Commission Chairman, Percy L. Brown Jr., called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, November 18, 2015 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth Maine with Commissioners Blasi and Joy in attendance. 

Commission Business: 


The following bids were opened for the Mt. Waldo RFP Repeater; Commissioners Blasi questioned the bid opening “even though the structural analysis failed.”  The intent of the RFP was to add equipment to the tower.

  • Brown’s Communications; Commissioner Blasi questioned if digital potential was researched.
  • Radio Communications Management Inc.

The bids included several different prices; therefore Commissioner Brown chose not to read the proposals aloud.  Bids were turned over the RCC Director Wellman for review and recommendation.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the cost of the warranty; there is no warranty. 

Health Insurance Discussion/Decision: Deputy Treasurer Atwater provided the commissioners with spreadsheets showing the cost budgeted for health care for 2016 along with 2015 budgeted amounts for health insurance.  Commissioner Brown stated that there is a question regarding $84,000 currently showing in the health account.  CA Conlogue read a statement saying that the funds are above and beyond what is needed, that former CFO Roy has stated that he built up a reserve in the account and that previously Meritain would balance the account and it would be reconciled on a monthly basis.  Due to a new change in the Meritain system, they will no longer be providing outstanding checks, if checks are not cashed within 180 days the checks will be reissued; if the checks are not cashed after an additional 180 days, the funds will be returned to the County.  Auditor Tyson has stated that she is okay with the Meritain change because there is still a paper trail that can be followed which connects the user, the physician and the cost of the service.  Meritain Admin fees and Acadia Benefit Fees are included in Meritain’s bulk transfer.  CA Conlogue suggested revisiting the issue after the November Bank Statement arrives in order to verify the findings. 

Commissioner Brown stated that until the audit is complete the funds could still end up as a payable and questioned if the funds should be moved to the health care account that was created a few months ago; this could be done with commissioner approval.  Commissioner Brown questioned the transferring of funds and associated journals.  Commissioner Blasi questioned if anyone remembered why the health account was established rather than just paying for health care out of the General Fund.  Commissioner Joy stated that he always thought health funds were kept in a lock box; the health account has its own checking account.  Under the present situation, the County makes a transfer from the General, Jail and Airport checking accounts and Meritain writes the checks to the vendors.  Commissioner Joy did not want to spend the $84,000 but he did not mind moving it. 

The Meritain run-out was questioned; CA Conlogue stated that the $88,000 figure supplied by Acadia Benefits looked to be a low figure to him.  The FY13 run-out was $80,000, Commissioner Joy stated that $100,000 would be a better estimate.  Commissioner Joy would add $12,000 to the MMEHT number which would make us $70,000 short in our present budget; he stated that we are under this year and that you cannot be under with MMEHT because theirs is a flat number.  Meritain can sometimes create a surplus. 

Commissioner Blasi stated that we are at risk (per Scott McKee) due to our employee demographic.  Commissioner Joy stated that we have individual and plan “caps” and as long as the County funds to the cap, excess insurance (Stop Loss) will pick up the difference.  Prescription drugs have gone up expediential within the Meritain plan.  The 2nd year would not have the run-out expense; as long as we are funded to the stop loss, Commissioner Joy was okay with the Meritain plan.  Commissioner Brown stated that in looking at the audit for the past year, we are making money on health care; he was not interested in changing the health care provider; if we change companies, they will take our experience ration and apply it to 2017. 

Personnel Coordinator DePrenger questioned if there were enough funds budgeted in the FY16 budget to meet the Stop Loss.  Commissioner Joy was uncertain about the “expected” and “maximum” costs presented by Acadia Benefits.  Commissioner Brown was in favor of staying with Meritain.  Commissioner Blasi questioned the drug component which is currently driving up costs. 

Commissioner Brown preferred to renew with Meritain; Commissioner Blasi preferred to move to MMEHT; Commissioner Joy stated that the one thing he liked about Meritain is that it provides the same level of health care, if we go to MMEHT the cost is never going to decrease.  With Meritain there is a possibility of a decrease in cost.  Commissioner Blasi stated that we have used MMEHT before and the commissioners moved to Meritain.  Commissioner Blasi stated that Mr. McKee was “concerned with the volatility and we have come to the volatility in the past.”  Commissioner Joy agreed but was concerned that the cost could increase with MMEHT.  Commissioner Brown liked the idea of building up funds in the lock box if savings occur. 

MOTION: for Hancock County to use MMEHT as a fully insured provider in 2016. (Blasi/failed for lack of 2nd

MOTION: to renew with Meritain Health. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Teamsters Business Agent (TBA) Joe Piccone questioned if this was county wide insurance and reminded the commissioners that the union contract states that the union will be consulted; he has not been consulted.  Commissioner Blasi stated that in his research it did not matter what was offered to other county employees.  TBA Piccone stated that the union contract states that the union has to be consulted and the plan has to be comparable to the MMEHT POS C Plan.  Commissioner Joy would like to know the Stop Loss number prior to contacting Meritain regarding the renewal. 

CA Conlogue requested approval of two checks, one from account 03-10-001 in the amount of $564.25 and one from account 03-30-105 in the amount of $128.50.  Both accounts are appear to be overdrawn due to the TRIO computer glitch when in actuality only one account is overdrawn.  CA Conlogue recommended releasing both checks on the basis of the commissioner’s edict on November 6, 2015 with a strong admonition that there will be no more over expenditures in the DA’s Office.  Commissioner Joy agreed. 

Commissioner Brown stated that the commissioners needed to do something with TRIO as they cannot have these kinds of issues with our accounting system; he would like to have an answer from TRIO sooner rather than later. Since it has been approximately a week since we learned about the issue, Commissioner Blasi questioned why it has not been resolved. 


JA Richardson contacted a representative from Securus via conference call to discuss proposed revenue in the Securus contract.  This is a prorated commission of $50,659 to be received in February/March 2016.  With the recent FCC Ruling the money will be up front, the remainder of the contract commissions would not be made.  68% commission will received prior to June/July in addition to up to $250 in satellite tracking funds per month.  A lobby kiosk will be included in the 68%.  Jails would be allowed to charge an administration fee on every call, a check would be cut each month.  The administration fee will begin in March.  Washington County has yet to sign the contract but a positive response has been received.  Somerset County is 50/50 regarding their decision.  Commissioner Joy questioned if the 68% is just until June/July.  The FCC has decided that every call will be at .22 cents per minute and jails can add administration fees on top of the calls.  Securus will work with Hancock County regarding their administration fee.  The goal of the FCC was to reduce or eliminate commissions.  This is a 3-year contract, at the end of the 3 years it can be cancelled or renewed.  There is no cost to the county for this program.  Commissioner Joy questioned the 90 day cap, as long as Somerset and Washington comes on board we will get the $50,659, if they don’t we will get the 68%.  Commissioner Blasi asked if there was a dissatisfaction clause to this agreement as Section 12 only addresses default.  The Securus Representative stated that Section 12 would cover the dissatisfaction issue with a 90 day guarantee.  Securus just received the contract for 9 facilities within the State of Maine.  Commissioner Blasi asked if this has been budgeted for; there is no cost implication with this service.  An incentive is being offered to Somerset County as well. (One-year free commission)  The $50,659 commission is a payment that has been fronted, it is not prorated to be paid/returned. 

MOTION: to sign the Securus Contract. (Joy/Blasi 2-0-1, motion passed, Brown recused himself) 


Facilities Director Walls stated that the storm drain on the riverbank near the sheriff’s garage is in need of emergency repair and presented a Proposal Contract from R.F. Jordan in the amount of $6,050 to make the repairs; JK Dugas has also been contacted.  The drain handles drainage for the roofs and the parking lot.  Commissioner Brown stated that due to the emergency we can use a single source but he would like to see an additional proposal.  Director Walls stated that funds would come from budgeted funds or the capital reserve account; it was recommended that funds be taken from the building budget account which would overdraft the account by $2,500.  Commissioner Brown preferred to see the funds come from the budget, Commissioner Joy preferred to have the funds come from the budget account and the remainder from the capital account.  Director Walls stated that his utilities accounts are out of his control and he cannot guarantee that they will not be overdrawn.  RF Jordan cannot do the work until after Thanksgiving.  It was agreed that the cost would be in the $6,000 range. 

MOTION: to authorize the Maintenance director to fix the riverbank outlet area. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) 

County Administrator:

CA Conlogue requested approval of the Appointed Exempt Policy. 

MOTION: to table the Appointed Exempt Policy until the December commissioners meeting. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) 

Commissioner Blasi left at 5:57 p.m. 

Informational Meeting 

Commissioner Chairman, Percy L. Brown Jr., called the Informational Meeting of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) proposed 2016 budget to order at 6:00 p.m. with Commissioner Joy in attendance.  BAC Member’s present included J. Cooper, H. Snow, J. Schatz, L. Snow and F. Ehrlenbach. 

CA Conlogue gave a brief review of the LD1 Tax Cap which is 1.58% for the FY16 budget and stated that the commissioners have been very frugal in prior years.   The jail has been added to the FY16 budget and the county will receive some revenues from the State for the jail but not what was initially promised.  The jail is approximately $121,000 in the negative for the FY15 budget.  The new law passed by the legislature allows an increase in the jail budget cap or to the LD 1 growth factor or 3%, whichever is less.  Proposed Revenues totaled $2,492,794, proposed expenditures totaled $8,188,517.  The amount to be raised by taxation (not including the overlay) was $5,695,724; this is a 6.71% increase over the FY15 budget. 

Application of Community Benefit Funds would decrease the budget down to 3%.  The LD1 Growth Factor of 1.58% was explained in further detail.  Commissioner Brown stated that the FY16 proposed budget is $454,450 over last year or 8.68%.  Commissioner Brown provided a brief overview of budget increases/decreases over the years stating that the commissioners have managed to keep the budget within reach for the property tax payer and that they have until December 15th to finalize the budget.  Commissioner Brown was not satisfied with the number but was unsure how to reduce it.  Jail legislation will not allow us to go over 1.58% Cap. 

Commissioner Brown stated that Community Benefit funds could be spent in the RCC for FY16 but he was unsure if that will happen.  Commissioner Joy stated that a 7% increase is unacceptable; the commissioners are working to reduce the budget through community benefit funds and cutting within the budget.  Commissioner Brown stated that one of the things that really hurt us this year was the jail and the State not providing needed funding; we are now running 8 weeks behind financially.  Hancock County currently has a suit against the State for the $121,000 and is short $130,000 for this year.  The Sheriff and Jail Administrator are working to close the gap but it is a difficult task.  Commissioner Brown stated that the legislature needs to fund the jail, they failed to do so last year and continue to do so this year. 

BAC Member James Schatz stated that all departments took a conservative approach but could not save the amount of money needed.  He stated that the burden has been created by the State and the funds would be used as a one-time gap.  Commissioner Brown stated that property tax makes a big difference, several people are losing their homes and funding through property tax is tough.  BAC Member Jo Cooper questioned the 8 week lag in funds.  Commissioner Brown clarified that the county is utilizing funds 8 weeks ahead, meaning we will run out of funds 8 weeks early.  Commissioner Joy stated that he is not sure if the State is timely in reimbursing the county for EMA and DTF funds.  Many counties throughout the state have the same problem with jail funding. 

An audience member questioned the budget process.  A final budget has to be signed by December 15th and any votes by the BAC have to have a unanimous vote by the county commissioners in order to overturn the BAC decision.  Community Benefit funds amount to $200,001 for this year, we are also bringing funds forward from 2014 to 2015 to cover the funding gap.  The commissioners will meet several times during the month of December to further discuss the budget. 

MOTION: to adjourn. (Joy/Brown 2-0, motion passed) 


Cynthia DePrenger
Personnel Coordinator

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