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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes October 10th, 2017 #2158
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Tom Davis, and Laura Sanborn 60°
Approval of Minutes-
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the September 26th, 2017 minutes. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Sheriff’s Department Update-
• Sheriff Troy Morton noted that the population in the jail is currently 212 inmates (182 males, 30 females) with 49 boarded out to other jails; 28 of those at Cumberland County. Sheriff noted that there are 73 in Pre-Trial Services and there is one federal inmate. Troy expressed that he has released every possible person he legally can. He has been writing letters to the DA’s office and meeting with courts to try to get the inmates who have been convicted but not sentenced out. Troy noted we have 33 inmates with special diets. While this isn’t a significant added cost to the budget, it is another example of added workload and hurdles the surging population presents.
• Local citizen Harry Sanborn asked if the county is required by law to provide these specialized diets. Sheriff Morton responded that the DOC statutes regulates what meals or restrictions the county must accommodate. Mr. Sanborn suggested that the county provide a daily snapshot to the newspaper to inform the public of the dire population struggle we are experiencing. Sheriff Morton commented that may be a great idea to promote the county going out to bond for expansion, however he believed the update would not help the present overcrowding issue. Sheriff Morton believes the only present solution is to board more inmates out at other jail facilities. Troy asked if the county if jails like Cumberland and Skowhegan would possibly make an agreement to house more of our inmates. Administrator Bill Collins added there are two pertinent problems with the overcrowding crisis. The first is the county doesn’t even have a budget that would allow for any significant changes since we are operating on a deficit. Boarding out more inmates would just compound the budget problem. The second issue is that Maine statute does not allow the county to raise additional funds for the jail. Sheriff concluded that he is very concerned of the liability for the safety of county workers and inmates due to overcrowding. Commissioner Baldacci agreed that it is important to keep the press informed the best we can.
• Sheriff explained that a firm from Portland that the department has had some trouble collecting servicing fees from, has no ties to a local legal firm the county uses for advice.
• The department and Bangor PD have recently solved three commercial burglaries in the area.
• Bill and Troy have reviewed the classification of the department’s essential employees. They have shared their recommendations with the Commissioners. Bill has asked Troy to share with them the Commissioners his recommendations for which employees should be considered essential. The Commissioners will review and make a decision.
• Sheriff Morton held another meeting to discuss the Towing situation that he has received chronic complaints from citizens on. Troy is close to presenting the Commissioners with possible options and solutions to help address their concerns.
Unorganized Territory Update-
• UT Director Barbara Veilleux presented that the pavement reclaim project in Mattamiscontis is finishing up this week. Deputy Director George Buswell hopes to share photos of the project with the Commissioners at next week’s meeting.
• Barbara stated that DOT has reached out to her seeking a letter of support from the Commissioners for a TIGER grant to replace three bridges (West Branch Bridge in IP3, Mattawamkeag Bridge in Mattawamkeag, and the Pleasant River Bridge in Milo). Commissioner Davis made a motion to support the TIGER grant and sign a letter of support. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Letter signed.
• Barbara informed the Commissioners that there will be a meeting next week to discuss the feasibility of creating a solid waste hauling district. She and George have sent out invitations to twenty towns that lie within a twenty mile radius of Bangor to participate. Ten have responded that they would like to attend.
Unorganized Territory Budget Presentation-
• Barbara presented the UT budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year (July 1st – June 30th). She began by stating the budget’s appropriations were three dollars more than last year.
• The most significant expense increase this year was for snow removal. Barbara noted this was just the annual contract increases with the county’s snow removal vendors.
• Barbara has added some extra funds for the department’s on-call fire protections billing. The UT experienced significantly more structure fires this year as compared to past years. $5,000 was added ($10,000 vs $5,000) to the department’s Truck Replacement line (Capital Reserves) since the current reserve account only has $10,000 and the department’s truck has over $100,000 miles on it. Barbara also increased the Road Construction contribution ($80,000 vs $30,285) due to a lot of road work done this year to the UT’s roads. The department has a 10 year road construction plan and she likes to keep a year or two of project funds in reserves in the event prices are good and more projects can be done in one year versus another.
• The paving budget was decreased this year due to the better than planned paving prices the department paid for this year.
• The Salt Shed reserve account has roughly $110,000. Barbara reduced the budget for next year ($0 from $60,000) as we only have one remaining roof to replace in the future. The Commissioners and Bill suggested not entirely removing the funding in the event funds are needed for unforeseen repairs. The Commissioners suggested budgeting $10,000.
• Barbara then explained she kept the department’s excise tax revenue the same at $215,000. The Commissioners agreed. Barbara added that there will be no PERC reimbursements in the budget since the contracts do not call for any for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
• As the budget stood before any suggested changes, the UT Budget cap was 18.12% and the assessed increase for the budget came in at 6.54%. Leaving the UT department under the cap by 11.58%. Considering the changes recommended in the presentation, Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve the UT Budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Unorganized Territory Administrative Budget (Dept. 14) Presentation-
• Barbara then presented the UT Administration budget for the 2018 year. She began by explaining that the payroll and payroll benefits lines show an increase due to a recent raise given out in the department.
• Barbara noted that she has adjusted her postage expense line ($900 vs $750 in 2017) to better reflect the volume of mail being sent out.
• The Periodicals & Subscription line has increased by $150 ($500 vs $350).
• Barbara expressed that she would like to purchase new chars and desks since they will be moving up to the 3rd floor in the near future. She is unsure if the current furniture will survive the transition. Barbara also noted that the conference room on the 3rd floor will need some chairs and she would like to transfer funds out of the department’s photocopier reserve. The department recently leased a new copier and based on the usage she doesn’t foresee needing another copier for some time. The reserve account currently has $8,800 in it. She would like to withdraw approximately $2,500 for the purchase. Commissioner Baldacci suggested transferring $3,000 to cover all the purchases. Commissioner Sanborn motioned to approve the $3,000 transfer of copier reserve funds to purchase new office equipment. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Bill noted that before the suggested changes, the budget reflected a 3.7% increase. Commissioner Davis then made a motion to approve the UT Administration Budget for the 2018 fiscal year. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion.
Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Cooperative Extension (Dept. 35) Budget Presentation-
• Theresa Tilton, Administrative Support Supervisor, and Barbara Baker, Associate Extension Professor, both of the UMaine Cooperative Extension presented their program’s budget request for the 2018 year. Theresa stated that the extension is requesting a 4% budget increase ($72,782 vs $69,982). She explained that the University of Maine gave a 2% cost of living wage adjustment and the other 2% is for increases to the organization’s office supplies, copiers, and other general expenses. Theresa then presented an update and overview of the programs and events the extension has put on or taken part in during the year. Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the Cooperative Extension’s budget request of $72,782. Commissioner Davis seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. The Commissioners and Bill commended the program for their work with the county’s citizens.
State & Local Tax Resolve Discussion-
• Administrator Bill Collins presented a draft letter/resolve expressing opposition to a potential federal tax code change. The proposed modification would eliminate a tax payers’ ability to deduct their State and Local Income Tax on their federal tax returns. Commissioner Davis felt that the county should not express commitment to supporting or opposing the matter since it is a federal government issue. Commissioner Baldacci felt the presented change is not a partisan issue and that the modification if passed would be an added tax burden to all of Penobscot county’s property tax owners and wage earners. Commissioner Baldacci added that the MCCA plans on voting on a stance on the topic at this week’s meeting. The Commissioners decided to postpone a vote until next week once the Maine County Commissioners have weighed in.
• Commissioner Davis expressed concern for the upcoming proposed PRCC tower and technology upgrade which could cost the county a significant amount of money. Commissioner Baldacci noted the matter will have to be investigated further before a decision could be rendered.
• Commissioner Sanborn then left the meeting at 10:05 am for an appointment.
Administrative Update -
• Administrator Bill Collins presented that Malcolm Ulmer, of the MCCA Risk Pool, has asked if the county wishes that the newly acquired 127 Hammond Street Property be listed under the county’s or jail’s insurance policy. The Commissioners and Bill agreed the property should be under the county’s policy.
• Fred Michaud of the DOT informed Bill that he will come before the Commissioners at a later date to present an update on the proposed Rt. 9 / I395 connector.
• MCCA Director Charlie Pray is gathering data from Maine Counties to present to legislatures for supplemental jail funds. Scott Ferguson from Maine DOC requested why counties such as Penobscot are operating at such a large budget deficit. Bill recapped that it is very easy to answer. Our jail is rated to house 157, the state supplemental funding we received was based on an average daily population (ADP) of 173, and most likely our current ADP for this fiscal year is over 200. This coupled with the most the county can raise the jails funding from taxpayer’s is 4%, leaves us totally relying on the state to bridge the budget deficit gap with supplemental funding.
• Bill presented a document from DOC accepting the Sheriff’s corrective actions from a recent jail audit. The document is a certificate of occupancy for 157 inmates at our facility.
• Treasurer Dan Tremble asked what the recent concern was with adding a signee to write checks for the Workforce Investment Board. Finance Director Judy Alexander explained that right now only the NWDB Director Joanna Russell can sign off on checks. Judy has decided to wait until the funding crisis for the board is finalized before she proceeds with adding a signee. In regards to the funding crisis, Bill explained there was a letter sent to Governor LePage explaining the expense breakdown of the Board over the last few years. The letter was written to further explain and rebut the Governor’s claim that the board’s administrative expenses are too high in comparison of their funds devoted to training. The letter clarified that there were operational expenses included in the Governor’s critique of the board’s high administrative expense claims. Bill commented that it is his understanding that letters have been sent out to employees of state’s southern boards notifying them of potential layoff. It is believed that Joanna has done the same for our board but Bill will follow up with her to be sure. Judy has spoken to the contact for the board’s funding and has been told that the funds for the month of October will be drawn down to cover October’s payroll. If the funding is cut off by the Governor at the end of the month, the county would be held liable for any unemployment costs. Commissioner Davis added that the four other counties that the board services should help us with the unemployment expense.
• The RFP Ad for the county’s used Sheriff’s Department Vehicles has been posted in the paper and on the county’s website.
• Commissioner Davis noted that since cement barriers have been placed in the county’s recently acquired “YMCA” parking lot, it has appeared to help keep vehicles parking in the lot without permission.
• The county’s contractor that is renovating the county’s main building 3rd floor said there would be no issue if the Sheriff holds their MSA meeting in the great room on the 19th. Bill will follow up as the meeting day approaches.
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 210,511.04
• Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $ 38,103.70
• Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for: None
• Payroll change notice signed for: Kevin Brokaw, Tracy Hall, Amy McCrea, Jeanne Orcutt, Brittany Robertson, and Michelle Tanguay.
• Compensation notice signed for: None
Public Comment- None
Executive Session – Commissioner Davis motioned to go into Executive Session to discuss a personnel matter at 10:30 am under 1 MRSA §405 (6) (A). Commissioner Baldacci seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 2-0. Commissioners Baldacci and Davis, Administrator Bill Collins, Treasurer Dan Tremble, and Administrative Assistant Tyler Thompson were in attendance. Executive Session ended at 11:00 am with no votes taken.
Meeting Adjourned- The meeting was adjourned at 11:01 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