Penobscot County Commissioners' Minutes from April 2, 2019
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Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes April 2, 2019 2232 9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 36°
Concerned Citizens Update –
Larry Dansinger and Melissa Berky provided a statement of citizens interested in the planning process for future options.
The group is urging consideration to host a one-day long range planning session that would be open to the public. Included would be presenters from a variety of professions with different viewpoints. They believe it essential to consider not only today’s needs, but what the future holds. It is their belief the public should have more information before a final plan is selected.
Administrator Bill Collins provided a recap of the jail advisory committee’s work. The Committee has been meeting on and off for over a year and a half. The Committee has studied reports, looking at current needs and future trends and where we are with our existing facility. There were 12 proposals developed with all but 4 eliminated for further consideration. In the fall of this year, the Commissioners leaned to the recommendation to newly constructed facility. The Committee requested contacting WBRC for a possible contract as the next step in the process. The challenge presented to the Commissioners is the cost consideration for a new 300 bed facility.
The Advisory Committee is prepared to present their recommendation to the Commissioners since as they feel their charge is complete.
Mr. Dansinger stated that some people involved with his group are working with some of the legislators in Augusta. Larry has been told that there are some laws that will be decriminalized if passed. Hopefully, there will also be more money going into substance abuse treatment.
Commissioner Baldacci stated DOC Commissioner Randy Liberty has toured our facility and feels something must be done. He is prepared to mandate 157 bed as the maximum amount of inmates to be housed in our facility.
Melissa states the community is also concerned about how the jail is being run. Aroostook County Judge has ruled in favor of one inmate suffering from Opioid use Disorder. This inmate will be allowed her medication after a 28 page ruling. Melissa feels denial of these medications will cause serious and irreparable harm and violates the American Disability Act.
Commissioner Cushing spoke that the RISE Program that the Sheriff implemented in the jail as the first in the State.
Commissioner Baldacci states that the current facility needs a major overhaul and something must be done. We are taking this seriously and will not be rushed into a decision. This will be the biggest capital project in Penobscot County’s history. The next step then is to receive and review the recommendation from the jail advisory committee. The Commissioners will receive input from the Community and then need to decide what to do with this information. The Commissioners have delayed signing any additional contracts.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff reported that today’s jail population is 174 with 40 boarded out to other county jails. There are no federal inmates, no county swaps and 75 inmates in Pre-Trial Services.
Sheriff responded to Larry and Melissa’s concerns just moments ago. Sheriff wanted to make certain they are aware that our Corrections Officers do care about what goes on in the jail. We are the first jail in the state to bring medical assisted treatment to the facility with the RISE Program in which we were recognized by Gordon Smith.
Sheriff stated he will be hosting Dr. Noah Nesin and Dr. Tripp Gardner on April 12. They will be looking at the facility and offering input to assist the Sheriff and staff with addressing mental health issues.
Sheriff reports that there are potential positives coming out of Augusta with funding and law changes. These, however, will be not immediately reduce population. It looks like there is more of an understanding that the mental health crisis is not just a jail issue. It has been years that the mental health system has been broken and the substance abuse problems have been challenging. These discussions should have occurred years ago. Where was the public outcry then?
Sheriff stated that we are understaffed by eight full time officers.
We have recently hired two Bangor policemen, Richard Polk and Sam McCarty to fill two of the three open positions in the law enforcement.
Sheriff has been in Augusta working on bail reform, criminal justice reform and will be testifying in Augusta on the jail visitation bill.
Sheriff reminded the Commissioners that the Maine Sherriff’s Association will be hosting the Annual Conference in Bangor on April 17th and 18th and everyone is signed up.
Bill Collins recognized the correction officers attending today’s meeting. Bill said the article in yesterday’s newspaper was unflattering. It is important that you hear that Administration appreciates you coming to work every day with the intention to do the right thing. Commissioner Baldacci echoed Bill and stated that your job is not only important, but difficult and we appreciate all you do every day.
Video Recording System Discussion –
LT Keith Hotaling reported that we looking into replacing the nine year video recording system. Our server has failed (nonfunctioning) and cannot be repaired. We are currently using our vendor’s spare (backup) server and they want it back.
LT Hotaling requested a quote from his vendor with certain specifications. One being that is be a cloud base solution and second be able to unplug and place in the new facility.
There is a lease available, however, because the equipment is specifically built for this purpose there is no residual value in the equipment. It is more beneficial to purchase the equipment since it will be less money to the County in the long run.
LT Hotaling is also looking to replace the camera system in the jail with higher resolution digital cameras. This will be approximately a $ 30K cost for the upgrade for the cameras and servers.
Commissioner Cushing moved to approve up to $ 30K for replacing the critical cameras and servers from funds in the capital account. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0. LT Hotaling will come back with the actual cost.
UT Update –
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the new fire/ambulance agreement with the Towns of Howland, East Millinocket and Lincoln for Mattamiscontis Township as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.
Barbara Veilleux reported that the LUPC will be meeting today to deliberate on the proposed adjacency and subdivision rule revisions. Bill spoke to Commissioner Paul Underwood from Aroostook and LUPC member. Aroostook voted to support the adjacency changes.
PERC notified Barbara the tipping rate fee will be increased $1.13 per ton effective April 1st. This is still $8.23 under our contracted amount of $84.36.
Argyle Salt/Sand shed LED lights are being installed today.
Barbara, George and Commissioner Sanborn will be attending Alton’s town meeting next Tuesday. Alton is planning to budget monies for their share of building costs.
The Census Bureau is offering participating in a new construction program that would allow us to add a residential address for living quarters for which construction is in progress from March 1, 2018 and is expected to be completed by April 1, 2020. These could be identified through LUPC building permits.
George Buswell reported that last weekend had them busy working on driveways with frozen culverts. In the spring, once everything thaws, we will go back repair the driveways correctly. George reports that once we are able to move gravel we will be able to repair the lost pieces of roads too. Deeds Update –
Susan Bulay updated the Commissioners on LD 1393 – An Act to Change the Requirements for Recording Plans at the County Registries of Deeds. The State Registers are in support of this legislation since it will eliminate the requirements for surveyors to file subdivision plans on Mylar and will be able to file on paper. That eliminates the need for us to store mylar forever. The public hearing is next Wednesday and Susan is requesting support from MCCA.
Commissioner Cushing moved to reconsider his motion from March 12, 2019 meeting. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.
Commissioner Cushing moved to grant Susan to spend up to $ 100 K in expenditures from the surcharge account to have up to five plan books restored through Ko-file in Vermont for the calendar year 2019. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.
PRCC Update –
Chris Lavoie spoke to Mr. Kingsbury from Whitten’s who has located another radio microwave to match our system. This will be used as a spare and will be tested and guaranteed before being stored.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to purchase under receiving a warranty a $2,700 radio microwave to be used as a spare. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion passed 3-0.
Finance Update –
Judy Alexander reported that some 2019 tax payments are coming in.
Our TAN is in place and funds are now available to be drawn down as need. Judy reported it will be two or three weeks before we will need to access these funds.
Judy will provide year end and first quarter numbers as well as the capital carry forward requests next week.
Judy is requesting that Assistant Finance Director, Tyler Thompson be allowed to modify his work hours to a 6:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. schedule with the caveat that if the administrative assistant was not in the office due to sickness or vacation, that he work the regular schedule for that day. The Commissioners are okay with the request but left it to the discretion of the Administrator. Administration Update –
After discussion, it was decided to hold LUPC interviews at next week’s Commissioners Meeting.
Bill stated he received a request to hire a 16 hours a week, part time flex/swing person for the maintenance department. The monies are not budgeted for this year, but Cap and Terry are asking for consideration of this request.
Bill reminded the Commissioners he is leaving tomorrow for a weeks’ vacation.
Commissioners Cushing and Sanborn, and Bill are signed up and paid for the MSA convention.
Bill provided the Commissioners with a spreadsheet of Probate Courts workload. Bill will provide more information as it comes in.
Bill has not met with Don McCann, Chairman of the Penobscot County Libertarian Party in regards to the Red Flag Laws amendment.
Shaketta Cunningham from DOJ still has not approved our paperwork. She is requesting additional paperwork that is due April 8th.
Our attorney Mr. Hammer is working with an attorney from Joe Borstein’s firm regarding the fall in the post office parking lot.
There is a Penquis Steering Committee meeting tonight.
Bill recently spoke to MCCA Executive Director Charlie Pray. He is home recuperating from his recent surgery.
Payroll Change Notices signed for: Richard Polk and Samuel McCarty – Hired full-time; Gary Hood – Resignation; Michael Morin – Promoted; Lucas Babcock, Kenneth York, Chaz Gray, Beau Seekins, John Mayhew and Blake Miller – Payroll Changes; Bradley Fitzgerald – Comp time.
Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 243,884.35 Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $396,309.27 UT A/P Warrant to be approved for: $129,422.37 UT TIF Warrant to be approved for: -NONE-
Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:54 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Present were: Bill Collins and the Commissioners. Session ended at 10:57 a.m. No votes taken. Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:58 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Present were: Bill Collins, Sheriff Morton, John Hiatt and Erika Honey. Session ended at 11:57 a.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:58 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Moved to approve passed 3-0.
Certified By: Administrator, William Collins Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner