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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes August 22nd, 2017 #2151
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn 65°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Davis made a motion to approve the August 15th, 2017 minutes. Commissioner Baldacci seconded the motion as Commissioner Sanborn was absent last week. Vote to approve passed 2-0.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton reported the inmate count continues to be high. Today’s numbers were: 202 inmates (164 males, 38 females) with 29 boarded out to other county jails. The jail is housing one federal inmate and there are 74 individuals in Pre-Trial Services.
• The Sheriff has heard back from DOC Commissioners regarding the Variance Application. The application was submitted as a result of the recent jail audit by the DOC. Our variance was generic but described many of the processes the jail will take to address our large population. It included some long term outlines of the ways we hope to expand and counter the issues of overcrowding that were noted in the audit report. The DOC Commissioners have asked Sheriff Morton for a written response of why the County isn’t boarding more inmates at neighboring county jails. Troy stated he will respond by the budget/funding troubles the jail has been facing. Troy noted he will add to the response that the county is boarding out inmates at facilities, but are trying to not send boards to those facilities that charge upwards of $70/day.
• Troy noted he is very frustrated with the rates charged to have vehicles towed at crash scenes, field work, etc. He explained that the State of Maine has no towing regulations to limit what agencies can charge for most of their services. The only regulation that he knows of is there are limits to what wrecker companies can charge for vehicle storage but not for the actual towing service. Troy stated the current policy is that if an individual does not have a personal preference of who to use for a service, the department/deputy calls dispatch and dispatch uses a rotation to select a towing service. Sheriff believes many wrecker services being called out by the Sheriff’s Department charge exorbitant fees for their services. Troy then fields many complaints from citizens when they get their invoice. Troy would like to take these towing companies off of the rotation list. Commissioner Davis believes that Troy has every right to remove a company off of the rotation if they are not charging a fair fee. Commissioner Baldacci noted that there should be a set standard and/or guideline(s) to use in order to remove a vendor from the rotation list. Sheriff Morton explained another alternative would be to divide the county’s patrol areas into zones and go out to bid for each of those respective areas. Commissioner Baldacci stated that when towns/cities go out to bid for the towing service the locality actually receives a commission for the wrecker company to have exclusive rights for that area. Commissioner Baldacci and Administrator Bill Collins instructed Sheriff Morton to research the contracts that other localities have with Towing Companies for Towing and/or Storage services and to report back to the Commissioners his findings. Commissioner Baldacci asked Bill and Treasurer Dan Tremble to also research a feasible solution for the situation. Troy would also like to discuss in the future possibly either finding land to use for vehicle storage, or contracting a vendor to store vehicles that have been involved in crimes or fatality crashes as opposes to paying very high daily storage fees to wrecker companies.
• Sheriff stated that the jail recently had a stay of execution individual enter our facility. The next day the individual’s cellmate overdosed on heroin and had to be revitalized via NARCAN. The Sheriff commended the correction’s officer who found the overdosed inmate laying down and discovered that the individual needed medical assistance.
• The department’s employee BBQ will be held tomorrow at 5:30pm.
• Troy has received a lot of interest from individuals wishing to bid on cruisers that the department will be cycling out of service in the near future.
• A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for nurses at nearby colleges/universities to work with the jail’s medical provider (CHP) has been completed. CHP would like to present the MOU to the Commissioners for their review. Troy noted that even though the language of the MOU does not place any liability on the county he feels the Commissioners should have our legal counsel/insurance agency review the document.
• Troy asked Bill and the Commissioners for input on which employees should be classified as essential versus non-essential for days where the county closes due to weather or an unforeseen event. Commissioner Baldacci noted that they will provide input but that decision would ultimately be the Sheriff’s for his department.
• Bill was visited last week by Bob Thomas of the Maine Municipal Association. Mr. Thomas provided statistics of injuries at our jail compared to that of other Maine county jails. Mr. Thomas commented that our county’s claim history has more incidents than any other Maine county they insure. Bob asked if there is anything that can be done to minimize some of those accidents. The Commissioners recognized that some claims are unavoidable but there are many that the county can assign someone to look at to help minimize our accidents. Bill noted that the county’s premium rates are adjusted based on a three year history. He explained that based on our incidences from 2015-2017 he expects our rates to rise for the 2018 year. Sheriff Morton stated he is frustrated with the report due to the vast majority of his department’s incidences are from inmate (jail) or citizen (patrol) contact. Based on the nature of those services he cannot see ways to minimize those risks without entirely removing the human contact element of those jobs. Commissioner Baldacci reiterated that safety should be a priority at our facility. Our goal should be to further brainstorm ways to minimize occurrences. Bill noted that Captain Rick Clukey will be reaching out to other Maine county jails who have a better safety record than ours.
Jail Lighting Proposal-
• Maintenance Department Head Cap Ayer and Building Mechanic Terry Sullivan presented that three of the jail’s cell blocks, and the lights in a day area space are non-secured lighting fixtures. He would like to replace them. He would like to exchange the three cell blocks fixtures with maximum security type fixtures. The lights in the day area to be replaced with vandal-proof type lighting. Cap explained that over the years inmates have broken into the lights and have used pieces as “shanks”. Cap has reached out to some lighting supply companies and electricians for quotes on what swapping out the old type fixtures and what it would cost. Cap noted that Efficiency Maine is not giving out rebates for the fixtures but the county would receive a $5 rebate for each LED bulb we would purchase. Cap stated that we would need 33 fixtures and 66 bulbs to exchange. Sheriff Morton supports this venture but wants to know where the funding will come from for the conversion. Bill stated that he will talk with Finance Director Judith Alexander and will report back to Sheriff and Cap. Commissioner Baldacci and Davis directed Cap to ensure he reaches out to all the local supply and electrical companies for prices for the fixtures and installation before the Commissioners make a decision on the lighting.
• Cap has been in contact with the vendor who will be replacing the roof on the county’s “Post Office” building. They hope to begin the project mid-September. Cap and Bill also noted that the ad and RFP for the county’s 3rd floor office space remodel will go out this weekend.
• Sheriff Morton had secured brackets installed for some of the jail’s televisions. He has been very happy with the product.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Department Head Barbara Veilleux had previously contacted the DA’s Office for an opinion in regards to the legality of putting a lien on a property that the county had asked the owner to clean up their yard. The DA’s Office stated that the owner has to be officially summonsed for operating an illegal junk yard and then given an official date to clean up the said property. If the owner fails to do it in the allotted time the county can then place a lien on the property and/or fine the owner a daily charge until the property is picked up. Barbara noted the value of all the land and buildings would be roughly $25,000 and that the owner has made some improvement on picking up the yard. The Commissioners suggested that Barbara continue to communicate with the property owner to encourage the remainder of the clean-up, but to notify them that if progress ceases, the county will be forced to summons the owner and possibly place a lien on the land/buildings.
• Barbara and Deputy Director George Buswell are still inputting/collecting 911 addressing for some of the Territories. Barbara and the Commissioners discussed possible names for two unnamed roads in the Prentiss TWP territory. Commissioner Davis made a motion to name two roads Hickory Lane and Briarwood Lane in Prentiss TWP. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Barbara then presented two additional road requests. She recommended Angel Lane in Mattamiscontis TWP and Soper Brook Road in T6R8. Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the roads Angel Lane and Soper Brook Road in their respective territories. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Greenfield Paving project has been completed. Barbara and George stated that it came out nice.
• Barbara stated that five contractors have taken bids for the Greenfield Culvert Project. George commented that the pre-bid meeting went well and that all of the contractors understood the time frames in which the project needed to be completed. The bid opening will be during next Tuesday’s Commissioners’ Meeting.
• Barbara spoke with a gentlemen from Maine DOT in regards to the lack of center line paint on the Grand Lake Road near Mt. Chase. Barbara was told Maine DOT plans on striping the pavement from Mt. Chase to the Seboeis River. Barbara feels the road should be striped beyond what DOT plans to do. She would like to draft a letter asking DOT to extend the striping due to safety concerns from local area citizens that live beyond the river. The Commissioners agreed.
• Barbara presented that she and Bill attended the pre-bid meeting for the financial services for the County’s TIF Grants. She stated that there was good discussion of the procedures needed for the services. The bid opening will be next Tuesday, August 29th.
• George presented that many towns have expressed their concern that Casella Waste Systems has purchased many of the trash pick-up vendors in our area. In fear of Casella monopolizing the service, they have asked if the Commissioners would be interested in taking part in a meeting to discuss how towns can attract or better bid out to small vendors or the possibility of multiple towns forming their own trash hauling service. The Commissioners expressed full support of the idea. They told George to inform towns that the County would be interested in discussing ways that may benefit all.
• Finance Director Judith Alexander presented that the county has received roughly $ 1 million dollars of tax warrants to date from ten of the county’s localities.
• Judy stated that she has begun paying down the county’s TAN balance in order to lower the interest accumulating on the account.
• Judy communicated overall County revenues are up and the expenses are in line with the respective budgeted bench marks for this point of the year. Judy noted that the jail’s expenses exceeded their revenues by approx. $50,000 for the month of July. The department received their corrections funding at the beginning of August.
• Commissioner Baldacci noted that PRCC has roughly $600,000 in their reserve account. Judy explained that those funds are set aside for if/when the department transitions into a larger working space.
• Judy has been working on the County’s budget for the 2018 calendar year. She intends on presenting it to the Commissioners in two weeks and then have department heads subsequently present over the course of the weeks following.
Wellness Center Broken Equipment Discussion-
• A discussion ensued regarding the payment for a broken cable machine that the county had requested two individuals to pay since they were using it when it broke. Bill summarized that in last week’s meeting the Commissioners voted to split the $ 200 repair invoice with the individuals. The county employee involved asked if the Commissioners would reconsider charging them for half of the cost. As explained each of these individuals have invested a good amount of their time and money finding, setting up, and previously repairing some of the current machinery in the center. In summary of the mishap, they felt there was no violation of policy/gym rules or mischievous actions that caused the machine to break. Thus they should not be held responsible for paying the repair costs of the machine. A video of the incident was then played showing when the machine broke. Bill explained he felt the cable machine broke due to the individuals adding extra weights i.e. plates and a (dumbbell on top of the cable machine) for more resistance; when the weight(s) fell off it broke the cable line during their workout. Commissioner Sanborn and Baldacci agreed. The individual argued that a stopper on the cable machine broke first and the cable broke due to the weight falling afterwards. Commissioner Davis felt that there is not enough evidence to determine whether the cable pulley broke before the weight fell, thus the individuals should not be responsible for the repair. Commissioner Baldacci and Sanborn explained it was important to hold the individuals accountable for the mishap. They believe the individuals were negligent. The employee felt that since they were barred from the center for a month that should be a sufficient punishment seeing that there was no intentional action to break the machine. Commissioner Davis made a motion to reconsider the decision made at last week’s meeting of charging the individuals $ 100 for the repair. Commissioner Baldacci seconded the motion for the purpose of discussion. Vote was opposed 2-1 to reconsider last week’s vote, with Commissioner Davis as the lone vote for the motion. The employee thanked the Commissioners for their time. After the employee left Commissioner Davis noted that he would personally pay the $100 charge.
• Rick Merrithew from Stanley MacMillan’s Construction Company has contacted Bill to thank the Commissioners for allowing their use the county’s 127 Hammond Street parking lot as they made repairs/renovations to the city’s water/sewer lines on Hammond Street. Bill noted the company maintained the property’s landscape and has cleaned up the parking lot extensively since finishing the project. Rick has asked Bill if the Commissioners wish for MacMillan to bring in cement barriers at no cost to the county. The barriers would possibly be used to help close off the county’s parking lot that is currently not barricaded from the adjacent Bean Court. Commissioner Davis motioned to have MacMillan bring in the barriers and the county can decide where to place them at that time. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Bill has heard back from County Attorney Ed Bearor in regards to the tax bill from the City of Bangor for the 127 Hammond Street property. Ed informed that due to the timing of the closing the county is liable for the taxes on the building for this year. Bill noted the amount totals roughly $15,000.
• In last week’s meeting Bill suggested that the Commissioners keep in mind whom they would like to serve on our county’s jail expansion committee. Bill thought that seven members would be a good number. It would give the Commissioners a chance to each choose at least two members. Bill asked if the Commissioners would bring forth names of potential members in next week’s meeting. Treasurer Dan Tremble noted that Bangor Savings Bank is in the midst of planning a sizeable expansion and he will inquire if there are any individuals that they would recommend for our county’s committee.
• Bill has informed the Post Office that renovations to the building’s roof will commence around mid-September.
• Bill stated the Finance Director will begin scheduling department heads to present their budget to the Commissioners in future meetings. Judy noted she has only one more department to meet with.
• Judy and Bill have advertised for long time county employee DJ Bowden’s position. The ad will run internally to begin with and then will be posted outside of the county if needed.
• Bill reminded the Commissioners that there are two wage reopeners from two of the county’s labor unions and one new contract negotiation from another. Bill is waiting on each union to give dates to begin discussions.
• Earlier in the year the Commissioner approved the change of the retirement plan (plan 2C from AC) that patrol officers in the county’s law enforcement departments will take part in through Maine State Retirement System (MPERs). MPERs has just now forwarded the contract to Bill for him to sign. Commissioner Davis motioned to have Bill sign the contract on behalf of the Commissioners. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Contract signed.
• Bill stated that Maine DOT has asked permission to use MCCA’s logo on an upcoming standards report. Commissioner Baldacci stated he had emailed MCCA Executive Director Charlie Pray to Okay the request.
• Bill presented a draft letter written by UT Director Barbara Veilleux to Maine DOT asking them to extend the line striping beyond their initial planned stopping point on the Grand Lake Road. Okayed and signed.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 209,941.17
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $ 576,134.34
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: $ 29,917.45
• Payroll change notice signed for: James Ellis, Amy McCrea, Jeanne Orcutt, and Tyler Thompson.
• Compensation notice signed for: None
• The County’s Insurance Agent Dick Hansen received an email from a county employee asking if an employee’s child can use the county’s wellness center. The Commissioner stated that they had made a decision in a prior meeting to limit the wellness center use to county employees and their spouses only. Dick stated he would forward the information onto the employee.
Executive Session - Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter at 10:54 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 UT Director Barbara Veilleux were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 11:00 am.
Commissioner Tom Davis made a motion to approve increasing the Deputy UT Director wage by $ 1.00 effective September 04, 2017. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3 – 0.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:03 am 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