Penobscot County Commissioners Minutes from June 23, 2020
For a downloadable copy click HERE
Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes June 23, 2020 2289
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 72°
Approval of Minutes –
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve June 16, 2020 meeting minutes. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Public Comment –
Larry Dansinger citizen of Bangor asked who the decision makers on COVID-19 regarding testing in the jail. Commissioner Baldacci stated this has been addressed and it is MEDPRO, the jails medical team. Commissioner Baldacci also stated PUBLIC COMMENT is just that, not a question and answer period.
Larry wanted to know what the County plans to do with the money that is saved on boarding inmates. Can those monies go to training for both correction officers and patrol? Administrator Bill Collins explained that there are two components to the budget. The Jail is one Budget and Sheriff’s Patrol is included in the other. The County is hopeful each stay in the black.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff reported that today’s jail population is 136 in house; 27 boarded out to other county jails; no US Marshalls, swaps or county trades; and 111 in Pre-trial services.
Sheriff is frustrated with Governor Mill’s order #54 which stops the movement of inmates. Penobscot County currently is housing 13 DOC inmates. Three of those we are paying board to house at other county jails; one inmate we are paying for extensive medical costs.The State has a plan but it will take 2 ½ months to complete. The Sheriff finds frustrating that the State is opening up to visitors but not taking their inmates back to their facilities.
Our courts and DA’s Office are doing a tremendous job getting arraignments quicker which has been positive in helping keeping the numbers lower in the jail.
Maine Sheriff’s Association did hire legal counsel and voted to not accept the DOC Commissioners plan as presented.
Commissioner Sanborn injected that the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee is meeting tomorrow and can be live streamed to hear the latest information that may be of interest for Mr. Dansinger.
The Board of Visitors held their first virtual meeting last week.Sheriff reports it went well.Many thanks to the IT department who broadcast the meeting on the County Commissioners Facebook page. Some of the topics discussed was deciding to have one repository email address for questions to the board by the public.Virtual visits seem to be working out well for both the inmates as well as the corrections officers.
It was discussed that with the lower number of inmates in the jail, it is easier. It iless stressful, medical and mental health personnel can see more people.It has been reported to the volunteers that the inmates are appreciative of the free phone calls to family and friends provided by SECURUS. The only pitfall revolves around movement to get inmates to the different programs that we would like to be able to offer.
Sheriff reports that the MAT program is still being used by six inmates.
Courts are ready to start moving but the Sheriff feels that doing both; virtual arraignments and physical court appearances are doubling our staffing needs. Unless someone is ready to move forward with sentencing, it is unnecessary to bring the inmate to the court. When we bring inmates out of the jail environment, whether to the court or hospital, we have to place them in isolation for 14 days. We will run out of space if we are asked to transport inmates to the Judicial Building. We are trying to keep the jail population safe.
Keefe Commissary will send us our contract in 60 days which will provide all in one service for the inmates.
CHCS will have their final contract ready for your approval shortly. We have decided to maintain the same coverage hours. We would like to expand but we found it would be more beneficial to have a master’s licensed person on staff instead on the weekends.
We have submitted a grant to NAMI for another full-time person.
Sheriff responded to a question from Mr. Dansinger on academy training. The basic training hours at the academy are 720. However, we are mandated yearly to requalify for de-escalation training, use of force, high speed pursuit, and other trainings.
Sheriff believes it is an appropriate time to hire the full-time Unorganized Territory deputy.We have two deputies currently out on long term medical leave and a new hire will benefit staffing needs.
Sheriff discussed a seven-page document from law enforcement agencies across Maine of Best practices that to combat the hot topics/concerns taking place across the country.
Discussion for correction officers, deputies and detectives to receive hazard pay ensued. The State of Maine and City of Bangor have for their employees. Commissioner Baldacci stated that federal funds are being used for those employees. The Commissioners are in agreement that our employees should receive hazard pay as well if a source of funding can be found.
I have requested for the payroll and accounts payable processes to be reviewed numerous times.A tremendous burden is been placed on essential Sheriff’s Office staff to complete these processes in order to meet the county’s timelines. Directing Sheriff’s Office staff to work weekends and holidays, while non-essential county employees do not, is inappropriate.My first memo asking for this review was completed in 2017.It still has not been resolved. I have also asked for a wage review to be completed, that has not occurred. In the best interest of the staff and the County, I am not going to allow for this to continue. The county is aware of my continued requests. Treating all employees equally is very important.
Larry Dansinger requested that the Sheriff provide the names of the people that are delegating the testing offered to inmates on COVID-19. Sheriff reiterated that MEDPRO is our private outside medical provider that we have contracted. There are 12 medical personnel that are not county employees that make the decision on whom to test.
EMA Update –
Deputy Director Brad Nuding reported the resource requests have been fulfilled:
FEMA donation of 2000 facemasks
UMaine donation of another 5-gallon hand sanitizer bucket
Deputy Nuding states that EMA has participated in two meetings with Northern Light Health and other regional partners on preliminary mapping on the massive vaccination planning. Public health officials are thinking that there should be multiple sites to make testing more accessible to the public. A thought by Federal CDC is to have a phone application in order to register for vaccination.
Deputy Nuding and Director Chris Lavoie went on the road together to work on some redundancy on our communications equipment. Currently we have very poor reception for our radio communication on our local systems, not the State. After initial testing it was decided to use the fourth-floor space here at the County building. Director Lavoie and Deputy Nuding are going to draft a request together for grant monies to be used to help fund this need.
Maine Department of Education has established a school resource center. This will be a one stop hub for all school districts to go to for emergency planning.
EMA has been actively preparing and gathering PPE to have on hand in case of future emergency situations.
UT Update –
Director Shaw Weeks reported that the UT truck bids will be opened at next week’s Commissioners meeting.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the Argyle Broadband TIF Agreement with OTELCO in the amount of $82,250. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0
Commissioner Cushing made a motion to accept Director Week’s recommendation for the 2020-2021 salt bid award to go to New England Salt for $50.00 per ton for the Southern region and New England Salt for $58 per ton for the Northern region. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion to approve passed 3-0. Signed.
Director Weeks reported on the Kingman E-191 fire engine that needs expensive rebuilding repairs. The discussion resulted in calling area trade schools that may find use of this piece of equipment for training purposes as a donation.
George Buswell will submit the nomination papers for continued service on the MMRA Board.
Public Hearing –
Commissioner Baldacci opened a public hearing for District I on the proposed Penobscot County Radio Bond Referendum at 10:00 a.m.
We are asking the citizens of Penobscot County to vote on a proposed $6M bond on July 14. This will upgrade Penobscot Regional Communications Center’s public safety communications system.
Director and Deputy Director of PRCC Chris Lavoie and Deputy Josh Lilley presented the following information:
In 2019 Penobscot RCC was the busiest Public Safety Answering Point in the State of Maine. PRCC dispatches for 65 agencies covering a total population of 225,795
Sixteen years ago, there was a study done by a private consultant revolving around our Land Mobile Radio Communications in our coverage area. It revealed the following:
Complete loss of communication on occasion
The estimated cost to fix the system in 2004 was $26,725,376. This project was not completed. It was determined the cost of the project was not affordable.
Communications is getting worse. We asked the Commissioners to look once again into upgrading the system.
In 2017, Penobscot County hired an independent consultant to do a study on our Land
Mobile Radio system. This study included a consultant and members of the Radio
Upgrade Committee (ten participants from end user agencies) was able to determine the more fiscally responsible solutions for Penobscot County while still improving the coverage and reliability of the system. That study revealed the same issues as in 2004: poor coverage, interference, unreliable paging and complete loss of communication on occasion.
Penobscot County utilizes a combination of analog repeaters with microwave hope to communicate between tower sites.
Microwave radio made by GE was discontinued as of December 2012.
Kenwood analog repeaters were discontinued as of September 2017.
This equipment is no longer manufactured. We are faced with purchasing equipment from third party suppliers and/or on auction sites such as eBay for parts and repair.
There is no redundant backup for the microwave system and no system alarm to notify us of an outage. The only way to know if there is an outage is if multiple attempts are made to get ahold of a first responder and there is no response.
Receiver/transmitter sites are not “simulcast” meaning responders may have to manually switch between towers while responding to incidents.
Director Lavoie broke down the costs of the radio system estimates which does not cover any problems with the towers or structural engineering studies that need to be completed before the new equipment is put onto the tower:
Radio Systems - $1,079.292
Microwave Radio - $821,893
Dispatch Console - $659,157
Site Facilities - $478,519
Services - $464,747
Warranty/Maintenance for 10 years - $1,103,507
Our consultant provided the following additional cost considerations:
Structural analysis for 14 towers - $84,000
Tower upgrade estimate – 6 towers - $330,000
Tower replacement estimate – 3 towers - $750,000
Tower contingency - $1,164,000
Total Project Cost - $5,771,205
On July 14, 2020 Penobscot County is going out to bond vote of our citizens for a $ 6M upgrade of the equipment of our emergency communication infrastructure
The Commissioners and Treasurer John Hiatt are fully supportive of this project. Commissioner Baldacci elaborated that with the increased responsibilities for Penobscot County Regional Dispatch Center, it is time to upgrade these systems.
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to close the public hearing at 10:15 a.m. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion to approve passed 3-0.
IT Update –
Director Cliff Warren thanked the Commissioners for allowing relocating the IT staff a new office area. This is a major improvement in allowing socially distanced while working. The present space was a very small confined area, that didn’t allow two members to work at the same time.
There was discussion on two IT policies that Director Warren sent out for review. They were ACCEPTANCE USAGE POLICY and PASSWORD POLICY. These policies are currently with our legal team before the Commissioners will be asked to vote on them. Director Warren will be looking into more policies in the future.
Finance Update –
Finance Director Judy Alexander brought new Assistant Finance Director Serena Bemis-Goodall to today’s meeting.
Director Alexander provided a report on expenditures and revenues through May 31, 2020.
Wage adjustment line is over budget but that was due to retroactive pay from 2019. Director Alexander recommended that we make a transfer from the undesignated surplus to offset this expense.After discussion
Tax commitment received is at .41%
Receivables should be coming in soon from NWDB and the UT
We have not received our PILT funding (this typically arrives in July)
Our TAN balance is $1.5M
The finance department is preparing for the auditors
Training is going well with the new finance team
Fiscal year budget is being worked on and as well as preparing for the County budget
Machias Savings Bank has launched a new online banking system today
Director Alexander is half-way through the DOJ course regarding DOJ funding
Commissioner Baldacci asked Judy to reach out to Sheriff’s Executive Secretary and see what can be done to help with the payroll procedure problems.
HR Update –
Director Erika Honey discussed the workers compensation safety incentive program. There is a more formal application in order to apply credits for organizations now as compared to before. This program has three tiers which will provide a discount to the County. Commissioner Cushing moved to approve the agreement letter to participate in this program. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Motion to approve passed 3-0.
Director Honey reported on the continuing changes that are occurring frequently on travel guidelines.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve distribution of the Employee Travel and Return to Work guidelines memo to County employees. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion to approve passed 3-0.
Director Honey reported that three new employees started work this week.
Patrol Deputy – Jordan Norton
Custodian – John Neff
NWDB – Grant Coordinator – Ben Hawkins
Interviews will be held this week for Clerical Specialist II positions
Maintenance Director Cap Ayer submitted his retirement notification and Director Honey is currently working on his job description
Administration Update –
Administrator Bill Collins reported the following:
He has been working closely with Director Honey and Attorney Ed Bearor on multiple personnel concerns.
Last night the Budget Committee Referendum Meeting was held and live streamed on Facebook.
District III’s Public Hearing will be held tomorrow night by Commissioner Sanborn at Old Town High School at 6:00 p.m.
District II’s Public Hearing will be held next Tuesday night by Commissioner Cushing at Corinna Elementary School at 6:30 p.m.
District I’s Public Hearing was today during our Commissioners Meeting for Commissioner Baldacci
Director Honey and I will be holding negotiations with the FOP later today.
Payroll Change Notices signed for:Christopher Watson - Transfer; Joseph Baillargeon, Camron Barrieau, Tyler Cadet, Isiah Davis, Chad Foley, Peter Garland, Ray Goodspeed, Michael Jandreau, and Jason Linkletter – Payroll Changes
Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve the payroll and accounts payable warrants as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Payroll Warrant to be approved for June 19, 2020: $ 236,716.32
Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for June 19, 2020:$ 663.76
Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for June 19, 2020:$ 58,927.58
Unorganized Territory Warrant to be approved for June 23, 2020: $4,609.50
Unorganized Territory TIF Warrant to be approved June 23, 2020: $6,823.66
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:46 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins, HR Director Erika Honey and Sheriff Troy Morton. Session ended at 11:30 a.m. No votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:31 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Motion approved 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins and HR Director Erika Honey. Session ended at 11:46 a.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting for public session at 11:47 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0
Administrator, William Collins
Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman
Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner
Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner