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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes March 14, 2017 #2129
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn. 25°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve the March 7th minutes. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Department head Cap Ayer presented maintenance bids on two of the county’s buildings. He explained that the county building housing the Post Office is in desperate need of a new roof. He would like to see the rock ballasts removed to lessen the weight the building is supporting.
• Cap added that there are two large puddles consistently forming on the county’s annex building roof. He explained that due to the inaccurate roof pitch and drain locations, the water will not drain correctly. He would like to have new drains installed that would funnel the water off the building and onto the surrounding grounds. Cap currently has an estimate to install the new drains and added there would be an additional fee to have a plumber come in and tie together the drain pipes. Commissioner Davis’ is concerned that during the winter months the drain water will freeze onto nearby roads and sidewalks creating a hazard. The Commissioners asked if Cap would reexamine the cost if we were to tie the new drains into the piping that leads directly into the storm drains versus down the side building. Cap said he would report back. Commissioner Davis motioned to put both roofing projects (Post Office and Annex Building) out to bid separately. The motion included having the new annex building drains tie into the current storm drain. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Cap reminded the Commissioners that the concrete deck in the boiler room has a significant hole in it and is in need of repair. He has received one estimate already for the job. The Commissioners asked if Cap would get two more quotes and report back to them.
• Cap reported he had received an estimate to install a sink in the dispatch department. He said the installation is extensive due to lines that would need to be run from the attic and second floor to properly tie into the current plumbing system. He will get more estimates and report back to the Commissioners.
• Sheriff Troy Morton asked Cap if any members of the maintenance staff would be able to monitor jail inmates shoveling and cleaning up after snowstorms. Sheriff Morton noted he would supply as many inmates as needed, he would just like someone to monitor them through the day/night so that he doesn’t have to pull corrections officers out of the jail to fulfill this role. Cap expressed his concern that the janitorial crew are released during major storms. Commissioner Davis asked Cap to figure out a way to get this done.
FOP Patrol Line Unit Contract Signing-
• Bill Collins began by thanking Patrol Officer’s Jimmy Ellis, Steve Saucier and Union Representative Jack Parlon for being professional during the Line Unit Contract negotiations. Jim also thanked the Commissioners and Bill for coming to terms on the new patrol unit contract and looks forward to working with them again later in the year on the units’ next contract. The Commissioners and Jim Ellis each signed the new contract.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton began by expressing his frustration that correction officers are still forced to leave the jail and monitor inmates cleaning up during/after snow storms. He explained that when storms are bad enough maintenance employees are excused from work, leaving no non-jail employees to help with the cleanup. Thus he is forced to pull officers out of already full jails to monitor the inmates shovel and salt around our campus. Sheriff explained that the campus needs attention around the clock due that the jail and dispatch centers are 24/7 operations. The Sheriff explained that he would provide all the labor needed to perform the tasks, it is just the supervision roles that he would like help filling. The Commissioners would like to see Bill and Cap work out a plan where a maintenance worker or supervisor would be around during the bad storms to oversee cleanup duties.
• Troy presented the following population figures of the jail: total count 193, 37 female, 156 males; 37 boarded out; 55 in Maine pre-trial. Commissioner Baldacci asked what the demographics of our 37 inmates boarded out were. Troy answered about 17 are being held in Cumberland. The Sheriff explained that we are trying to keep as many out of Cumberland to reduce our costs. The Sheriff explained that many of the jails that we are normally house inmates in are at or near full capacity in their maximum security divisions. Hence it compounds the complexity of boarding out our overflowing population. Our inmates’ risk levels must match up with vacancies in other receiving jail in order to be able to house them.
• Sheriff Morton noted he had recently nominated Deputy Ed Toulouse for the Maine Sheriff’s Associations’ Deputy of the Year. Out of the dozen deputies nominated around the State, the MSA selected Deputy Toulouse as the recipient for this year’s honor.
• The Commissioners’ praised Sheriff Morton and other law enforcement officers’ successful efforts in saving a missing boy in the Sherman area this week. Sheriff Morton applauded the communication and coordinating efforts of the many departments and towns’ people involved.
• The town of Passadumkeag is reviewing supplemental contracts with the Sheriff’s Department to provide for part time patrol service. Troy explained that if we could pick this service up it would be beneficial financially for the county.
• The Sheriff met recently with Region 5 Chiefs of Police to discuss the proposed bill LD 516. The bill would require local municipalities to pay a surcharge of $50, and then $27/day to house crime offenders at county jails. The Chiefs, who represent their respective towns, are naturally against the bill. Troy said he voted along with others in MSA to oppose the bill. He feels the bill misallocates the financial burden to the towns rather than the State. He described how many Chiefs have contacted their local legislators to plead with the State to address the financial crisis of Maine County Jails. The Commissioners were in support of how Troy and the MSA voted.
• The Sheriff has been in contact with State Representative Garrel Craig of Brewer. He would like to tour the county jail, so the Sheriff will accommodate him in the near future.
• Troy recently sent a letter to probation and parole expressing his frustration with the lack of bail options for many low risk violators in the jail. Pat Delahanty, the regional correctional administrator, will be meeting with Troy in the coming weeks to address this issue. The Commissioners were in full support of pressing the D.A.’s office to help lessen the population burden of the jail regardless of whether the county receives any supplemental jail funding. Bill added that he received a call from the Kennebec Journal asking him to comment on the situation in our county jail. Bill explained that one of the topics he commented on was the probation and parole issue along with a synopsis of the jail population and funding problems.
• The Sheriff presented an instance where the state recently asked the county to transport a former Penobscot County inmate back and forth from the State prison to the Cumberland County courthouse for an appeal hearing. Troy noted how much the county would have to spend providing this transportation. He would like to see the hearing simply take place at Knox County to eliminate transportation needs. Troy expects however that our county will have to provide this transportation and pay for these costs.
• The Sheriff notified the Commissioners that he will be implementing the Maine Chiefs of Police policy regarding marijuana use for any law enforcement and correctional officers. The policy restricts any officer for using or being in possession of marijuana despite the recent legalization of the drug statewide. Troy added this policy was possible due to the fact that there is still Federal law against the use of the drug. Sheriff commented that the drug is even prohibited for medical use for inmates due to the Federal sanction. Commissioner Baldacci felt this was a safe stance for the Sheriff to take. This is a complex issue.
• Troy brought forward a forfeiture in the amount of $1,080 from the case of Me vs. Albert Fairbrother. Troy further explained that the D.A.’s office notified him that they will start collecting 15% of any future forfeitures as an administrative fee. Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to accept these forfeited funds. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to accept passed 3-0. Sheriff added the funds are used to buy equipment, specialty training, and community preventative materials for the department.
• Bill and Troy on working on solidifying a date for Troy to meet with Governor LePage to communicate the financial and population crisis many counties are experiencing. Sheriff would like to meet with the Governor before the Governor meets with the MCCA. He feels it would be beneficial for the Governor to have knowledge of the jails’ condition from a Sheriff standpoint, before he sits down with a collection of county commissioners.
• Sheriff Morton testified in a military and correctional officer hearing regarding a bill that allows military personnel to be able skip the correctional officer training mandate for employment. Troy believed that if certain military personnel had received training to oversee military prisoners, he hoped the hearing would allow that experience to satisfy the correctional officer mandate. Troy expounded that the criminal justice academy was against the change arguing that the training is not similar enough to satisfy the requirement. Troy noted it would save the county a significant amount of money in training costs and help with correctional officer recruitment with ex-military job seekers.
• Bill asked the Sheriff if he would consider having some deputies or Sheriff Department officers present for next weeks’ Commissioners’ meeting. Bill expects a large crowd for the meeting as it will be the discussion of the county possibly acquiring the old YMCA building via eminent domain. The Sheriff noted he will work on it and plans on attending the meeting as well.
For the Minutes-
• Commissioner Baldacci stated the MCCA has hired Charlie Pray as the interim executive director for the association in place of Rosemary Kulow who is retiring. He added that Charlie has a lot of experience in legislation and his first day will be on the 20th. Commissioner Baldacci explained that the MCCA will be advertising for the position in the near future. Sheriff Morton would love the opportunity to sit down with Mr. Pray and convey the importance of local legislators focusing on the current needs of their respective counties.
General Unit Contract Signing-
• Bill presented the General Unit Contract, representing clerical and custodial county employees, for the years 2017-2019 to be signed. Bill and the Commissioners complemented county employees Shelley Carver and Debbie Knapp for their work on the contract and the short amount of time it took for the parties to come to an agreement. Commissioner Davis motioned to sign and accept the contract as presented. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners, Shelley and Debbie signed the contract.
• Debbie noted that not having the county attorney involved in the contract process made the process much easier. Commissioner Baldacci noted that the Commissioners shared that sentiment as well.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Department head Barbara Veilleux presented a thank you letter to the Town of Lee to be signed by the Commissioners. The letter was written to commend the Lee Fire Department for rescuing an Unorganized Territory resident who had requested an ambulance. The Lee Fire Department was called due to the Town of Mattawamkeag’s ambulance became stuck responding to the same distress call. Mattawamkeag was able to have a towing service respond and pull their ambulance free. The March 7th, 2017 minutes mistakenly recorded that the towing service failed to free the ambulance. Mattawamkeag notified Barbara that the bill for the towing service amounted to $525. Barbara believed it would be a good gesture for the county to pay the bill considering the fact Mattawamkeag was unable to collect revenue for transporting the patient. Commissioner Davis made a motion to pay Mattawamkeag’s towing bill. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners had approved compensating Lee for their services in the March 7th, 2017 meeting. The March 7th minutes however, incorrectly annotated that the Town of Lee’s compensation was for freeing the Mattawamkeag ambulance, instead of transporting the patient who made the distress call.
• Barbara presented a contract to be signed for the Town of Chester to provide our animal control services for the Mattamiscontis Twp. area. The Commissioners signed the contract which they had approved in a previous meeting.
• Barbara requested approval for George Buswell and herself to attend the Maine Resource & Recovery Association’s Solid Waste Convention in Rockport on April 24th and 25th. She explained she would like to attend the convention on the 25th while George would like to attend both days. George explained that the MRRA is conducting several experiments with organic waste and promoting improved recycling of textiles. They have also partnered with Keep Maine Clean to focus on cleaning up harvested wood lots across the State. All three Commissioners approved their travel request. Commissioner Baldacci told George to notify the Commissioners if the county can assist the programs in any way.
• Barbara noted that Rudman Winchell is still working on the request to the Maine Treasury Service for our county TIF funds. They have asked Barbara to determine the increase In Assessed Value (IAV) of the TIF district area. Barbara explained that this is very complex due that the district consists of many portions of parcels instead of one entire parcel. She has reached out to Lisa Whynot of the Maine Revenue Service for this information. Barbara complemented Lisa and Maine Revenue Service for their help.
• Barbara has recently modified Washington County’s draft loan and grant applications to for our county’s distribution of TIF funds. Bill’s initial concern was that the return time for loan approvals was 10 days. He fears that is too short of a time frame for a TIF committee to meet and make a decision on the application. Barbara was concerned that the maximum loan amount was $10,000. She feels that figure is too low of a limit for individuals or business to apply. Financial Director Judy Alexander explained that Washington County had $10,000 as a loan limit due to the county had issues collecting on a much higher principled loan. Thus they decreased the maximum principle amount to lower their collection risk. The Commissioners and Barbara suggested removing the maximum loan limit and leaving the amount of the loan up to the discretion of the TIF committee.
• Barbara also presented how other counties have constructed their TIF committees. Washington County currently has a county manager, two bankers, UT administrator, and an executive director of an economical council on its grant committee. Then they have a separate committee for their TIF loans consisting of two bankers, the county manager, and a member of the County CAP agency. Franklin County members consist of members from local businesses, an educator, and a town manager. Commissioner Davis feels that our county would be better fit to resemble how Washington County constructs their committee. The Commissioners expressed their hopes for the grant and loan money to only be awarded to businesses or individuals for the purpose of providing jobs and improving UT communities. Bill and Barbara had shared that they have already received requests from individuals and organizations interested in applying for funds. Commissioner Baldacci asked Barbara to look into forming one committee with a blend of employees from the county, bankers, and economic development committee members. Barbara hopes that the committee would only have to meet at most on a monthly basis. She then asked if she should pursue forming the committee with local citizens. The Commissioners and Treasurer Dan Tremble felt that if a citizen were to be on the board, that individual should be from an Unorganized Territory. The Commissioners were concerned however, that just seeking out a citizen from a UT would be too narrow of a scope to effectively provide broad insight for the committee. Barbara noted she will have the Commissioners approve the application forms when the TIF money is released to the county.
Vote to Approve to Change the Maine Public Employees Retirement Plan from AC to 2C for County’s Law Enforcement Officers-
• Bill Collins presented a change for our Patrol Deputies who take part in the Maine Public Retirement system (Maine PERS). The new labor contract includes a change in the retirement plan to be switched from Plan AC to Plan 2C Classification on July 1st of 2017. This change will enable patrol officers to retire with ½ pay after 25 years of service with no age requirement. This only applies to new officers hired after July 1st, 2017. All current officers will have a mathematical blend for retirement benefits of the old and new plans. Under the old AC plan, officers could retire after 25 years of service, but would not receive their full benefit amount until age 60 or 65 years depending upon their start date. However, there would be a pro-rated deduction fee for taking the benefit before their before mentioned retirement age of 60 or 65. Stephanie Fecteau of Maine PERS will be creating an analysis for each individual patrol officer currently employed by the county explaining their blended benefit. The county’s contribution rate will increase from 9.6% of employee wages under the AC plan to 10.1% for the 2C plan. Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve the change to switch the Maine PERS plan from AC to 2C for Law Enforcement Officers. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to designate Administrator Bill Collins as a County representative to sign for this change. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Department head Michelle Tanguay noted she had received a letter from FEMA approving the county’s hazard mitigation plan. The approved plan will be effective until 2022. The plan enables county municipalities to receive hazard mitigation federal grants in the wake of a declared disaster. She will deliver the new plan to all of the county’s towns in the coming weeks.
• Commissioner Baldacci asked Michelle when FEMA was going to require states and counties to pay a deductible towards declared disasters assistance. Michelle responded that the policy is in draft form and her best estimate is that it will be seven to nine years before it will be implemented.
• Michelle noted the department has been holding various training sessions in the East Millinocket area leading up to their full scale exercises in May. The session have been well attended and consist of people from a variety of nearby towns and emergency response facilities.
• The FEMA citizen core project will be visiting our department to identify and designate two Community Point of Distribution (CPODs) sites for our county. The locations are designated as drop sites for federal food & supplies in the wake of a disaster in our County. Michelle added that the CPODs are only used when an area runs out of food and supplies after a period of 72 hours from the start time of the disaster. Michelle noted Brewer Deputy Fire Chief Ralph Cammack and Bangor Fire Chief Thomas Higgins will be assisting with the process of designating both cities respective CPOD locations.
• Michelle then explained that MEMA recently communicated to all counties that they need to submit their projects to FEMA this year. In past years counties were not required to submit their local projects to receive grant funding. Michelle has put out a request for proposals for our county. She stated the county has been told to plan for the same amount of funds as they have received in previous years, however the funding amount is still subject to change.
• Department head Chad LaBree commented that maintenance head Cap Ayer expressed hesitation in having the custodial crew use the new sink that is being installed in the PRCC. Cap was worried that some employees may hurt themselves lifting and filling mop buckets in a standard kitchen sink. Chad suggested that since the water lines are being run from the men’s bathroom to the proposed sink, a mop sink could just be installed in the bathroom eliminating the need for the custodial crew to share the PRCC sink. The Commissioners agreed. Bill and Chad said they would inform Cap of the revised installation plan.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis made a request to go into Executive Session to discuss a contract matter at 10:50 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the request. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, Finance Director Judy Alexander and PRCC department head Chad LaBree were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 11:36 am. Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve Director Chad LaBree to prepare an RFP to hire a Radio Consultant. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve sending our two Quality Assurance personnel to the National Dispatcher Conference in Louisiana in April at an approximate cost of $ 3,200. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for $ 209,896.90
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for $ 64,919.19
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: None
• Payroll change notice signed for: Lucas R. Babcock – Re-Hired Part Time, Donald J. Bolduc – Hired Full Time, Anthony Soucy - Resigned
• Compensation notice signed for: Cap Ayer – 8 Hours, Denise Molinaro – 3.75 Hours
• Bill Collins will prepare an Impact Statement in regards to lack of Jail Funding to Penobscot County for this fiscal year to be sent to the Criminal Justice Committee.
• The BARN held an event this past Friday which the Commissioners were invited to attend.
• The Commissioners signed their formal decisions in the Tax Abatement cases they heard on February 28th for mailing.
• Cumberland County Manager Peter Crichton has been selected to become the new Town Manager of Auburn.
• Bill Collins was interviewed for an article in the Kennebec Journal in regards to the Jail Funding crisis.
• Although there is more information to come, Bill has learned that the Voya Fixed Accounts guaranteeing 4% when our contract was signed is supposed to change in the very near future. Bill has learned that employees participating in these funds are quite upset.
Public Comment- None.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:53 am with no further business on the agenda.
Penobscot County Administrator
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Thomas J. Davis, Jr., Commissioner