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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes October 3rd, 2017 #2157
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn 45°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the September 12th and 19th, 2017 minutes. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• Department Head Barbara Veilleux and Deputy Director George Buswell presented the plowing contract of Mattamiscontis TWP with the Town of Chester. Barbara noted that the plowing rate has remained the same and the sanding cost was reduced compared to the previous contract. The contract’s term is for two years (2017-2019). Commissioner Davis motioned to approve the two year contract. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• The Mattamiscontis Pavement Reclaim Project will begin this Thursday.
• George explained he would like to grade some of the Territory’s roads but wishes to wait until our area gets some rain.
• We received a letter from PERC encouraging the county to exercise a “Put Option” with MRC. This would mean the county would be paid out their portion of the partnership agreement. The Commissioners and Barbara had discussed continuing to be a partner in a previous meeting. Barbara called Gary Stacy of PERC to inquire about the letter. Mr. Stacy encouraged Barbara to hold off for now and he will get back to her with any pertinent information.
• Discussion then ensued on the process of the UT’s TIF Loan and Grant application. Barbara explained that based on previous meetings and the decision(s) made in the TIF Committee meetings the process was planned to be as follows. First the TIF Committee reviews all applications (Grants or Loans) to see if the application meets the Fund’s requirements. Next the applications would be sent to Maine Stream Finance (the bid winner for the TIF Financial service). They would vet each applicant for pertinent financial requirements. Maine Stream Finance then complies a scoring system for each applicant and sends that information back to the Commissioners who then make any final decisions of whom to give loans or grants. The Commissioners agreed on this process. Commissioner Davis was initially concerned that the TIF committee would be spending too much time during the process. Barbara and George explained this is why they would only have quarterly TIF Committee meetings and the rest of the work/conferencing can be done by email.
• Administrator Bill Collins presented that he was recently contacted by Maine DOT asking if the county would express support for the Route 9/I-395 Connector that plans to be constructed in the Brewer/Eddington area. Commissioner Baldacci replied that the Commissioners should have an update of where the project is at before any express of support is made. Bill noted he would the DOT for an update.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton reported today’s inmate count at the jail continues to be at near crisis levels. The numbers were as follows: 219 inmates (188 males, 31 females) with 36 boarded out to other county jails (15 at Cumberland County). Sheriff explained it is becoming difficult to even send more inmates out. A high number of inmates are pre-trial, very sick, high security, or needed here as trustees. Sheriff said while it is a big expense, the jail needs to move as many inmates who are eligible out of the jail so the facility can be at a more manageable number. The Commissioners agreed.
• Troy then asked if the Commissioners would be ok proceeding to bid out the jail’s medical contract. The current vendor just had two more nurses give their notice. Troy is fearful that the vendor will not be able to remain properly staffed until their contract expires. A lot of the administrative duties of ordering meds and supplies have now fallen on our staff in the interim period until more nurses are hired. Troy noted that he would still like to extend the vendor’s contract to January 31st 2018 to allow them time to fix the staffing needs but still proceed with a bid. Commissioner Davis motioned to extend CHP’s contract until January 31st 2018 but allow Troy to begin the RFP process for the service. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Troy noted that CHP would inform him if the vendor is forced to hire a more expensive nurse to replace the vacant positions.
• The Sheriff expressed his disappointment of the lack of progress in building a “step-down Psychiatric Center” in Bangor. He believes the center would benefit the jail immensely since it would open up an opportunity to send mentally disabled inmates out of jail and into more proper psychiatric care.
• Sheriff Morton has contacted Ann Jordan and Chief Justice Saufley to ask them relook at the law regarding warrants for unpaid fines. Troy recently housed individuals at the jail who were brought in all weekend for an unpaid fine. He feels it is foolish for the county tax payers to spend money on housing and medical expenses for such cases with very small bail amounts.
• Sheriff Morton explained that the department and ICE has had an agreement the past few years that they will not bring illegal immigrants into the jail due to our overcrowding concerns.
• Troy presented statistics in regards to serving civil papers requested during last week’s Budget Presentation. The department’s two full time employees have served 2,723 papers as of year to date. The department’s part-time employees have respectively served 2,773 in that time span. Troy explained the issue with the department just adding another full-time employees is that over 800 of those papers were served in the northern portion of the county, and roughly 1,000 at the southern tip of the county. There are 112 different types of papers served and the county garners anywhere from $1 to $10 from papers that part-time employees serve ($3 from DHHS papers). Troy also stated the increase in the computer services line for Department 12 was from our county’s IT department charging us our share of the county’s internet services.
• WABI TV-5 recently put on a “Kickoff with a Cop” event at a Husson University football game. Troy stated the event went very well and praised Husson and WABI for holding the occasion.
• The Sheriff’s department recently assisted in a fatal crash in Woodville.
• There is a MSA meeting Thursday October 19th on campus. Troy invited the Commissioners if they wish to attend.
• Commissioner Baldacci and Bill explained that Charlie Pray of the MCCA has reported that there is going to be no guarantee of supplemental funding for county jails. Bill and Finance Director Judy Alexander have shared that we have projected a $953,000 shortfall for this year. Bill and Judy are providing all these numbers to the DOC in hopes that they have all the financial information they need in time for legislature to consider supplemental funding. Bill noted he is concerned that we are boarding more people then we have budgeted.
EMA Department 3 Budget Presentation-
• Department Head Michelle Tanguay presented the EMA Department Budget for the 2018 year. She noted the only line item that changed (other than payroll items that are adjusted for pay steps and benefits) was the Office Rent Account. The account was increased $1,650 (total $21,450) to include some closet space that was not accounted for when the rent was prorated based on the additional square footage.
• She noted the budget also includes the promotion of the Deputy Director position which is to go into effect January 1st, 2018.
• Based on the recent mass casualty event in Las Vegas, Commissioner Baldacci asked Michelle if the State of Maine is looking at any areas to improve in regards to emergency response. Michelle replied that public education & situational awareness/training are aspects that the State is always looking to progress. She explained that after a mass casualty experience, the event is reviewed and lessons to be learned are then passed onto local emergency response agencies.
• Commissioner Baldacci noted that the State EMA Funds remain budgeted at $85,000. The 2018 and 2017 projection was decreased compared to the 2016 Budget at $90,000. Michelle explained this was because in last year’s budget the revenue was decreased and allocated to PRCC’s budget to better reflect her department’s actual expenditures.
• Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve the EMA Department 3 Budget request. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
PRCC Department 4 Budget Presentation-
• Department Head Chad LaBree presented the PRCC Budget for the year 2018. Chad began by explaining that the center expects their call volume to increase nearly 50% due to the acquisition of the City of Bangor’s PSAP services (Bangor will retain their dispatch service). Due to the large increase in call volume and work load Chad has budgeted six new call-taker positions to be added to next year’s payroll. Three of the positions will be hired for in January of 2018, and the other three in June (the planned start date of the transition). The added payroll results in an approximate $400,000 (11.5%) increase compared to the 2017 budgeted payroll expenses. Chad asked the Commissioners to consider adding a Deputy Director position for the department. Chad presented the cost breakdown of the potential addition and the Commissioners responded that they would keep the request in mind. Chad noted he has run by the idea with the union and will be meeting with them in the near future. The Commissioners asked Chad to report back to them once he has met with the union on the matter.
• Chad noted that the department’s Rental of Land account was increased by $2,500 ($74,500 total) due to contractual term increases.
• Chad presented the Commissioners with the final report that has been done to analyze the department’s current radio and tower infrastructure. Chad plans on meeting with the consulting agency on October 17th and he will report back to the Commissioners the findings.
• Commissioner Davis motioned to approve the PRCC 2018 Budget. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Chad and the Commissioners discussed how the city of Bangor and Chad have been notifying other towns of how the county’s tax payers have benefited greatly financially from Bangor having their own PSAP service in the past.
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented two Representation Letters on behalf of Chester Kearney Accountant firm. The letters state the auditor’s actions and cost of the Corrections’ Fund and Unorganized Territory Audits ($3,500 apiece). Commissioner
Sanborn made a motion to approve the agreement with Chester Kearney for both audits. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners signed both letters.
• Judy then presented the county audit that was also completed by Chester Kearney for the 2017 Calendar Year. Judy highlighted that there was a $480,000 decrease in the undesignated fund balance in large part due to the $825,000 purchase of county property. Judy explained those funds can be replenished once and if the county goes out to bond. Judy noted that the county’s Maine State Retirement Pension Liability (via GASB 68) has increased approximately 6%. Judy was happy to report that there were no material findings and the firm has given a clean audit of the county’s accounts with no changes recommended. Treasurer Dan Tremble asked if the county’s auditors would also come in and present their findings once they conclude and present the jail and UT audit later in the year. The Commissioners agreed.
• Judy then presented a snapshot of the county’s financials through the end of September (75% of fiscal year). Judy noted that the county’s expenditures are under budget for the year to this point. Judy stated that the county also just received a $9,700 Gas Tax Reimbursement. Commissioner Baldacci asked why the county’s investment interest income is down in an interest rate climate that has been rising. Judy answered it was due to the county’s cash flow being lower than in previous years. Judy noted that the Unorganized Territory revenue is down but that the 3rd Quarter Income has not been collected yet.
• Judy presented the reserve accounts breakdown and will revisit the balances once the county gets closer to its year end.
• The county’s TAN balance is at $2.1 million.
• The UMaine Cooperative Extension will be presenting their budget at next week’s Commissioners’ Meeting.
• Judy has updated Department 3 (EMA) and 4 (PRCC) health insurance rates to reflect the Commissioners suggested adjustments. She will also be updating the departments’ respective worker’s comp expense line due to premium increases for next year.
• Judy noted that the Commissioners needed to sign a Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) and decide if they would like her to complete the report. Judy felt we don’t currently have the resources for the report to be completed at this time and the request is not mandatory. The Commissioners agreed. Commissioner Davis motioned to forego completing the report. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Report signed as noted.
Registry of Deeds Update-
• Register of Deeds Susan Bulay presented an update on the new changes of how Transfer Taxes are filed. Maine Revenue just recently adopted a rule that requires law firms that file over 200 transfer tax forms during the calendar year 2016, to file Transfer Tax forms electronically in 2017. This transition will phase out over a 5 year span and at then of that period require any firms that file over 10 forms per year, to submit them electronically. Susan then presented the Commissioners a letter from the Maine Registry of Deeds Association written to the MCCA. The letter outlines the association’s fear that once this 5 year phase out period ends, Maine revenue will attempt to disallow Maine Registries from collecting their current revenue share on the Transfer Tax transaction (10% of Transfer Tax). This change of revenue sharing would have to be supported by a new statute. The potential effect on the county would be a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the statute were to be created and approved, the lack of revenue would be shifted onto the county’s taxpayers.
Matagamon Lake Project-
• Citizen Dick Hansen introduced Donald Dudley (Secretary/Treasurer of the Matagamon Lake Association), Joe Christiansen (Matagamon Lake Area Resident), & Nels Kramer (Regional Fish Biologist – Penobscot Region). Donald began the presentation by giving a thorough overview of the Matagamon Lake Dam, Piers, and Dikes associated with maintaining the First and Second Lake of the Grand Matagamon Lake Region. Due to the age of the dam (1940), piers, and dikes the association has done numerous maintenance projects over the past few decades. The vast portion of the materials and labor have been donated by Maine residents/businesses who have an appreciation for the region. Donald explained that in 2014 an engineering study was completed which revealed the need for some repairs to keep the dam operable and safe for the structure continue its function. Donald had estimates done last year which revealed the first phase of repairs would cost approximately $144,000. He would have to verify if metal prices have changed over the last year to see if the quote would be different. Donald noted that the Association currently has $42,000 in their account, leaving them to raise approximately $100,000 for the project. Donald then presented pictures of what the surrounding lake region looked like when the lake was lowered years ago for previous repairs. He stated that if there was no dam the water level would drop approximately an additional two feet as compared to the pictures. The pictures revealed thousands of acres of mud flats and diminished lake and river water levels. The two lakes that the dam holds were then totally separated by mud flats via the low water levels.
• Mr. Kramer commented that next year the State has a bridge project just south of the dam that requires the lake to be lowered again for the repairs. It would be very advantageous to do both projects at the same time since the water levels would already be lowered.
• The Commissioners all expressed support for the project due to the resource it provides for many local residents and outdoor enthusiasts that travel to the region. As the Association’s website explains, “The operation of Matagamon Dam is essential to the cold-water ecosystem; supporting a high quality sport fishery in the East Branch system. Regulating the flows in the East Branch have been critical to the rehabilitation of the wild brook trout, landlocked and Atlantic salmon. Stable, regulated water levels in the lake are necessary for a self-sustaining lake trout population, and maintaining waterfowl nursery.”
• Commissioner Baldacci asked if the association has looked into any Conservation Groups or Federal Funding for help with the project. Donald responded that due to the recent national movement against dams, he doesn’t believe any funding will be available for the repairs. Discussion ensued though encouraging Donald to consider contacting Federal Conservation Groups since the Dam is on a lake and feeding multiple rivers, and already possess a fish step allowing fish to pass from the lake to the river. UT Deputy Director George Buswell commented that he has worked extensively with the Nature Conservancy with recent county culvert projects and he would be glad to offer any assistance on the matter.
• The Commissioners stated that they would be very supportive of the project to the extent of $100,000, but would like to have the Association contact banks to see if they would loan the money and allow the county guarantee the payments. Commissioner Baldacci also mentioned providing a low interest loan from the UT TIF Fund and have the county guarantee the payments, depending on how the Commissioners decide the best avenue to assist the project. Donald noted that the association would look into these lending avenues and continue with the TIF application once the application has been finalized by the TIF committee. The gentlemen all thanked the Commissioners.
• Administrator Bill Collins informed the Commissioners that a citizen has reached to the Administrative Office for assistance with a tax abatement request. Bill and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson have informed the concerned citizen that since the town in which they reside has a board of appeals, the county would not be their avenue of appeal. The citizen none the less forwarded their abatement and all other documentation to the County even though we directed the individual on multiple occasions the right avenue to express their concern. Bill contacted the town manager and assessor of this issue. Bill asked if the Commissioners wish for any further steps to be taken. Commissioner Baldacci commented to keep directing the individual where to express her complaints and to document the interaction.
• Bill noted that renovations to the county’s third floor office space have begun.
• City of Bangor Manager Cathy Conlow sent a letter to area town managers explaining Bangor’s PSAP service transition to the county’s PRCC. The letter explained that Bangor has carried roughly 25% of the tax burden for the county’s services, but the City has never used PRCC’s services since the department came into existence.
• Northeastern Workforce Development Board (NWDB) Director Joanna Russell arrived at the meeting and gave an update of where the NWDB funding is. The board has been in a funding crisis with Governor Paul LePage in recent months as to whether the board will be taken over by the State, or be allowed to exist as an independent workforce board. Joanna explained that Governor LePage has stated that $7.5 million of the $10 million Statewide Workforce Board’s funding is going to administrative expenses. Joanna feels that this is not a clean number and is working to express that in a rebuttal letter to the Governor. The Commissioners encouraged Joanna to collect the board’s numbers and disprove his expense claim. Commissioner Baldacci also encouraged Joanna to keep the media accurately informed of the matter. Joanna is concerned that if no solution is found, she will not be able to draw down any more funds for her divisions’ board after October 31st. She asked the Commissioners if she should send out an official notice to her employees. The Commissioners answered that she should notify her staff that the board may be dissolving by October 31st if no resolutions are made with the State.
• The County’s Health Council has asked if the Commissioners would approve going out to bid to install showers in the county’s fitness facility. The county’s health insurance provider, Cigna, has designated $20,000 for the project but the verbal quotes the council had received are over $20,000. Cigna has offered to take funds out of the county’s health programs to cover the difference above $20,000. The Commissioners approved going out for an RFP to install two showers with one of them being handicap accessible.
• The Sheriff and Bill’s meeting with WBRC Engineer Rob Frank has been postponed to this week. The purpose of the meeting is to discuss the renovation of the county’s recently acquired property at 127 Hammond Street and to reevaluate the overcrowded jail facility.
• The Commissioners presented their selections for the county’s jail expansion committee. Commissioner Davis selected Jim Parker and Harry Sanborn, Commissioner Baldacci selected Brian Thibeau and Steve Rich, and Commissioner Sanborn’s selections were John Rouleau and Peggy Daigle. The Commissioners had previously approved Jim Ring to serve as the seventh member of the committee.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 213,940.18
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $ 949,724.36
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: $ 109,497.55
• Payroll change notice signed for: Patrick Knaide – Resignation Full-Time & Becoming Part-Time. Miscellaneous – Jonathan Chiasson, Steven Mann, Tyler Thompson, and Scott Worster.
• Compensation notice signed for: None.
Executive Session - Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter at 11:39 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (A). Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners, Treasurer Dan Tremble, Administrator Bill Collins, Finance Director Judy Alexander, and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson were in attendance. Judy Alexander left the meeting at 11:48am. Executive Session ended at 11:55am with no votes taken.
Public Comment- None
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:56 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