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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes February 28, 2017 #2127
9:00 AM Commissioners Tom Davis and Laura Sanborn.
Commissioner Peter Baldacci was absent. 35°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the February 14th and 21st minutes. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Barbara Veilleux noted that she recently met with Judy Alexander, George Buswell, Marsha McInnis, and other Maine counties to discuss forming a TIF fund committee. Commissioner Davis suggested only using current county employees as members of the committee. His expressed his fear that too many outsiders would hinder progress from taking place. Commissioner Sanborn asked Barbara what she’d like to see happen. Barbara felt having outside input would be beneficial for the committee in order to get more insight from those that have more of a background with TIF funds. Barbara noted that Washington County has bank officers that serve on their committees. She stated that she’d feel more comfortably from a legal standpoint if committee members had lawful experience with TIF funding. Washington County currently has two applications: one for a revolving loan fund, the other for grants given. Barbara noted she is currently developing a similar system for our county’s TIF and she will share this when she is completed.
• Roads are currently posted in Argyle, Greenfield, and Grand Falls. George Buswell is out posting more roads today. George is also fixing a washout on the Crocker Turn road in Littlefield yesterday.
• Barbara followed up in regards to the Town of Hampdens ACO services. She has reached out to Hampden’s town manager to see if we need the town’s council’s approval but has yet to hear back anything. The Town of Levant recently noted they are happy with their current ACO and do not wish to outsource that service to the county. The Commissioners commended Barbara for reaching out to the towns.
• Barbara reminded the Commissioners that there was a developing permit request for the territory T2 R9 NWP. The US military wishes to construct a training facility. Barbara sees no problem with their request since the only service the county provides in that territory is 911 addressing. Commissioner Sanborn noted she had fielded a couple complaints from local residents concerned about the noise level that may arise from the site. Commissioner Davis just asked Barbara to contact the military and ask them to keep the Commissioners advised.
• Bill asked if Barbara had heard back from one of the county’s attorneys Ed Bearor in regards to the TIF fund. Barbara said there had not been any recent communication. Barbara is concerned that the county will not receive the TIF funds for the first year if a decision is not made by the time the Municipal Cost Component Legislation meets. Lisa Whynot of the Maine Revenue Service told Barbara that these funds are currently being held in the educational account for Unorganized Territories. Barbara stated she’ll advise the Commissioners when she hears back from Ed.
• Barbara noted that she had received a complaint from a resident in Mattamiscontis who was upset he had to take his dog to Chester to get licensed. Barbara discovered that Veterinarians are required to notify towns of what dogs have been vaccinated. The towns then have their animal control officers notify the dog owners who are not in compliance. Barbara stated that Chester had been providing this service to Mattamiscontis for free. In talking with the town of Chester, Barbara asked if a $500 contract to continue to provide the ACO service would be satisfactory. The town said it would be. Barbara noted the county has an ACO in Chester but they have never used his services. Barbara said if the Commissioners approve to draft a contract she would notify the current ACO that the county will be switching their services. Commissioner Sanborn motioned for Barbara to draft a new ACO contract with the Town of Chester. Commissioner Davis seconded. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton noted that there are 181 inmates, 138 males 43 females, in the county jail. We are currently boarding out 43, twenty of which we are paying for.
• Sheriff recently was the guest speaker at the ceremony for graduating corrections officers. The director of the academy spoke very highly of the officers that were recently hired by our county.
• The Sheriff explained that for the last three months he has been unable to hire for the northern patrol zone of the county. He noted the state police has been very helpful in covering scheduling due to this open position. He added it has been hard on patrolmen who have had to travel from the southern portion of the county to fill this position. He mentioned he had a very experienced Chief of Police who is interested in filling the opening. Troy spoke very highly of this officer. However he is concerned that the candidate will turn down the offer due to a significant drop in pay versus his current wage. Troy explained that the Union contract states if a person has had more than five years’ experience, the county can hire the individual at the step 4 pay-scale. Sheriff then asked if the Commissioners would consider hiring the candidate at a higher step to help offset the candidate’s possible compensation loss. He noted that the candidate expressed he wasn’t planning on taking the county’s health insurance if he were to take the position. Commissioner Davis noted that the county shouldn’t take this into consideration as the candidate could change their mind. Sheriff stated that the county budgeted for a Step 7 pay-scale employee. He explained that in talking with heads of the Union, they would support hiring the individual at a higher step scale in consideration that the position has been so difficult to fill and the fact the Sheriff speaks highly of the candidate. The Commissioners granted Administrator Bill Collins and Sheriff Morton freedom to offer the candidate a higher step on the pay scale.
• The Sheriff explained the county’s mental health contract with Acadia Hospital expires at the end of June. Troy commented that a local organization has expressed a great deal of interest in wanting to provide the county that service. The organization is very qualified and they hope to explore other avenues of treatment that he thought would enhance our county’s care of inmates. Troy asked if the Commissioners would approve to go out to RFP for our county’s mental health contract. Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve an RFP for the county’s mental health contract. Commissioner Davis seconded. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
• The Sheriff said that the county’s contract with Miller Drug (a division of Eastern Maine Medical Services) has recently expired. Troy explained that there had never been any issues filling prescriptions for the department up until the contract expired. Now Miller has expressed that where the county is no longer under contract, we are not given priority service. The department’s current medical provider has expressed they would like to see the county’s pharmacy provider change and will create the RFP so the county can go out to bid. Sheriff still has some interest that the county stay with Miller due to its local proximity and ability to usually deliver on demand. The Sheriff has a competitor in mind that can match any pricing by Miller, but only delivers by mail.
• The Sheriff relayed that he has been unhappy with the level of service the county jail has received in the service of all the jail door’s locks. The provider is very nice and personable but feels the service has been unsatisfactory. The current provider charges a $60 travel fee then $60/hr. for his time worked. Sheriff would like to send an existing correctional officer to Texas for a week long training program that would enable him to properly service and maintain the jail’s locks. Troy stated the class costs around six to eight hundred dollars. The county would then only have to pay the correction officer’s normal pay and any overtime associated with maintenance/service work that could not be fit in with the officer’s current duties. Commissioner Davis expressed his hesitation in light that the correction officer could get done at the jail at any point and the county would be out the funds that paid for his trip/training. Sheriff Morton and Bill conveyed they felt the officer would stay with the county for a while and that wasn’t a major concern. Sheriff Morton conveyed that the training class starts in three weeks. He would like to register the officer immediately to hold his position. Bill then asked what other options the county has. Sheriff Morton replied that the locks had been contracted out in the past, however the company charged six to eight thousand dollars just for maintenance and then in addition billed out for service calls. Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve the request to send the officer to the training class. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
• Sheriff then presented that the vending company the department uses to account for all inmates’ monetary funds has recently been sold. The Sheriff sent Vanessa Holmes and other administrators from the jail to review a company that other county jails use. They were all impressed with this other company’s software and equipment. The jail currently uses staff members to write receipts and keep track of funds. The new company however has a vending machine and online portal that members of the public can deposit or track the funds without tying up county staff. Troy noted that the price of service is very similar to the old vendor and the company is known for being very secure. He will give a formal presentation on the service at a later date.
• The Sheriff presented the new Maine Sheriff’s magazine and the 2016 Penobscot County Sheriff’s report.
• Bill asked how a local network breach situation was progressing. The Sheriff explained that Lt. Hotaling and county IT head Cliff Warren had been working together and found a backup of the affected files. They believe all the files can be reconstructed from the backup. The Sheriff was really happy with how Cliff and the Jail’s IT department handled and resolved the matter. Troy noted that the he has been utilizing a couple correction officers to scan all the jail’s computers and noted only one of over a hundred computers had a virus on its system. Bill and Troy added they would like to discuss at a later date how the IT department and Jail can work more closely together to ensure that both entities are properly defended from network and digital attacks.
• Bill stated that as of today, no supplemental State funding has been granted for the jail. He is still attempting to get in front of the Criminal Justice Committee to present the county’s request. Troy recently spoke with Jim Mackie of AFSCME who was concerned with our county housing state inmates when our jail isn’t up to date on state standards. Troy explained that our jail is up to date on standards but is simply waiting on an audit to take place which would then officially certify the facility.
• Bill explained that one of the bids arrived past the advertised time deadline. Lt. Hotaling contacted all the car dealerships that normally respond to the ads and found that one of the dealerships had inadvertently mishandled the bid. Thus the notice arrived late to the salesman who then turned it in yesterday (Monday the 27th) a few hours past the advertised deadline. Commission Davis stated that since the bids were never opened the Commissioners would accept the late bid.
• The Sheriff informed the Commissioners that an officer had submitted a first report of injury in regards to smelling a high amount of exhaust fumes in his patrol car. Whited Ford then serviced the vehicle and found Ford had put out two statements of ways to fix the issue. Sheriff says there are no current recalls but expects there to be one in the future. Commissioner Sanborn suggested getting carbon monoxide detectors for the cars. Troy responded that’s a possibility but where not all officers are complaining he suggested waiting for the recall from Ford since the department would have to purchase fifty monitors to satisfy every vehicle. Commissioner Sanborn said that the department could do tests with random patrol cars to help monitor the issue. Sheriff said he will follow up with Police Departments that he knows uses monitors and report back. He’s informed all patrolmen to notify him if they can smell any exhaust in their vehicles.
• Darlings provided a bid of $30,130 per vehicle for seven patrol units. Quirk’s bid was $29,706 per vehicle. Sheriff noted that it is convenient to have someone local to purchase/service the vehicles, but this year’s bids seem to be not as close as in prior years. Commissioner Sanborn motioned to award the bid to Quirk at $29,706 per vehicle. Commissioner Davis seconded. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
• Bill asked if the Sheriff could follow up with Lt. Hotaling to insure the bids were accurate in what county had requested for specifications.
• Department head Chad LaBree presented a request on the behalf of the department to install a kitchen somewhere in dispatch. Chad explained that for employees who work extra-long shifts, an installed sink would be utilized often and appreciated. The Commissioners Okayed the request.
• Chad then noted he would like to start looking into more effectively tying all the counties dispatch towers together. This would enable patrolmen from Dixmont to Patten to be able to communicate and hear broadcasts simultaneously. Chad explained the complexity of the issue is that the technology of broadcasting towers is quickly moving away from mechanical devices into an all-digital systems. Chad is concerned that we will have to either update the majority of the county’s towers or erect new ones all together. Thus Chad strongly advises that the county hire a consultant who can offer the best and most effective ways to adapt to the changing broadcasting environment. Commissioner Davis stated he would like Commissioner Baldacci to be present for this discussion and asked if Chad could present this again next week. Commissioner Davis also requested Chad get estimates for what the consultation would cost. Chad said he would report back.
• Chad presented the department had recent issues with the county’s dispatch vendor who provides service on our Motorola equipment. Motorola feels the county’s vendor is not up to date with their training and knowing the technicalities of their equipment. A New Hampshire based vendor has offered to train and educate our current vendor for free. However, Chad noted this training and certification offer most likely would not be completed till late summer. Thus Chad is concerned that if our current vendor does not get the training necessary Motorola will drop our vendor as a service provider. He said that there is another vendor RCM in the state that is contracted with other Maine public safety offices. They are certified with Harris products, but notes that Motorola is working on partnering with them as a service provider. Chad would like to get a service quote from RCM. The Commissioners agreed for him to get a quote and discuss this issue at a future meeting.
Public Comment- None.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for $ 205,772.91
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for $ 382,006.31
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: None
• Payroll change notice signed for: Gary Hood, Garrit McKee, & Christopher Watson.
• Compensation notice signed for: None.
Executive Session- Commissioner Sanborn made a request to go into Executive Session to discuss a Legal matter at 10:20 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E). Commissioners Davis, Commissioner Sanborn, Administrator Bill Collins, and Sheriff Troy Morton. Executive Session ended at 11:20 with no votes taken.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:21 with no further business on the agenda.
Penobscot County Administrator William Collins
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Thomas J. Davis, Jr., Commissioner