Penobscot County Commissioners' Minutes from May 21, 2019
For a downloadable copy click HERE
Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes May 21, 2019 2239 9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 55°
Approval of Minutes -
Commissioner Cushing made a motion to approve May 7th and May 14th, 2019 meeting minutes. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
UT Update –
Barbara Veilleux presented the letter for the Secretary of State requesting finalizing oath of office paperwork for LUPC nominee, Peter Pray. Signed by Chair, Peter Baldacci.
George Buswell is working with Joe Reinzo this week in Greenfield on culverts, ditching and shoulder work.
Barb stated that the 2019 salt bid has gone out to the vendors. Total tons are as follows: Southern Region – 5,592, Northern Region – 2,535 for a total of 8,127 tons. This is 854 more tons than what was submitted last year for the same amount of towns. Everyone has requested more salt. The bid opening will be at the June 4th Commissioners Meeting.
Barbara and Commissioner Sanborn will attend the community broadband meeting for Argyle tonight. Commissioner Cushing states that he was contacted from Premium Broadband, who expressed interest in a discussion of possibly providing broadband services in that area.
Barb reported that Bowlin Matagamon Snowmobile Club did not have to pay sales tax on the trail drags as Maine provides a tax credit on grooming equipment.
Barb will not be in the office Thursday or Friday of this week.
Commissioner Sanborn received a request on a project for co-location of antennas on an existing lower in Lee. That information was passed on to Barbara for further review.
PRCC Update –
Chris Lavoie updated information regarding the radio infrastructure upgrade project. o Chris spoke with Col. Cote from MSP last week about co-locating on the Maine State Communication towers. The moratorium is still in effect to get on those towers. MSP are looking at doing a trial with an agency in Aroostook County. o The Radio Governance Board will not entertain co-locating with us unless we come with drawings and information about every detail of our radio system to make sure it doesn’t interfere with their service. In order to do that, we need to go out to RFP, get our design, and then report back to them. o Going out for a RFP could work in our favor. Currently none of our sites, with exception of Springfield, are up to R56 grounding standards. We would have to bring those sites up to our R56 grounding standards. The State sites are already up to the standard, so if we could land on numerous sites, we could actually save money. o Chris is recommending we go out to RFP. We started a draft when Jim Ryan was here in September and using that as our working draft copy. o We have one visit left from the consultant that has not been utilized. He is coming up to meet with the Committee next week to make final changes. Areas of concern is additional county owned equipment that was not included the last RFQ and how to integrate the equipment together. o Chris feels that he will be able to present a draft for review by end of next week.
Finance Update –
Finance Director, Judy Alexander provided the Commissioners with the following:
Jail camera systems – are scheduled to come out of the Jail Capital Account
WBRC – Jail Building Project Appropriations was transferred from the undesignated fund balance Jail control project – Institutional Equipment –is showing a deficit Kitchen freezer is not showing on the Balance Sheet since it was taken from the repairs line Under Administration--monies will be taken out of Bridge Construction and moved to Property Acquisition for utility expenses at the YMCA property
Judy reports that all the departments are within their spending limits through April 30, 2019. County buildings is again a little over their spending due to fuel purchases in the beginning of the year. Deeds doesn’t include April’s revenue since that check arrives middle of May.
Judy stated that the jail is reflected under two budgets – Fiscal year which closes June 30th and the Calendar year which closes December 31st. We received $468 K that Judy was instructed by S. Ferguson to place in FY19 budget year (for CRAS reporting purposes) since the monies were received January 2nd, but is was used to fund FY18 budget. Judy plans on creating a receivable as of 12/31/18.
Sheriff referred to a conversation he had with Commissioner Liberty last week at the Maine Sheriff’s Association meeting, in which they discussed the monies that DOC has to disperse. DOC feels that they have enough money that is readily available to cover the County’s deficit. Sheriff has already provided the amount to DOC from the numbers that Judy presented. The only hurdle would be if we continue with boarding costs which those figures have not been included in the newest number presented. Sheriff feels confident that we should be receiving these additional monies.
Judy reported that she and the Sheriff’s staff met to work on the FY20 Jail budget. Judy’s goal is to have this request finalized by mid-June to present to the Commissioners. Three items of concern are medical/boarding costs, and wages with the rest of the budget fairly well flat funded. Sheriff did not include additional funding’s for the MAT (Medical Assisted Treatment) program monies. Sheriff will be meeting with DHHS on June 14th to discuss this program.
Judy requested that $12,700 be moved from the wage adjustment to the departments that have had wage increases after the budget had been approved.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to have $12,700 from wage adjustments moved to the departments that have had wages increased since the 2019 budget was approved. Commissioner Cushing seconded it. Motion approved 3-0.
Administration Update –
Judy reported that Bill Collins is in North Carolina enjoying the grandchildren and sunshine.
Reminder that Monday is a holiday and the County will be closed.
Another Paint and Snack night has been scheduled for June 11th because the last one was such a success.
Penobscot County will be featured in the June MCCA Monthly Newsletter. Erika is working on it.
The Health Fair is coming up on June 19th providing Bio-metric screening.
Erika and Renee Stupak will be holding interviews this week on the applicants for the Clerical Specialist positions in Probate.
Claire Kiedrowski sent images of Bangor, Brewer and Hampden that were recently taken under ideal weather conditions. They are updated on Google Earth.
Payroll Change Notices signed for: Wallace Jipson – Resignation; Cody Knight – Hired F/T; McKenzie Madden – Payroll change; George Buswell – Comp time.
Payroll Warrant to be approved for: $ 222,276.02 Accounts Payable Warrant to be approved for: $ 79,413.68 UT A/P Warrant to be approved for: -NONE- UT TIF Warrant to be approved for: -NONE- IT Update -
IT Director, Cliff Warren reported he heard from another source that there was going to be a statewide upgrade on May 22nd. In summary, the program is a complete revamping of the switching and routing infrastructure which entails all the States connections. Cliff reports, we maintain a shared connection with DOC with different systems for queries. We also use this connection as a transmission method for all of Spillman systems throughout the state. The State had intended without telling us to change IP addresses which would disrupt connectivity throughout the state. The State has postponed their upgrade until the engineers revisit this.
I don’t think they realized the scope of the damage their project would entail for lack of planning. They have since postponed the upgrade.
Office of Informational Technology were the ones involved. Cliff states that they’ve recently gone to a new vendor.
After our conference call, they have updated his office as the contact.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff reported that today’s jail population is 163 with 41 boarded out to other county jails. There are no county swaps, no federal marshals and 68 in Maine Pre-Trial Services. Sheriff explains that we are down a little on Pre-Trial Services due to lacking a case worker. Interviews will be held and hopefully that position will be filled shortly.
Sheriff states that there have been discussions on the expansion/building a new jail, one thing seen in the media is that the data is being shared and talking about prisons. Sheriff feels it is imperative that we give all a good understanding that we are a county jail and the needs and programming are much different from prisons. These include the lengths of sentences and inmate crises are much different than those in prison since inmates have been in a jail for months before they get to the prison.
Sheriff reported Maine Pre-Trial services provided data showing that last year 40% (2,019) that were arrested and brought in the jail were released less than a day. This shows that the bail reform in the last couple years has shown promise. What isn’t totally accurate, is that the thought process with the change of laws and services We will dramatically decrease our numbers. This isn’t totally accurate.
The number of “bed days” saved by diverted persons from the county jail, were over 70 K bed days just last year. These are by folks released on Pre-Trial Services, alternative sentencing and/or pretrial sentencing. These could have been home confinement, substance abuse and mental health programming, working, and electronic monitoring. Sheriff reported the amount of people in our 1st and 2nd offender programming throughout the year is about 30 individuals. This is for OUI violations, minor theft charges and some traffic violations. This program cost is offset by the attendees. This program is a 24 hour a day in which they go to schools, town halls, camps to paint and clean up. Counseling occurs during the evenings. Maine Pre-Trial services has been running this program and unfortunately are struggling getting employees to work these weekends. They’ve asked if we would consider taking back this program. Sheriff feels this is valuable since it typically diverts about 200 people a year. A consideration that Sheriff is looking into is possibly a day program.
Sheriff has received a request by Bangor Judicial Center to consider removing all video arraignment by mid-June. Sheriff feels that time line is too short. He does understand the benefit of having lawyers together to possibly work out issues, as well as having the probation officers nearby. Sheriff feels it may be more logical to have two sessions since on most video arraignment days we sometimes have up to 30 people as transporting inmates would be a challenge. Currently, video arraignments take a lot of staff since the court refuses to send over a clerk. One of our officers has to take on that work. Video arraignment also disrupts any visitations we have since the visit rooms are taken up by the video visitations that happen three times a week.
Correction Officer Wally Jipson who has been a tremendous officer has decided to retire. He will be sadly missed and we certainly thank him for his many years of service.
Sheriff reported through ongoing communication with the Town of Orrington, it looks like they’ve decided to go with contracting law enforcement services with the County. The Town has requested costs and will present it to the town to vote upon.
Sheriff is requesting to hire a new F/T deputy as a floater position. Our northern deputy will be out for 3-5 months for medical reasons, along having another deputy out on medical at this time. Sheriff reports that for the last six months we have been down a deputy, and potentially with a new contract coming up, we will be prepared. Sheriff states that the days of hiring part time people is over. It is paramount we place in the forefront officer safety.
Opening of Professional Services RFP for Architectural/Engineering Services for Schematic Design –
Commissioner Baldacci opened five bids that were submitted for Professional Services for Architectural/Engineering Services for Schematic Design. These bids were received by the date and time requested and have met all the qualifications.
o Artifex from Bangor, Maine o LaBella from Rochester, New York o SMRT from Portland, Maine o TAC Architectural from Bangor, Maine o WBRC from Bangor, Maine
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to take these bids under advisement. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion moved 3-0.
Melissa Burkey asked if there would be a public hearing. Commissioner Baldacci responded once we gather all information to make a qualified decision we will hold a public hearing.
Public Comment -
Larry Dansinger, Bangor resident, commented that he hopes there is consideration for the public hearing be at a time when it would be more accessible for working people to attend.
Larry presented an editorial from Central Maine Sentinel regarding over crowdedness in jails and additional questions he has for DA Lynch.
Commissioner Cushing asked Larry if he believes in his opinion that the current facility we have is not satisfactory for our needs in Penobscot County. Larry’s response is that is it clear that we need to do the analysis of what’s going on from the DA office, Judges, Sheriff’s Department to who’s arrested and who’s not arrested, facilities for mental health and substance abuse. Our group is trying to do that analysis and until that is done I think the estimate of the number of beds (300) is premature. Larry believes that we need more of an evaluation of the criminal justice system and we need be more comprehensive in not just focusing on the jail.
Melissa Burkey stated that in recent news that Governor Mills is allotting $14 M to reopen an inpatient/outpatient services at the Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center.
Amy McCrea, an Orrington resident and employee of Penobscot County, spoke in favor of building a new facility. Amy states that before DOC took over the jails statewide, we were on our way to building a new facility because it was extremely needed, even then. Today it is beyond being needed. It has become a situation where we serve so many people, including victims of the crimes. Certainly there are people mentally ill, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not dangerous. We would all like seeing more done for people doing drugs. We’re doing the best to address this but it an enormous problem. Unfortunately, it is falling upon the jail to take care of these people. People that are involved with drugs are almost always involved with crimes. Due to the over crowdedness, we are spending so much money on boarding out fees to those jails. We could spend that same money in our County where people in this area or continue to support other counties by boarding out inmates out.
Executive Session---Commissioner Cushing made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:28 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Present were: Judy Alexander, Barbara Veilleux, and John Hiatt. Session ended at 11:03 a.m. NO votes taken.
Commissioner Cushing moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:04 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Moved to approve 3-0
Certified By: Finance Director, Judith Alexander for Administrator, Bill Collins Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner