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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes April 4th, 2017 #2132
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn. 35°
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Department head Barbara Veilleux said Maine Revenue Service is working on getting the increase of assessed value of our TIF district. Barbara had explained in a previous Commissioners’ meeting that this is very complex as the district consists of many portions of parcels instead of one entire parcel. Barbara noted she will forward the information onto the county’s attorney office Rudman & Winchell when it is received. Administrator Bill Collins added that Rudman & Winchell has proceeded with filing notice with the courts on the subject of the county not receiving their first year TIFF fund money.
• Barbara reminded the Commissioners that they had suggested having representatives from Penquis & Eastern Maine Development Corporation on the TIF Committee. She asked if the Commissioners had anyone particular in mind. Commissioner Baldacci responded that he thought Jason Bird, the Housing Development Director at Penquis, would be a good person to ask. Commissioner Davis suggested asking Lewis Payne formerly of Katahdin Bank and Greg Fuller of Machias Bank as committee members. Treasurer Dan Tremble mentioned a banker from the Katahdin region would be a good candidate to consider. Commissioner Davis thought it would be best to ask members of EMDC first, because of EMDC’s knowledge of grants which could aid possible applicants.
• Barbara and Deputy Director George Buswell stated that the Prentis salt shed is in need of a new roof. George has been working on building specs for replacing the roof with metal. George has sought out contractor David Trask for assistance in putting the specs together as he wants to be sure the bid specs are accurate and complete. Commissioner Baldacci doesn’t want to create a conflict of interest where Trask is a potential contractor. Commissioner Baldacci suggested having a contractor’s bid conference to clarify any problems in the initial specs after all parties have had a chance to review the initial bid. George agreed to holding a pre-bid and then modify if problems are found. Commissioner Baldacci asked if there were any other problems with the shed lot. George explained there is an area where water pools badly in the parking lot. George has spoken to the neighboring property owner about possibly opening up drainage on both lots to eliminate this pooling.
• Barbara and George will be sending out the annual salt/bid invitations to the county’s towns in the next few weeks.
• Barbara received an email from Susan Murray a resident in the Patten Area, noting that she is opposed to LD 128. The bill would require written permission for citizens to harvest Christmas trees, boughs, or edible wild foods on someone else’s land regardless if the property is posted or not.
• Department head Cap Ayer presented the Commissioners with price quotes for three different campus projects: installing a sink in PRCC, redoing the roof drains in the Annex building, and fixing the concrete deck in the boiler room. Cap commented that all of the proposals are conforming to the specs for each respective projects. Treasurer Dan Tremble asked if the contractors knew these were firm bids and not estimates. Cap answered the contractors knew they were bids. Commissioner Baldacci advised Cap to finalize the fact that the estimates are official bids and not quotes when he communicates with each contractor. Cap noted he would reiterate that point to the contractors.
• After reviewing all of the bids, Commissioner Davis motioned to award the project for the PRCC sink project at $4,958 and Annex Roof drain repair at $5,560 to Nicholas Plumbing and Heating. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to award both the bids to Nicholas Plumbing and Heating passed 3-0.
• After reviewing the concrete deck replacement bids Commissioner Sanborn motioned to award the job to Smith’s Concrete. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Cap added he will start working on getting specs together for the Post Office Roof repair bid.
• Treasurer Dan Tremble and Financial Director Judy Alexander reviewed last week’s bids for the county’s upcoming TAN. They recommended the Commissioners select Key Bank who offered the county a 1.05% interest rate for a lump sum distribution or on an as needed basis. They wanted to make the Commissioners aware that a late bid was received from Eaton Peabody for Katahdin Trust Bank for a Lump Sum rate of 1.48%, and an as needed rate of 1.73%. Dan explained that Judy will be working out the details to receive the proceeds of the TAN. Commissioner Davis made a motion to award the TAN to Key Bank for 1.05% on an as needed credit basis. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners, Dan, and Bill then signed off on the TAN documentation to be awarded to Key Bank.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton reported that there currently 183 inmates housed in the county jail. Of that number there are 149 males, 34 females, and we currently have 45 boarded out to other counties, 20 of which at Cumberland. Sheriff noted that there are 55 inmates in pre-trial services.
• Troy commented that our jail does not use the private transport company US Prisoner Transport. The company had recently garnered negative news for poor treatment of inmates during transports. Bill added that the DA’s office is not contracted with US Prisoner Transport but has used their services in the past.
• Troy stated that Correctional Health Partners (CHP) is currently on the jail’s campus. The organization has brought in four new staff members to oversee medical operations for our jail. CHP currently has contracts with the jails in Kennebec and Androscoggin. Sheriff believes this will be beneficial for our county since CHP will be able to share and shift multiple staff members among the three county jails.
• Troy has been communicating with PRCC head Chad LaBree in regards to possibly upgrading the mobile and portable radios in all of the Sheriff’s Departments patrol vehicles. Chad has requested the Sheriff switch to a radio system that will possibly qualify PRCC to receive federal funding. Troy is concerned however that the upgraded radios will cost nearly three times more than their current radio’s. Troy wishes to support PRCC’s desired transition, but requests to be part of the decision process since it will be such a substantial cost to their department. Chad added that MEMA and the county’s EMA will soon be holding town informational meetings regarding possible federal grant funding for different types of emergency radio services. The Sheriff added that the department needs to buy six radios right off. He will purchase the old style radios since it may be two or three years down the road before PRCC will be proceeding with the transition.
• The Sheriff noted he attended twenty-two jail/law-enforcement bills last week and testified on behalf of the MSA for eight of them. The Sheriff reiterated to legislators that either the state needs to help fund county jails or change the process of how we sentence inmates. The Sheriff is frustrated with the amount inmates who are in jail for technical violations of their probation, and most of those inmates have no bail options. He understands having to jail probation violators who are charged with new violations. However, half of our probation holds are only technical violations and almost all of them are no bail. The law states that these probation holds are supposed to be heard within 45 days. However Sheriff listed off probation inmates who have served well over 140 days and as much as 190. He will be meeting with Probation on Thursday to further discuss the matter.
• American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has reached out to all of the counties’ Sheriff Departments. The organization is concerned that the Sheriff’s will begin seeking out immigration violators and arresting/housing them in county jails. Sheriff has reached out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement and offered to meet with them to discuss their concerns. The Sheriff said he has no plans in getting involved with immigration policy violators due to the already max capacity of our jail. Troy informed the Commissioners that ACLU may wish to meet with them some time in the future.
• The Sheriff informed the Commissioners that an out of state law enforcement officer perished in a car crash linked to the Ford Explorer emissions problem that has garnered national news. The crash was caused from the officer passing out from carbon monoxide poisoning then fatally crashing his patrol vehicle. One of our county’s deputies was taken to the hospital from being exposed carbon monoxide levels in his vehicle. The Sheriff is not happy with the repairs that Ford has suggested to correct the issue. The Sheriff has been grateful to Whited Ford for working on this problem, however there has been no recalls issued. The Sheriff is saving all documentation of the repairs in hopes that the county will eventually be reimbursed. The department has also purchased portable carbon monoxide alarms for the eighteen patrol vehicles who could be affected by this emission’s defect.
• The Sheriff has been working with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on applying for federal funding. NAMI will use the funding to gather data for the Stepping Up initiative. However they are unable to apply for the grants since it is only eligible to government entities. Troy asked the Commissioners to sign off on allowing his Department to apply for the funding and allow NAMI to conduct the study in our county jail. Commissioner Davis motioned to approve applying for this federal grant. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Troy noted the funding will pay for the labor of the study and there is no future contractual commitment on the county.
• Bill and Commissioner Baldacci notified the Sheriff of a new LD-1266 sponsored by Senator Diamond, Representative Spear, and Representative Madigan. The proposed bill establishes the process for transferring county jail facilities and operational responsibilities to the State as of July 1, 2020. Commissioner Baldacci was disappointed in the timing of the bill, noting that it distracts from the current issues of funding and overcrowding. Commissioner Baldacci stressed that it should be a partnership with counties and the State to run our jails. He added that if the State wants to back off contributing to county jails, then they should allow the county to create a revenue stream to help fund the operation.
• Sheriff Morton was frustrated in hearing legislators complain about the high medical costs for the treatment of inmates in county jails vs the state prison. Troy explained that is far more costly to initially treat someone who first walks into a jail then to simply maintain their health once they been sentenced to the State Prison.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a legal matter at 9:58 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, Finance Director Judy Alexander, Sheriff Troy Morton, and county attorney Ed Bearor were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 10:25 am with no Votes taken.
Judy Harrison from the Bangor Daily News asked a series of question regarding the county’s involvement with the property at 127 Hammond Street, Bangor Maine.
• Judy asked if the Commissioners had entered into a purchase and sale agreement had the bank and lien holder agreed to it. Commissioner Baldacci replied they had reached an agreement with the estate of William F Buxton for the purchase price of $825,000. The sale has been approved by the property owner, the bank, and the lien holder.
• Judy asked if the Commissioners were aware of how the sale proceeds would be split. Commissioner Baldacci noted the county has no involvement in that matter. The funds will be divided based on whatever the owners, bank, and lien holder come to terms for agreement.
• Judy asked what is the county’s next step to renovate the newly acquired space? Commissioner Baldacci answered that once the sale closes the plan would be to gather and brainstorm a planning committee to fully analyze all of the counties options.
• Judy asked if the Commissioners had an estimate of what it would cost to renovate the building to be used as an expansion of the jail’s campus. Commissioner Baldacci commented that there are no estimates at this point. However the Commissioners feel this purchase would be the most economical venture to solve the growing jail population and the county’s campus needs.
• Judy asked if there was an estimated date for renovations to commence. Commissioner Baldacci said there is no finalized date, however the hope would be to have a November Public Vote for the county to go out to bond. Commissioner Baldacci reiterated that the plan is not to rush into action but to properly plan and examine all possible renovation options.
• Judy asked what the plan is for notifying the lessees of the building. Commissioner Baldacci explained that the county’s attorney has spoken to the current tenants of the building. They have been informed that the county will honor their respective leases and will not impose a penalty if either of the tenants decide to back out of the lease early.
• Judy asked if the county will begin renovations while the tenants are still in the building. Commissioner Baldacci explained that the renovations will take place in areas of the building not occupied by the lessees. The renovations should not interfere with any of their use of the property.
• Judy asked Administrator Bill Collins when she would be able to take pictures inside of the building. Bill answered that once the sale is finalized, Judy can contact and set up a date to tour the building.
• Commissioner Sanborn commented that this property opens up many opportunities for further expansion of all the county’s departments. She explained the purchase would also aid in adding additional parking that the county offers for jail and county’s employees.
• Judy asked if the City of Bangor still owns the parking lot around the county’s campus. Bill and the Commissioners answered that the county bought the current parking lot from the City of Bangor but the city retained a small portion of the lot to hold for their use.
• Judy asked if there was a bidding process in regards to the sale of the building. Commissioner Baldacci explained that the county had been in negotiations with the property’s estate. The City Reach Church was also in negotiations with the estate at the same time.
• Administrator Bill Collins mentioned that he, Commissioner Baldacci, as well as Chad LaBree and Betty Stone from PRCC attended County Day in Augusta. Bill noted saw very few legislators. Bill added that they did become aware of the before mentioned jail transition bill, LD 1266 while they attended.
• Bill stated the county’s District Attorney recently hit a deer with his vehicle. The vehicle is operable but has suffered a couple thousand dollars’ worth of damage.
• Bill informed the Commissioners of an accident a couple weeks ago that was just brought to his attention. A Sheriff’s Deputy accidently hit an ADA’s vehicle while pulling into a parking space in the county’s lot. Bill stated insurance report has been filled.
• Sheriff Department Office Administrator Vanessa Holmes forwarded a Maine Human Rights complaint to the county’s risk pool. However the risk pool responded that it doesn’t cover human rights complaints. The complaint was then passed onto John Hammer of Rudman & Winchell. Bill added the complaint appears to be filed against the State Department of Corrections originating from one of our county’s inmates.
• An auto-body shop has asked to purchase the Sheriff’s Department cruiser that was damaged in a recent deer collision (discussed in the March 28th minutes). Commissioner Davis asked Bill to go through the normal bidding process to sell the vehicle first.
• Bill note he had received a complaint in regards to a Probate employee’s dog disturbing another county employee. No physical harm was done to the employee who filed the complaint but the dog was not on a leash and the question is what the Commissioners policy is. Chad LaBree commented the dog serves as a therapy for the Probate Court and others. Bill spoke to the dog’s owner and asked that while the dog is out of the office it be kept on a leash. The Commissioners said they would table the discussion for a later date.
• The county has a fact finding to be scheduled on an upcoming labor contract. We need to identify up to three employer representatives to serve on this board. The Commissioners and Dan Tremble suggested Patricia McDunn, Frank Fresco and Gene Marvin.
• The National Corrections Group has requested Bill to provide them a copy of all the county’s correction officer contracts. Bill noted this is a FOIA request and they are entitled to receive the information.
• Bill noted that a new full time jail employee, Holly Eastman’s, pay scale had been moved to Step 3. This employee had over five years of corrections’ experience and the contract allows an employee to enter at that pay step. The payroll notice form had been previously signed at the step one.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for $ 205,583.30
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for $ 62,443.91
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: $ 115,899.65
• Payroll change notice signed for: Dianne Estey – Retirement. Michael Frederick, William Kettle, and Rocco Santa Fe – Resignations. Kristine Higgins and Patricia McLaughlin.
• Compensation notice signed for: Terry Sullivan – 4 hours. Tyler Thompson – 2.25 hours. The March 14th, 2017 minutes inadvertently stated Denise Molinaro’s compensation notice at 3.75 hours. It should have read 11.25 hours. The March 21st, 2017 minutes mistakenly omitted DJ Bowden’s earned compensation time for 3 hours.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter at 11:00 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (A). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, and PRCC department head Chad LaBree were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 11:48 am with no votes taken.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:50 am with no further business on the agenda.
Penobscot County Administrator
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Thomas J. Davis, Jr., Commissioner