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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes May 16th, 2017 #2138
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn. 55°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve the May 9th, 2017 minutes. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Department Head Chad LaBree presented that he has followed up with Communications Design Consultant Group (Norm Boucher), who was awarded a recent PRCC consultancy bid. After reviewing the terms and conditions of the bid with the vendor, Chad feels comfortable that they will meet all requirements of the proposal. Commissioner Baldacci asked if the contract calls for the bid to be paid out in a lump sum or in installments. Chad responded that it is lump sum but noted the vendor did not specify at what point during the project the contracted price would be due. Chad stated the deliverables of the contract are $11,400 and the three trips to PRCC are $1,250. Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve the Communications Design Consultant Group’s contract. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Chad commented that a separate vendor had called asking why the recent Radio Proposal was already awarded to another vendor. The caller wished to bid on the services and said they had been monitoring the website for postings and meeting minutes but never saw the RFP. Chad stated that the RFP has not been removed from PRCC’s website since its original posting. He wonders if the caller had only been monitoring the county’s website as opposed to PRCC’s. Chad has called the vendor back but has not heard from them.
• Administrator Bill Collins stated that he and Chad had been brainstorming the potential office spaces to locate the new HR Director. In last week’s Commissioners’ meeting Bill had suggested using the PRCC training room on the 3rd floor as the location. Chad asked that if the current training room were to be relocated to the old court room, that enough time be granted to properly move the Data Lines, equipment, and re-model as to not interrupt the current day to day operations. Chad suggested possibly moving Tracey Erickson and Tina Morrison over to the old court room as well since they oversee the departments training and quality assurance. Bill explained that there are three possible office spaces that could be utilized in the court room. Bill noted that one office is currently being used by the IT department to store some old computers. Commissioner Baldacci expressed that since PRCC has plans to eventually move to the old court room that the transition should be well thought out in order to not have to move departments multiple times. Chad explained that there are three administrative offices currently in PRCC and there are three offices in the old court room. He concluded if the plan was to only transition once, the county should consider the locations of multiple departments including, Human Resource, Unorganized Territories, and the Finance Director. Bill noted he would like to have the new Human Resource employee hired in six to eight weeks. The Commissioners asked Chad to work with the before mentioned departments and bring back possible layouts for the discussed transition. Commissioner Baldacci asked Bill to follow up with IT Department Head Cliff Warren to get the computers cleaned out of the old court room.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Department Head Barbara Veilleux presented the Prentiss metal roofing contract with Larry Ham for signature. She reminded the Commissioners that they declined a five year warranty extension at last week’s meeting. Contract signed.
• Barbara notified the Commissioners that the City of Old Town is requesting a 2.25% increase for ambulance service to Argyle & Greenfield residents for the year 2018. She added that she felt the request was reasonable and total increase would amount to $163.20. Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the adjusted contract. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Deputy Director George Buswell commented that the spring sweeping jobs have been finished up. He stated that once the rains subside and the roads have hardened up the graders will be out smoothing over the roads. Administrator Bill Collins added he has received a few complaints about the amount of pot-holes on some of the UT’s roads. George explained that if the roads are graded right before heavy rains, it will do more harm than good for the long-term upkeep of the surface.
• Barbara added that she hopes to have the UT summer work plan completed over the next couple of weeks.
• Barbara reminded Commissioner Sanborn that there will be a public hearing on the request from the Seboeis Stream ATV Club to use the Mattamiscontis Road to connect to trails from Howland to Lincoln. The meeting will be at the Chester Town Office at 6:00pm on May 18th.
Sheriff’s Department update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton presented that the jail’s population is at 165 consisting of 131 males and 34 females. The jail has 23 currently boarded out at other county jails, only 2 or 3 of which are at Cumberland. There are 68 currently out on Maine Pre-Trial Services.
• Troy commended the courts for doing a better job of processing the dockets in a timelier manner. He feels this a result of pressure from legislators to aid the county jails with the population crisis. He hopes that this trend will continue. Sheriff Morton explained that while he his grateful for the high number of individuals in Pre-Trial, it does make it difficult to process them when they report back to jail. Troy stated that it is hard on jail’s clerical staff and he would love to brainstorm ideas of expanding that portion of the jail.
• Troy recently attended an Opiate Committee meeting in Augusta working on a project called The Rise Program. The committee has helped our jail with the Vivitrol medication program. The committee is attempting to get the budget approved to continue with the program. While down to the meeting Troy was able to speak with Governor LePage, Chief Justice Saufley, and Federal Secretary Tom Price. Troy felt that they were happy that our jail considers and implements a broad range of drug rehabilitation methods.
• Sheriff said that this week’s jail medications were around $8,000. He explained the bill is largely due to two inmates. Commissioner Davis asked if Troy has notified the DA’s office to speed up the processing of their cases. Sheriff Morton replied that his office for some time now has been sending lists of inmates to the DA’s office consisting of long length of stays and highlighting names with high med costs that the jail is holding. Treasurer Dan Tremble noted that at least the medication costs have dropped significantly from 6-10 years ago. Sheriff Morton added it is not easy for the DA’ Office to always come to agreements with Defense Attorneys since they ultimately work on behalf of the inmates. Thus it can be time consuming for the three parties to come to an agreement on a plea bargaining deals if the case doesn’t go to trial. Commissioner Baldacci expressed hopes the DA’s office can make more reasonable plea deals towards the beginning of the bargaining process to help move inmates more swiftly in and out of the jail system.
• Troy stated that the Sheriff’s Office assisted finding a lost man who had become disorientated driving through the woods. Troy applauded the Forest Service who spotted the lost vehicle with one of their department’s helicopters.
• Troy explained that one downside of the recent legalization of the Marijuana law is the department has received some resistance in inspecting grow operations where crimes have been possibly committed. Troy noted a recent case where the department believed a crime occurred on the premise of a grow operation. The owner of the operation though failed to press charges, make a complaint, or allow the police to inspect any of the grounds where the crime was likely committed.
• Sheriff has reached out to the National Institute for Corrections (NIC) for technical assistance with the upcoming considerations of expanding/remodeling the jail. Sheriff explained that most of their assistance is aimed in building brand new jail facilities vs remodels. Troy feels however that it would be wise to reach out to other organizations for how to best approach expanding or remodeling our current jail campus.
• Troy stated that all of the supplemental law enforcement contracts that the departments has with localities will expire at the end of June. Thus the department has been working on renewing and finalizing next year’s contracts. All of the towns that the department currently services wish to renew. The only exception is Milford who communicated they would like to review their current budget before finalizing their service contract. The town of Passadumkeag and Winn will be new additions to this years’ service list. The Sheriff explained that the Town of Enfield has also expressed interest but has not committed to a contract at this time.
• The Sheriff communicated that the county’s mental health contract has not gone out to bid since 1995. Troy has reached out to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for help creating the bid so that it accurately reflects the jail’s needs and goals. He stated he would like the bid specs to include an option to help service the jail on the weekends. The current contract only provides service on week days. Bill asked Troy to share with him the bid specs once he receives it back from NAMI and the Commissioners can review and provide input on it at that time.
• The Jail’s Educational Contract has recently expired. Sheriff complemented the Town of Hampden’s Adult Education department for their past work with the jail. The Sheriff will explore all of the county’s Adult Ed opportunities and will report back to the Commissioners if the service needs to go out to bid.
• A representative from CHP has been on campus to meet with the jail’s medical staff. Troy commended CHP for providing adequate staffing for the jail’s medical needs
• Troy appointed Jim Ellis as the new Lieutenant and William Birch as the new Chief Deputy. The department is still finalizing who will take over a training and clerical positions currently open at the jail.
• Bill shared with the Commissioners a letter drafted by the MCCA written to legislators on the Criminal Justice Committee. The letter stated that Maine Counties would need $16.4 million dollars in supplemental funds to satisfy all of Maine County’s jail budgets.
• Sheriff Morton explained that Finance Director Judy Alexander and Lieutenant Keith Hotaling have been working on next year’s jail budget. The Sheriff also had a chance to review the remainder of this year’s jail budget. Even though the jail is operating at a significant loss for the year, Troy was grateful the budget wasn’t off more than what he had expected considering the amount of boards that the county has had to pay.
• The Sheriff had a chance to meet with consultant Jim Ring whom the county hired for input for the expansion of the county’s campus. Troy had a chance to give Jim a tour of the intake and holding areas as well the laundry and kitchen spaces. Troy feels in order to alleviate the problems surrounding the overcrowding of the jail, the intake/holding/observation areas must be moved and/or expanded. Troy discussed with Jim different styles of cells that jails use around the country. Sheriff presented that he has researched dormitory like cell areas that other jails have built that provide for universal restroom and shower areas. These style cells eliminate the redundant cost of placing toilets/sinks in every cell. Commissioner Baldacci expressed the idea of the county just expanding the current booking area in the jail. Troy felt that after touring the current jail with Jim Ring, it would not be feasible from a structural point of view to expand the current space. Commissioner Baldacci noted it is important to still exhaust and examine all options.
Executive Session- Commissioner Sanborn motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a Legal matter at 10:03am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E) Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, Finance Director Judy Alexander, Sheriff Troy Morton, Interim Chief Deputy William Birch, and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 10:39am with no votes taken.
Finance Director update-
• Finance Director Judy Alexander stated the County’s auditors will be on campus next week.
• Judy has been working with Sheriff Morton and Lieutenant Hotaling on the jail’s budget for the fiscal year 2018-2019. They should have it finalized within the next couple of weeks to bring before the Commissioners for their review.
• Judy stated that the remaining balance of this year’s TAN is $3.15 million. Last year at this date the previous year’s TAN balance was nearly $500,000 less. Judy expressed she has been happy to see that the jail’s boarding bills have been considerably less than in previous months.
• Judy then presented a financial report for the county as of April 30th 2017. She noted that the jail has collected 80% of their projected revenue at this point in the year. While the jail’s budget is operating at a significant deficit, Judy explained that the county’s health insurance premiums have helped offset the shortfall. The county had budgeted health insurance premiums to increase by 10%, conversely the insurance premiums dropped 1%.
• Treasurer Dan Tremble asked if the Deeds department had times of year where they were busier and would take in more revenue. Commissioner Baldacci answered the trend is that there are more property sales from late spring to early fall, thus those months should reflect the highest revenue intake for the Deeds department.
• Judy commented that excluding the jail, all other department’s expenditures are either at or below their respective budgeted amounts. The only outlier is the IT department who had to purchase some expensive software early in the budget year. Judy is not concerned however since those expenditures were planned for in IT’s budget.
• Judy will be working on filling out the county’s Gas Tax Reimbursement Report in the coming weeks.
• Commissioner Baldacci said MCCA has narrowed their search for the full time Executive Director position to four applicants. Interim Executive Director Charley Pray is one of the four finalists. The MCCA is questioning whether the position should be year round or contractual.
• Commissioner Davis asked citizen Dick Hansen if he has discovered any more information in regards to the Matagamon Habitat Maintenance & Enhancement Project. Last week Dick presented information on behalf of the Project which aims to restore a dam and surrounding waterworks in the Matagamon region. Dick commented that he met recently with Amy Polyot of The Penobscot County Soil and Water Conservation District. Dick stated the Conservation recently helped Cold Stream Pond with a project and supported the venture financially. Dick also spoke with UT head Barbara Veilleux on the possibility of the Matagamon Lake Association applying for TIFF funds to help fund the venture. Once the TIFF committee finalizes the application, Dick will forward it onto the Lake Association and the Conservation. Dick commented that the Lake Association is not experienced with filling out grants, thus believes it would be helpful if they could receive some aid in that process. Commissioner Davis mentioned that possibly Amy could assist with the TIFF application and be a good resource for the association to ask Dick about more federal funding opportunities. The Commissioners expressed their willingness to help with the project by matching any state or federal funding that is given to the project.
• Bill informed the Commissioners that Maintenance Head Cap Ayer’s office is taking on water through the foundation. Cap is looking into options of fixing the leak.
• Claire Jamieson, USPS Postmistress, notified Bill that the Post Office’s designated parking spots have been consistently occupied by county employees. Bill issued a notice reminding county employees to not park in the Post Office’s designated spaces. Claire also called Cap asking whom she should notify if a pedestrian was struck in the driveway of the Post Office. Cap directed her to call the Bangor Police Department. Bill noted he will get a copy of the report once it is processed for the county to have on record.
• Commissioner Baldacci asked if the Post Office building had experienced any more water damage from the recent rains. Bill responded that the repairs that took place over the winter have held up so far.
• District Attorney Chris Almy has reminded Bill that the DA’s office has some spacing needs for a new hire.
• Bill communicated that the Commissioners have been invited to a luncheon put on by the Health Equity Alliance on May 24th. The luncheon will include a tour of the Health Equity Alliance complex.
• Bill notified the Commissioners that they received a notice of land seizures in the Dexter area for a road widening project.
• Bill forwarded news to the Commissioners that former Maine DOC Commissioner Chief Joseph Ponte has resigned from his current position as New York City Jail’s Chief.
• Bill informed the Commissioners that on May 30th the County’s deferred compensation VOYA representative Karon Noyes and Voya’s regional Vice President will be presenting some recent changes to their investment accounts.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 208,954.39
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $ 127,152.40
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: $ 17,308.10
• Payroll change notice signed for: None
• Compensation notice signed for: George Buswell – 14.75 hours.
Executive Session- Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a Legal matter at 11:08 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (E) Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0. The Commissioners, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 11:19am with no votes taken.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:20am with no further business on the agenda.
Penobscot County Administrator
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Thomas J. Davis, Jr., Commissioner