was enhanced in all of the proposed Options and has authority over the Deputy Treasurer. Option 3 showed the commissioners oversight of the county administrator; an Office of Administration and Finance was proposed, the CA would be the day-to-day administrator of that office and the finance assistant/clerk and personnel coordinator would be under the CA’s direct supervision. The treasurer would supervise the deputy treasurer but the CA would have supervisory duties over the non-treasurer duties. Commissioner Brown stated that he liked the proposal because it sets the treasurer position off by itself and that you cannot designate hours; the proposal follows statutes and the treasurer oversees the deputy treasurer. Commissioner Brown stated that the day-to-day operations of the whole county should come through the commissioners and that the Office of Administration and Finance is important to the administrator; it does not take anything away from the treasurer who is bound by statutory duties. In meeting with the treasurer the administrator referred to the State Auditors report and encouraged her to follow the statutes in her duties. The treasurer would report to the commissioners on things that are statutory in nature and administrative financial duties would more than likely be under the CA’s purview. The Deputy Treasurer would be elevated and the Finance/Clerk would be downgraded on the Organizational Chart. It was made clear that CA Conlogue was not a replacement for the CFO, he would provide administrative oversight.
Commissioner Joy stated that all of the proposed Options put the treasurer under the CA; the treasurer should not be under the CA; his final preference was no organizational chart. Commissioner Joy preferred to bring the proposal(s) back next Friday to give him time to study the Options; he stated that the treasurer should come under the commissioners in terms of their statutory obligations. The line under the CA would cover administrative duties as opposed to statutory duties; but his preference would be no chart. Commissioner Blasi agreed and stated that if we are creating one, we should create one for all departments; CA Conlogue agreed and stated that there needs to be another chart for the entire organization. CA Conlogue stated that the goal was to bring Administration and Finance under one structure; you are not creating another finance office; you are bringing it under a single wing.
MOTION: to remove the CFO position. (Joy/Blasi, MOTION and second withdrawn) Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated that he believed that it is the next step in today’s agenda. Commissioner Brown stated that it could be added to the agenda after the executive session. Commissioner Joy acknowledged that he did not realize this; Commissioner Blasi did not either.
The Organizational Chart discussion will resume at the August CRM.
MOTION: to enter into Executive Session under MRSA 405 6(E) to consult with counsel. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Chairman Brown called the meeting back into executive session at 9:28 a.m. The following Adjustments to the Agenda were made.
MOTION: to formally eliminate the position of Chief Financial Officer for the County of Hancock. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to add the consideration of a Separation Agreement to the agenda. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed).
MOTION: to eliminate the position of Chief Financial Officer. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to accept the terms of the Separation Agreement between Hancock County and the former Chief Financial Officer. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed. Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that the funds to cover the terms are already in the budget.
Commissioner Brown read the following statement: Hancock County and its Chief Financial Officer Phil Roy, have agreed to end Mr. Roy’s affiliation with the County. This is the result of restructuring the Finance Office of the County as well as the recent hire of a County Administrator. When hired the Commissioners instructed CA Gene Conlogue to review all departments and personnel to make county government more efficient and less costly. As the CA takes on a larger role the CFO position is being eliminated. Mr. Roy has worked for the County for the past 6 years and the Commissioners and staff wish him well in his future endeavors.
Two copies of the Separation Agreement was signed.
9:33 a.m.: Break
9:38 a.m.: Back in session
CA Conlogue continued his presentation regarding Sick Leave Policy updates; previously recommended changes were made to reflect the commissioner’s suggestions. Upon further review, CA Conlogue was asked to return to another meeting with additional proposed changes.
CA Conlogue continued his presentation regarding Appointed/Exempt Policy updates, a Vacation & Sick Time Comparison was provided for commissioner review. CA Conlogue suggested eliminating the proposed Alternative Language in order to further progression of the policy. Commissioners Brown and Blasi were in agreement with the proposed changes. The proposal will be brought back to the August CRM.
Commissioner Joy stated that he, CA Conlogue, UT Supervisor Billings and Eric Stumpfel Esq. met with the Tom Walker of Maine Revenue Services to discuss the value of the wind mills. Maine Revenue Services has applied an economic obsolescence factor on the Bull Hill Wind Farm. In addition to a questionable depreciation schedule contained in the Bull Hill TIF document by First Wind, this results in a potential loss of approximately $2.7 million over the life of the TIF to the county. Attorney Stumpfel will prepare a memorandum to summarize that meeting and look at other issues related to the TIF.
Regarding the composition of written minutes; clear, curt & concise vs. verbatim, Commissioner Joy stated that traditionally the audio recording has been available should people have questions about what was said in meetings. Commissioner Blasi likes a lot of discussion involved, Commissioners Joy and Brown do not. Commissioner Brown stated that the statutes point out quite clearly what would be included in minutes; they talk about votes and motions. Commissioner Blasi supported the June minutes but he was pleased with the Clear Curt and Concise structure. Commissioner Joy stated that when a commissioner requests more in-depth minutes it takes too much of the person’s time; he was not in favor of full verbatim minutes. Commissioner Joy stated that the commissioners should agree that the minutes should be clear curt concise or verbatim. Commissioner Brown agreed with Commissioner Joy regarding providing audio recordings upon request. Commissioner Blasi stated that “not all computers can play back our audio file recordings.” Commissioner Joy stated that they would have access to them. Ellsworth American Reporter, Jennifer Osborn stated that she did not have one (a way to play audio) on her computer at the American.
MOTION: that we make the minutes clear, curt and concise. (Joy/Brown 2-1 motion passed, Blasi opposed)
MOTION: to adjourn. (Blasi/Brown 3-0, motion passed)