COMMISSIONER AGENDAS & MINUTES
COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING
Commission Chairman, Percy L. Brown Jr., called the meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners to order at 8:29 am on Friday, December 11, 2015 in the conference room of the county courthouse located in Ellsworth, Maine with Commissioners Joy and Blasi in attendance.
Unorganized Territory Budget:
TIF funds, revenues and offsetting expenses are shown in the UT budget. $284,464 in Bull Hill revenues was questioned as it was thought that the total amount of revenues received should be reflected in the budget. $299,500 was received “this year” for Bull Hill revenues. UT Supervisor Millard Billings stated that $8,747 from account 60-75-500 Maintenance Contract (for Bull Hill radio maintenance) should be subtracted from account 60-75-400 Transfer to County UT Reserve to equal $66,792. Supervisor Billings stated that $284,464 would be the projected revenue amount for FY16/17. Snow removal increased due to contract requests.
MOTION: to approve revenues for the FY16/17 UT Budget in the amount of $566,281. (Joy/Blasi, 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi asked “if the depreciation is not this number what does it do for the UT State Auditor, how does she react to that?” Her reaction is/was unknown. It was explained that this is the calculated amount based on projected depreciation as determined according to Maine Revenue Service and how much they assess the towers. Commissioner Joy encouraged Supervisor Billings to send a letter to Maine Revenue Services stating that Bull Hill was a comparable sale for the seller. Sun Edison is going to sell the Bingham and Oakfield Wind Farms, thus creating more comparable sale information.
MOTION: to approve expenditures for the FY16/17 UT Budget in the amount of $566,281. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
Workers Compensation increased approximately 45% and appeared that Workers Compensation was not budgeted correctly in prior years. Commissioner Joy suggested contacting Workers Compensation to inquire about specific classification of employees.
Manager Madeira suggested increasing account E-40-15-100 Telephone to $3,000. Commissioner Brown suggested identifying the departments that are causing Workers Compensation increases and working with them to fix the problems.
Manager Madeira stated that the Professional Services may be under budgeted for FY16.
A discussion followed regarding Contingency Transfers in order to balance the budget. CA Conlogue explained that a $48,000 deficit would occur should the transfer method not be utilized. Commissioner Joy stated that, in this case, either expenditures would need to be decreased or revenues would need to be increased. Contingency funds are finite capital funds. Commissioner Brown preferred to know actual revenue amounts rather than adding Contingency Funds. Commissioner Joy suggested tabling the Airport budget until the January meeting. Commissioner Brown preferred to approve the budget with the Contingency Transfer removed as they are not trying to balance the books, they are trying to establish a budget. CA Conlogue stated that the proposed transfer is not dissimilar to what the commissioners are doing in the General Budget with proposed transfers; if we are running surpluses over the past few years, they could go back and adjust the budget to those figures enough to eliminate the request for transfer from Contingency and downsize the budget to pick up the $48,000 thus cutting expenses by that amount. The auditor normally makes budget adjustments; Commissioner Joy stated that the County budget has to balance, but the airport is a separate enterprise fund and does not necessarily have to balance. The airport has not presented a balanced budget in several years. Manager Madeira stated that he could not afford to lose $48,000; the airport is working on a flat budget and is very tight. Utility accounts have not yet been fully determined due to the new building and air carriers can affect the numbers. The only line Manager Madeira is not comfortable is the Professional Services account.
MOTION: to approve FY16 airport revenues in the amount of $643,485. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that last year expenditures were $38,790 over revenue and the department is still in the black, the audit had no complaint.
MOTION: to approve FY16 airport expenditures in the amount of $692,209. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi was in favor of the Workers Compensation and Telephone increase.
The jail budget is based on 12 months, beginning January 1, 2016. The LD1 Tax Cap is 1.58% which is reflected under account 0501 County Tax Revenue in the amount of $1,696,524. Commissioner Joy questioned the 1.58% CAP and was not sure if the CAP should be ignored and questioned if the CAP is correct. CA Conlogue stated that the 1.58% CAP is based on the County Growth Factor which he worked on with UT Supervisor Billings who is a Certified Maine Assessor and stated that the 1.58% CAP is the correct figure and added that the answer was very simple “you are going to cover the $58,842 deficit in taxes.” Commissioner Joy stated that there is a $110,000 shortfall to be made up someplace. The shortage is the CAP difference and the amount the State did not contribute. Commissioner Brown stated that $139,178 and 16,596.75 was transferred yesterday in order to make the Jail December payroll. JA Richardson stated that they are seeking grants and doing everything they can to keep the jail going and that the numbers bother him just as much as they bother the commissioners. Commissioner Brown suggested approving the budget and added that by April there will be a question of what to do, it’s an $110,000 question. Waldo County is now taking their prisoners to Two Bridges Jail. The jail has been an unknown in this budget all along and remains an unknown; we will not know if we break even in the FY15 budget until mid-January; he suggested approving what has been presented and figure out where they are going to get the rest. Federal Board is up and jail employees are calling weekly in order to make revenue to keep the jail going. Commissioner Blasi agreed with Commissioner Brown to approve as presented. Commissioners Blasi asked the Jail Administrator the following: We will never again see these funds, true or false, Prisoner Board, Community Corrections CCIF Programs, and Overtime Revenue. JA Richardson stated that in 2015 $500 was budgeted in Overtime Revenue because we had an outside provider in the jail that covered our overtime, it was agreed that the jail is not going to take any State Boarders unless the fees go up, so the answer is that we will not see those unless the fees come up. The total amount of the negative lines was approximately $184,500.
MOTION: to approve FY16 jail revenues in the amount of $2,276,185. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Joy stated that the $58,000 is from the $2,276,185 subtracted from the $2,335,137.
MOTION: to approve Jail expenditures in the amount of $2,374,276. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: the difference reflected is the change in the CAP and Workers Compensation number.
Updated expense and revenue sheets were distributed; Commissioner Joy noted that the document is from today with three weeks left in the year; he went through each department noting their projected overages or deficits. Commissioner Joy stated that $100,000 from the Building Reserve account E30-20-300 has not been moved to the Capital Building Reserve account. Commissioner Brown stated that FY15 budgeted reserve funds were not moved to the Capital Reserve accounts. Commissioner Joy estimated a positive balance in the General Fund for FY15. The FY14 or FY15 Overlay has not been used. Commissioner Blasi asked if he would settle for $129,842 as shown on final totals. Commissioner Brown stated that as there are three weeks left in the year, they may find that there may be more expenses than in July. Commissioner Brown calculated a deficit of approximately 4%. Commissioner Joy stated that we should be approximately $100,000 to the good plus there is approximately $100,000 in the FY15 Overlay. He questioned a jail attorney bill stating that we have a Professional Services account for this and asked why $46,000 in capital funds was used to pay that bill, if you subtract that from $121,000 and we should end up with a number of approximately $70,000. The jail may be approximately $7,000 “in the hole” at the end of the year. Commissioner Blasi stated $129,842 and the uncollected balance in revenues is over by 19%, this could be used for the end of the year. Commissioner Joy clarified that he did not think that “we are in a hole,” Commissioner Blasi agreed. Commissioner Brown suggested leaving the Capital money alone for FY16 because it may have to balance the FY15 budget and the deficit created by the jail. If it is not used in FY15, it be Undesignated Funds which could be used in FY16. We also received $200,000 in October of Community Benefit money which could be used to reduce the budget. Commissioner Brown and CA Conlogue have worked the increase down to 1.3%. Commissioner Joy reiterated that for FY15, he did not believe the County Budget would be “in the hole.” Commissioner Brown stated that the jail is already in the hole but he thought that we would have enough to do the FY16 budget and keep it within the CAP, we will not know until “the last bell is tolled” but we may have enough; Commissioner Blasi stated that it would be a small amount. The Contingency can also be utilized.
Commissioners Joy questioned what was done with the FY14 Overlay and noted that there was a $24,000 surplus. Upon asking the auditor Kathy Tyson if the $24,000 included the $100,000 Overlay Deputy Treasurer Atwater stated that she asked the auditor if the revenue brought forward for town taxes should include the Overlay, her response was that you cannot use those funds to the next year’s budget, she stated that currently she does not know where that money sits. Commissioner Joy questioned what happened to FY14 Overlay, Commissioner Brown stated that all but $24,000 was spent. Commissioner Joy stated that he thought the surplus that we had was of our budget, which was $24,000 which does not include the revenue of the Overlay because it is undesignated, it’s still in taxation, and it’s still collected. Commissioner Brown stated that if you don’t use it you cannot keep it in a lock box, in other words, if you don’t use that money, it can’t just go to the next year. Commissioner Brown explained that in FY14 everything was used except $24,000 that included the Overlay. Commissioner Joy stated that you have bills, you have revenues and you have the Overlay, the Overlay is not in the budget to be spent. Commissioner Brown questioned if there was an Overlay in the 2014 budget? The answer was no, it was in the taxes. Commissioner Blasi stated that we should account for the 2% Overlay. Commissioner Joy stated that there was $24,000 plus the amount of the Overlay. CA Conlogue suggested speaking to the Auditor regarding tracking the 2014 Overlay. Commissioner Blasi agreed.
Commissioner Joy stated that he now feels confident that we are breaking even for the FY15 budget. Revenues and Community Benefits need to be looked at. Commissioner Blasi questioned why we are increasing county taxes at all, we have the funds to flat line the 2016 for revenues; we have it in Community Benefits. He did not see increasing taxes when we have that money sitting there. Commissioner Brown asked Commissioner Blasi if he wanted to use it as Contingency for the FY15 budget. Commissioner Blasi suggested using all but the $90,000 and then once the number is decided apply the rest. Commissioner Brown was sure that there would be a deficit in the jail that will need funds. Commissioner Joy questioned that in following the “strict letter of the law,” are we not breaking the law to pay that? It would not be taxation because it would be from the Community Benefit Fund, so we would not be breaking the law. Commissioner Blasi suggested deferring approval until the number is known; in 1991 a law was passed that applied to Hancock County that stated that if the budget is not passed you could utilize the current budget less 20%. This creates a problem with submitting tax bills to communities. Commissioner Joy stated that he did not believe the Treasurer’s Office would create a $200,000 error and that the financials will be quite accurate by the 2nd warrant in January and wanted to make sure, in his own head that we are not in a deficit in FY15. Commissioner Brown stated that we have enough money in our Capital account to get us through 2015. It was agreed that the commissioners should concentrate on the FY16 budget.
Break: 10:29 a.m. Back in session: 10:41 a.m.
MOTION: to approve the hire of Joseph Titka of Ellsworth and Stephen Gilbert of Bar Harbor as part time, on call, as needed Airport Maintenance Workers at the rate of $12 per hour, effective December 12, 2015. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: this is on-call, as needed only, there is no guarantee of hours. Currently the airport has one person. These employees will not exceed 29 hours per week and there are no benefits and will be safety trained as soon as possible.
Manager Madeira requested to spend $6,000 from reserve account G2-3010-40 for ineligible crack sealing. Caruso Drive and some parking areas were ineligible. The Local Share on this project is now $23,295.
MOTION: to approve a request to spend $6,000 out of Reserve Account G2-3010-40 to cover part of Axtell’s Requisition #2 for ineligible crack sealing. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to approve the request to overspend the Airport Professional Services account E40-30-200. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi questioned why Manager Madeira was choosing to spend out of account E40-30-200 rather than 3011-06. Manager Madeira could not answer his question at this time, both accounts referenced would be overspent anyway.
County Budget – continued:
Commissioner Brown stated that the commissioners have a memo requesting an additional $2,000 in overtime revenue for the DTF. The Sheriff and DA have requested a $3,000 swap from their accounts.
CA Conlogue stated that he has a way to reconcile the FY16 budget. The BAC suggested a budget of $5,695,724, added cost to include Workers Comp and the change in the Jail CAP in the amount to an increase of $109,586. CA Conlogue suggested offsets from capital reserves totaling $400,000:
$200,000 from community Benefit Funds; $100,000 from Contingency Account; $50,000 from the Professional Services Account; $50,000 from the Payroll Benefits Capital Account.
CA Conlogue suggested a possible Overlay at 2% in the amount of $109,106 thus creating a 3.3% increase or a 1% Overlay in the amount of $54,053 creating a 2.3% increase.
This suggestion uses tax money to bail out the jail. Commissioner Blasi stated that more Community Benefit funds could be used; this would make him more comfortable as it is real money, he did not have complete confidence in reserve account funds as they may not be available when he wants to use them. CA Conlogue was confident that the funds were there. Commissioner Blasi stated that he did not want to raise taxes this year when the funds are available. Commissioner Brown stated that we have been fortunate in keeping our increases down for the last few years; he did not think it prudent to keep a zero increase without offering new services. Next year we are looking at expanding emergency communications, these things would have to be put on hold with a zero increased budget. Commissioner Brown stated that the towns did something like this with Revenue Sharing funds and questioned what would be done in 30 years when the funds run out. Commissioner Blasi questioned paying for towers and public safety costs out of UT TIF funds as these numbers are currently unknown. Commissioner Brown stated that most island owners will not allow towers on their islands. CA Conlogue stated that some TIF funds may be used for Mt. Waldo but not all; you can only use TIF funds to lease, not purchase according to Commissioner Brown. Commissioner Blasi stated that he was willing to take a chance with Community Benefit funds for the taxpayers now. CA Conlogue suggested utilizing a 1% Overlay which would increase taxes by 2.3%. Commissioner Joy questioned the capital accounts that are currently showing in the proposed budget and suggested utilizing more of those funds. He suggested removing the 70 accounts from the budgets but leaving in the capital revenues. Commissioner Brown questioned what happened to the funds in the 70 accounts last year. The funds were not transferred to the capital accounts and were used within the budgets; they lapsed into the General Fund surplus. A lengthy discussion followed regarding the designation of these funds during which Commissioner Blasi questioned why the 70 accounts had been removed by the auditor. Commissioner Brown stated that we need to identify what they were and how much they were for.
Commissioner Brown stated that a consensus would be needed in order to implement Commissioner Joy’s suggested changes, he would also need to know what the 2015 "70 accounts" were for before he could make a decision. Commissioner Brown stated that he thought they could do what was needed with CA Conlogue’s suggestion; a lot of money has been saved by making changes but a slight budget increase is needed. Commissioner Joy stated that you could not double tax, you need to look at the spending side as well. Commissioner Brown was looking for a buffer for the FY15 budget. Commissioner Joy stated that the Community Benefit and TIF Funds will double in 2017, a tower project could be implemented then. Commissioner Brown stated that Community Benefit Funds should not be used to bring down taxation when other public safety issues are out there.
Commissioner Joy stated that the CAP was 1.58%, or $82,700. If you take the FY15 budget of $5,232,977 and multiply it by 1.58%, it ads $82,700 which comes out to $5,315,658 to be raised by taxation. That leaves a deficit of $489,652. Commissioner Joy questioned if the LD1 Tax Cap is based on taxation (to include the Overlay) or the actual budget. A discussion followed regarding this question. Based on the law, the county commissioners can raise an Overlay of up to 2%, this becomes part of the tax commitment that is billed out to the towns. Commissioner Joy stated that according to his calculations, we are still $89,652 over the CAP while adding $400,000 to offset the expense. The acceptable amount to put out to taxation should be $5,315,658. Commissioner Joy was not confident that they would have enough surplus to offset $89,652. There are funds in the health account that will come close to covering that difference. CA Conlogue stated that he is using the budget amount to include the Overlay as the LD1 CAP amount; this would still put us $77,000 over the CAP. Commissioner Brown stated that prior to signing the budget he needed to know what he was basing the CAP on (the budget or the budget with the Overlay).
The second warrant of January would give a better idea of what is left of the FY15 budget. Undesignated Funds from FY14 was $24,000+, there is an additional $84,000 in the health account also. Postponing approval of the budget was suggested in order to have questions answered. Commissioner Joy stated that it looked like we are trying to find $467,652. If there are funds left over from FY15, they may be committed toward the FY16 budget. Commissioner Brown stated that the commissioners could agree to replace the funds used from the Capital accounts if Undesignated Surplus is available.
What is the LD1 Tax Cap of 1.58% based on?
What happened to the FY14 Overlay, is it in a designated account?
Commissioner Brown asked if the commissioners wanted an Overlay; Commissioner Blasi did not. A TAN could also be utilized.
Commissioner Blasi asked for an explanation of the difference between the BAC increase and the workshop proposal. The difference came from the Workers Comp adjustment and the Jail adjustment. The Workers Comp numbers were not available at the time the BAC was meeting.
Chief Deputy Patrick Kane stated that in previous years the DA was billed for patrol deputy court time, the DA has agreed to transfer $3,000 to the Sheriff’s budget to pay for court overtime. Commissioner Brown stated that it was intended to pay for straight time, not overtime. CD Kane stated that it pays for whatever the cost is. This is moving money within the budget, Commissioner Brown stated that they are not allowed to transfer funds from one budget to another. Commissioner Joy suggested sending the DA a bill for the cost.
MOTION: to authorize the SO to bill the DA a lump sum for overtime for officers showing up for court. (Joy/Brown 3-0, motion passed)
$2,000 was authorized by Maine Drug Enforcement for MDEA overtime. Commissioner Joy suggested allowing them to exceed the overtime (in the expenditure account) amount due to the small amount of money.
MOTION: to accept $2,000 for DTF Overtime revenue. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Brown suggested a MOU between the Sheriff and DA regarding the previous motion involving the MDEA.
12:15 p.m.: Break for lunch 12:45 p.m.: Back in session
It was agreed that the Commissioners would finish the budget on January 22nd at 8:30 a.m. The CRM will be held on January 12th at 9:00 a.m.
County Administrator (CA) Conlogue requested approval of Appointed/Exempt Employee Policy stating that most of the changes are already in existing policy. Commissioner Joy questioned if number 4 through the end of the page is already current policy; it is. The proposal moves the policy into the Personnel Policy. Commissioner Joy suggested the language “employees get paid every 7 days.” Commissioner Brown questioned if paragraph 4. Separation /Retirement is discriminatory against elected officials. Commissioner Joy stated that he was in favor of treating people equally, but the Chief Deputy and Jail Administrator are given overtime compensation but not others. Commissioner Joy was ready to approve numbers 1-3. Commissioner Blasi stated that it would be confusing for interpretation purposes to approve numbers 1-3 but leave the remainder in the Management & Procedural Policy. Commissioner Joy stated that regular employees are paid sick time upon retirement (calling it the 720 buy-out) but the appointed/exempt employees are being treated differently; he did not agree with this. The chief deputy earns 12 hours of straight (comp) time and the Jail Administrator earns 8 hours of comp time, he questioned what is done for a Renee Wellman and others in the same positions. Commissioner Joy stated that he had issues with on call coverage. In order to treat everyone equally, the RCC Director, EMA Director, and Facilities Director would need to be added under Special Compensation. Commissioner Brown questioned how many hours exempt employees are actually working; he felt that they made well over $50,000 annually, with benefits.
MOTION: to accept the Appointed/Exempt Employee Policy. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: Commissioner Blasi stated that the administrator was asked to review Step/Merit information; CA Conlogue stated that it was on his list.
Commissioner Brown stated that today is the Register of Probate’s last day, he asked the County Administrator to address a letter to Register Cousins thanking her for her service. Commissioners Joy and Blasi agreed with the request.
CA Conlogue requested approval of the Sierra Communications Service Agreement. They do not deal with cellphone work and Spillman is “territorial.”
MOTION: to accept the Service Agreement with Sierra Communications for FY16 IT Services. (Joy/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
CA Conlogue requested commissioner signatures on the Jail funding letter to be sent to the Legislative Delegation. The initial complaint has been written to the Commissioner, Department of Corrections, and will be sent out early next week.
CA Conlogue requested permission to advertise to fill the LUPC opening from Hancock County. The post has been revised to say the candidates can live in or near the commissioner’s jurisdiction. The law requires that County Policy for posting job openings be followed. There is 90 business days from the date of the opening to complete the task, resumes could be reviewed and applicants could be screened at the January 12th meeting. The person chosen is subject to confirmation of the Senate; a background check is required. A copy of the resume and cover letter, background information and a county representative to introduce the candidate is needed. The candidate will testify before the committee and then a recommendation will be forwarded to the Senate. The position is reimbursed for travel and a $55/day stipend but this information does not have to be in the public notice.
MOTION: to approve the in-house posting plus the public advertising of the request for applicants to serve on the Maine Land Use Planning Commission. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed) Discussion: the posting will also be added to the website. Commissioner Joy suggested changes to the postings as he did not feel someone would apply under the current language.
MOTION: to nominate Commissioner Joy as Hancock County representative to the Maine County Commissioners Association and MCCA Risk Pool. (Brown/Blasi 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: to adjourn. (Blasi/Joy 3-0, motion passed)