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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes April 25th, 2017 #2135
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn. 40°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve the April 18th, 2017 minutes. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Probate Department update-
• Department head Renee Stupak stated the department has implemented a new policy in regards to mandating background checks. The policy would require a background check for an adult to be granted guardianship for minors or incapacitated individuals in the DHHS system. This policy incurs no cost to the petitioner or the county. Renee indicated Probate does not need the petitioner’s permission or are we required to inform the petitioner of the results of the check. Renee explained that before the department begins the background check process, Probate ensures that individuals are even eligible to apply for guardianship by verifying with DHHS and District Court that the petitioner has no previous restrictions.
• Commissioner Baldacci asked what Renee and the department’s stance was on the many Probate orientated bills currently before legislation. Renee answered that she is concerned of the bill that would transfer Probate and all of their respective cases over to the District Court. She is gathering statistics of the number of petitions for guardianships, minors, etc. to bring before legislation to show the amount of work the District Courts would be taking on. Commissioner Baldacci explained the aim of the bill would be to move the cases to District Courts which would be heard by full-time District Court Judges opposed to the part-time Probate Judges. The proposed transition would potentially require counties to combine their services forming a District Court region (i.e. Penobscot and Piscataquis). Renee commented she is unsure of how the District Courts would even handle the transition logistically and that she is against the bill.
Radio Consultant RFP Bid Opening-
• Commissioner Baldacci opened up one bid for the county to hire a radio consultant for the PRCC department. The RFP’s is to examine the departments current infrastructure; discover any gaps in radio coverage; analyze the current system’s coverage map; look over the department’s licenses; and provide solutions on transitioning to an analog/digital simulcast system.
The one bid received is from Norm Boucher of New Hampshire. The proposal was structured that costs were not to exceed the below stated amounts and all anticipated expenses were included in the price proposal. The bid planned for three trips to Bangor. The aggregate amount of projected consulting fees and expenses were $12,650. If the consult required additional services the rates were as follows: Project Manager -$150/hr., Senior Specialist -$175/hr., and Senior Technical Consultant -$100/hr.
Commissioner Davis made a motion to take the bid under advisement. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Commissioner Baldacci asked PRCC department head Chad LaBree to verify that the bid covered all the terms as stated in the RFP. Administrator Bill Collins asked Chad to insure that the bid included cost estimates for the consultants to visit all of the county’s tower locations and broadcasting sites since the bid only mentioned commuting to Bangor. Chad noted he would review the RFP and report back to ensure the other trips are included.
• Chad explained that the department held a training for all of the Fire Departments that PRCC services. Senior Operator Josh Lilley lead the training session which covered radio communication etiquette. Chad noted it went very well and that Josh did a great job. East Millinocket found the training so helpful they asked if the department would travel to East Millinocket and put on the training for the towns entire emergency response staff and mutual aid departments. Chad noted that they will invite other town’s emergency response departments. East Millinocket Fire Chief Les Brown offered to provide a BBQ for those who will attend.
• Chad commented that all but two members of the Passadumkeag Fire Department have quit. Howland and Greenbush departments will be covering calls in the meantime.
• Members of FEMA visited PRCC and had a good discussion with department employees in regards to the role dispatch plays in major disaster events.
• Chad recently visited the Orono Fire Department and discussed some ways to resolve some technical issues with their radio and broadcasting equipment. Chad plans on going out to visit other departments to see how things are going. Commissioner Davis suggested it would be a good idea to bring along dispatchers to provide insight to the training sessions from actual dispatch employees. Chad has planned on taking a couple of dispatchers.
• PRCC, Quality Assurance employees Tracey Erickson and Tina Morrison thanked the Commissioners for sending them down to a Navigators dispatch training conference in New Orleans. Tracey focused her conference sessions on topics of training dispatchers and the qualities to look for in dispatch employees. Tracey stated she learned ways that the department can improve our training techniques and to better manage a younger generation of workforce employees. She commented that dispatch centers across the nation testified that they are having similar challenges in finding good employees. Commissioner Davis and Tracey noted the big issues are retention and the work ethics of the younger workforce. Commissioner Davis suggested that when Tracey
presents the new techniques that she record the presentation so that all of the new points won’t be lost. He also mentioned that Chad and Tracey should invite other Maine County Dispatch Centers to attend when they present these new techniques to their dispatchers.
• Tina stated she attended all of the conference’s “Q” lectures. She felt she garnered a much bigger understanding and the importance of her position to aid dispatchers to reach and maintain policies, protocols, goals, awareness, and efficiency. Commissioner Baldacci thanked Tracey and Tina for sharing their experiences and stressed the importance of implementing into action the things they learned into their work areas.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter at 9:26 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (A). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Chad LaBree, Finance Director Judy Alexander, and Treasurer Dan Tremble, who arrived partway through the meeting, were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 9:55 am with no votes taken.
• Administrator Bill Collins reminded the Commissioners that in last week’s meeting he distributed a list of applicants who applied for the MCCA’s Executive Director Position. The list has grown to 24 applicants and Commissioner Baldacci added that interim Executive Director, Charlie Pray, has applied.
• Last Wednesday Bill and Sheriff Troy Morton attended the legislative work session in regards to LD-1266. The proposed bill establishes the process for transferring county jail facilities and operational responsibilities to the State as of July 1, 2020. Bill shared that he testified against the bill. Bill summarized that one speaker gave an analogy of how she is concerned that the State won’t pay its’ promised share of the Financial undertaking of the project. Members of legislation noted that the State has not done a financial analysis of what it would cost the State to take over the Jail, transfer County employees to State, and what the infrastructure costs for the transition would be. Bill testified in the session how some States charge a lodging tax for an additional jail revenue stream to support their jails. Bill noted that if the State refuses to provide adequate funding for the jail, and does not allow counties to raise their taxes locally, then they must allow counties to create new revenue streams to fund jails. Representative Neadeau noted that she felt the committee would be in favor of a lodging tax. Bill visited with another representative after the hearing who shared that She would be against the lodging tax. Her fear was that the tax would fall mostly on Maine residents who vacation throughout the State. Bill added that MCCA executive director Charlie Pray has been researching States that allow Jails other revenue streams. Bill reviewed how expensive the takeover was projected to cost when the State considered the transition in 2008. Bill commented that legislators should focus at the dollar impact of raising taxes and not be consumed by the percentage. The Commissioners thanked and commended Bill for testifying on their behalf.
• Bill notified George Burgoyne of the State Democratic Rule Committee that they can use the Commissioners’ room on Sunday, May 7th. Commissioner Davis added that the room would be available to committees of any party lines if they were to request its use.
• Kennebec Behavior Health notified Bill that as of June 30th they will no longer be renting office space from the County. Commissioner Baldacci asked Bill to reach out to any other agencies tied into the county to see if they’d be interested in renting the vacated space.
• Bill announced that the county officially acquired the 127 Hammond Street, Bangor Maine property as of Thursday April 20th. After the closing Maintenance Head Cap Ayer and Building Mechanic Terry Sullivan changed all of the locks to the building. Bill gave WABI TV 5 and Judy Alexander of Bangor Daily News a tour of the building. Bill stated that the former tenants of the building, Young’s MMA have temporarily relocated to Great Skates and the Church to the Bangor Mall respectively. Bill explained Cap and Terry have been allowing members of Citi Reach Church to continue to retrieve/cleanup items of theirs that were left behind post-closing.
• Bill informed the Commissioners that Brookings & Smith Funeral Home has asked if the county would allow overflow parking lot on the former Y property for an upcoming funeral at the Hammond Street church. Bill said they could use the parking lot as long as the public knew they would be parking at their own risk.
• Bill was alerted that a gentlemen dumped trash out behind the new Y parking lot near the 127 Hammond Street property. Bill stated he is not sure if the land where the trash was thrown is within the county’s property lines. Commissioner Baldacci suggested that the County hire a surveyor to verify where the boundary lines lie in regards to the general space where the trash was placed. Commissioner Davis suggested that Bill contact the Lovely Estate to see if the county can review any old surveys done for that plot of land. Jim Ring, member of the Public commented that the county should verify with our Deeds department to see if the boundary line can be discovered by simply reading the details of the deed.
• Bill communicated that an ADA’s car parked on Court Street was broken into last week. The suspect threw a rock into the car’s side window and stole property that was located inside.
• The County’s Attorney Ed Bearor is currently on vacation and would like to meet with the Commissioners upon his return.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a contract matter at 10:20 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Finance Director Judy Alexander, Treasurer Dan Tremble, and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 10:47 am.
Administrative Update Continued-
• Commissioner Davis made a motion to support hiring Jim Ring to work as a consultant for the County as proceeds to explore the future use of the former Y property at $ 50 per hour. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0.
• Administrator Collins and Finance Director Judy Alexander have met to discuss the County’s cash flow going forward. Bill has asked her to provide weekly updates to him and the Commissioners. Judy commented that the county did borrow an additional one million dollars to help cover any maintenance and short term projects that need to be readily addressed. Commissioner Baldacci noted that for a recent Sheriff’s Office remodel the county set up an additional bank account to accurately track expenses paid out for the project. Judy responded that she has setup a reserve account so that expenses will be tracked. She added she can report to the Commissioners every quarter or upon request the expenditures totals. Treasurer Dan Tremble commented that he believes a significant hit to the county’s cash flow is the boarding costs that we are now paying out to other jails. Judy agreed noting we are paying roughly thirty thousand dollars per month in boarding. Judy stressed the importance to measure our cash levels. Bill noted that he and Judy may alert department heads in delaying significant purchases unless they are needed in the immediate future. Commissioner Baldacci expounded the primary focus needs to be how we can lower the number of boards the county is sending/paying out.
• Tracey Erickson, Chair of the Wellness Center Committee, asked Bill if he would relay the following questions to the Commissioners. Tracey wanted to know if ADA’s in the District Attorney’s Office, and the employees in Probation and Parole would be allowed to use the County’s Wellness Center. The Commissioners commented that they were fine with allowing those employees to use the center.
• Bill stated he attended former Penobscot County Commissioner and Bangor Mayor John Mooney’s wake and signed in as a representative of Penobscot County.
• District Attorney Chris Almy stopped in the meeting and stated he recently moved an inmate in the county’s jail who had served 164 days. Chris explained it’s difficult to move inmates out of the jail at times due to the number of appeals inmates make in order to stall being transferred to the state prison. Commissioner Baldacci expressed hope that the department’s ADAs would make reasonable offers sooner so inmates would speed up plea deals.
• Bill commented that two jail employees are in the process of filing grievances against the department.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for $ 212,803.82
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for $ 239,801.20
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: None
• Payroll change notice signed for: Kelly Fennelly – Hired. Michael Jandreau, Kenneth Spaulding III, and James Williams Jr.
• Compensation notice signed for: None
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:10 am with no further business on the agenda.
Penobscot County Administrator
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Thomas J. Davis, Jr., Commissioner