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Penobscot County Commissioners Minutes from July 21, 2020

For a downloadable copy of the minutes click HERE

For a downloadable copy of the Letter of Support to EMDC click HERE

Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes July 21, 2020 2293

9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 74°

Public Comment –

Bangor citizen Melissa Berky requested information on the jail budget that was presented last week. Melissa’s question was in regard to the revenue shortfall of $430 K on the budget. Commissioner Baldacci stated that $430 K is the amount we would need supplemental funding to cover.

Bangor citizen Larry Dansinger stated as a result of COVID these last four months he feels this budget doesn’t represent changes occurring in the jail (less inmates) and reflects “business as usual”. There also seems to be more inmates coming in than before with more arrests.

Larry wonders why there are not monies set aside for training purposes for corrections offices and deputies. He feels that this budget should not merely be presented to the Commissioners but to the public as well. There should be a public hearing such as the one that is held in the fall. Larry requested that the Commissioners set such a hearing date and provide advertisement so that the Community can attend if they wish.

Bangor citizen Monique Gautreau had three questions she would like answered:

  • On the Revenue page of the budget and wanted to know what CCA stood for – “Community Corrections Act”.Commissioner Baldacci stated that 30% of our expenditures are related to Community Corrections.

  • Medical co-pay – why that amount is going up. Was wondering if that was from Medicare expansion? Commissioner Baldacci stated that will be addressed during the budget presentation.

  • Monique re-asked the question on how many people in the jail have been tested for COVID-19. Our Medical Provider has that information.

Melissa made a final request that “Public Comment” be placed later in the agenda. Melissa feels the current time does not bode well for the public. Commissioner Sanborn stated that we placed the Public Comment at the beginning so that people would have a set time to comment.

Sheriff’s Update –

  • Sheriff Troy Morton reported that today's jail total population is 161; thirteen boarded out and holding seven (7) inmates that belong to DOC. They are sentenced and waiting to be moved to the State facility.

  • Sheriff reported why our population is going up; partially because of boarding out with Two Bridges. Our contract is set to expire at the end of this month.They have drastically changed how their operation is being run; they are not accepting as many outside inmates; and have almost doubled boarding costs ($65 per inmate keeping their jail count in the 70-80 range. Fifteen employees have been laid off.

  • Sheriff stated boarding out inmates prevents inmates from having access to their attorneys, programming and being away from family; not to forget the additional costs for transportation and staffing. When someone is in house, it is easier for the court to be able to move their case through.

  • In order to keep numbers down he is working with other facilities (Somerset, Washington, Piscataquis and Hancock) for availability and costs.

  • Sheriff is speaking with law enforcement offices around the County reiterating officers not bring people in that can be bailed out at their own departments. If they must be brought in, both the officer and arrestee MUST be masked; each will be screened by medical.

  • Sheriff has a tentative date of August 31st for the next PACE Program for first offenders. PACE is the true jail diversion program that has been placed on hold because of COVID. Sheriff is working on finding a big enough space to safely occupy a large group that have qualified for this program – currently 30 people.

  • Commissioner Baldacci requested that Sheriff find out from MEDPRO accumulative COVID testing to be reported at our next meeting. There is a public request to know those numbers.

  • Sheriff has service master coming in to clean high traffic areas including (intake, lobby, and holding).

Presentation of Jail Budget –

Administrator Collins clarified the process of this 2020-2021 Jail Budget for dates July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2021. The State of Maine requires each county to submit this budget. As you can see, we are already three weeks into this Budget Year. In the fall of the year, the Commissioners will present the jail calendar year budget which will go to a public hearing. If it weren’t for COVID, this budget would have been shared and presented to the State in Augusta. Criminal Justice and Appropriations have not even met to receive County budgets. There are four identified Pools of monies that the Governor has placed in her Annual Budget.

Sheriff Morton and Lt. Keith Hotaling were available to answer questions as follow up to last week’s presentation. The following information was noted:

  • On Payroll –

  • Make part-time cook position a full time position. There are not as many inmate helpers available as before

  • Hire an additional training officer; the current training officer’s payroll comes from Patrol. However, he is responsible for all training and recruitment for all the Sheriff’s Office.

  • Overtime pay regular part-time is an increase of $300 K. Discussion showed that there has been a substantial cost associated with paying overtime due to the overcrowding and lack of available staff.

  • Workers Compensation line was increased $80K from last year’s budget.

  • On Services and Utilities –

  • Legal Assistance is up $4 K due to more FOAA requests. The Commissioners felt since they have spent on $8,470 this year keeping it at $16 K is appropriate.

  • Boarding costs were reduced from $1 M to $ 500 K. The Commissioners feel that this is too low; it was agreed to increase Boarding to $650 K.

  • Sheriff feels there is a typographical error on the Medical line. It should not be $1,034,000 – but $1,340,000. Lt. Hotaling states that we were factoring in our new contract with MEDPRO and increased medical costs. The Commissioners feel comfortable with keeping the budget the same as last year at $1.2 M.

  • There was discussion on Counseling Services increasing; this had been previously agreed upon with the Commissioners so there is more time available for the clinician. Sheriff reported that he has submitted another federal grant through NAMI to assist with additional funding for counseling.

Administrator Collins explained in more detail how the State identifies revenue. There are four pools of money that the Governor sets aside.

  • Baseline Funding - $13,500,104.Kennebec County receives CARA in the amount of $240 K. All is based on bed count in all county jails.Monies are shared based on these percentages.

  • CCA Funding - $1.7 M. In order to receive funding, we must show 30% of our dollars used in programs. Historically we overspend on programming. This too is formula driven.

  • One- time funding - $ 3,000,000 which $101,369 is to be held in reserves by MDOC. The actual number $2,898,761 has not been decided how to allocate.MDOC has gone to MSA, MCCA and MACCAM to formulate an opinion on how those dollars should be shared.

  • $101,369 is held in reserves by MDOC. Those funds are typically used for capital needs. Counties have opportunities based on need to apply for these funds. This year Kennebec and Penobscot County applied. We are asking for $28 K for new washers and dryers.

  • Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the 2020-2021 Jail Budget as presented with the Adjustments recommended by the Commissioners. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.

Larry Dansinger reiterated that he felt this budget does not reflect on current changes that are taking place in the jail.

Commissioner Baldacci stated that we are changing the way we are thinking. We have increased medical and counseling funding as well as decreased $350 K on boarding costs. We are continuing with efforts to reduce jail population. We are working on processes. These are challenging times and the DA’s Office and Courts are working together with the Sheriff to mitigate who is staying in the jail and who participates in Pre-trial services. The future is still uncertain in a lot of areas.

Commissioner Cushing injected that if you listen closely to what the Sheriff and Staff are saying. They are working to significantly change things for the better for the inmates. We need to give credit for the tremendous amount of work being done for the benefit of inmates.

UT Update -

  • Director Shaw Weeks presented the 2020 Paving Contract for Mattamiscontis Township for signature. Signed.

  • Shaw presented the Springfield Fire Protection Agreement.Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve this contract as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve 3-0. Signed.

  • Shaw also provided an update of the junkyard on the Tar Ridge/Averill Road.Currently, the letter is going through legal for correct verbiage. Once finished he would like permission to ask the Sheriff’s Office to present the letter. The Commissioners agree.

Matagamon Lake Associate (MLA) TIF Application –

Matt Lewis from Maine Stream Finance stated the following information -

Two years ago, MLA came before the Commissioners for assistance in funding the

Matagamon Dam Project

  • This project had two phases:

  • An engineer reported the first phase of importance was the upstream was in dire need of repairs. MLA received $ 100 K of TIF funds to complete that project.

  • MLA put in an additional $ 50 K of their own funds and an additional $ 17 K was received from the Outdoor Heritage for work on the second phase of the restoration project.

  • MLA Board has accepted Brown Construction’s bid to complete the project. Matt recommended that MLA get a signed contract to lock those prices in. They also need to get a permit from the Land Use Planning Commission to complete the repairs. The TIF committee was in support of monies to go to MLA.

  • Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the $ 75 K TIF funds as recommended by the TIF Board. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.

PRCC Update –

Commissioner Baldacci thanked Director Lavoie and Deputy Lilley for all their hard work in getting the word out on the importance of the Radio Bond that was passed on Tuesday.

  • Director Lavoie thanked the Commissioners and Administration for their support on this project; thank you to the voters for seeing the value in this project; thank you to AFSCME in providing the signage that helped get the word out and shop steward Blake Miller for attending the hearing and getting the word out to the Public.

  • The next step is a meeting next week with the Project Manager and vendor to start discussing the planning phase. It takes 20 days to certify the election.

  • The New desk parts are ordered and it will be a couple weeks to complete that project.

  • Canadian Pacific is upgrading their tower shack in Patten. They are completing the wiring and Whitten’s will be moving over our equipment. Canadian Pacific communicated to Director Lavoie that the current tower is not safe or sound.

Administration Update –

  • Administrator Bill Collins publicly thanked the citizens of Penobscot County for voting to approve passing the Radio Communications Bond.

  • Bill is hopeful that we receive the supplemental jail funding monies this week for FY 19-20.

  • Administrator Collins updated the Commissioners on the cracked window; the estimate was sent to the Risk Pool for reimbursement. Malcolm Ulmer said we should have a check for $1,617.95 within the next 14 days (after the $1000 deductible).

  • Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the letter of support to EMDC. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. (SEE ATTACHED)

  • After next week’s regular agenda there will be a Tax Abatement Hearing. This has been placed on hold for a significant period of time due to COVID.

  • We received yesterday another abatement request from a citizen from the Town of Stetson.

  • Administrator Collins provided the following for EMA Director, Michelle LaBree:

  • Penobscot County has started working on the disaster declaration to which the County will receive 100% reimbursement on all eligible costs. The declaration is for Emergency Protective Measures and this includes backfill/OT, supplies, and equipment directly related to COVID. Typically, we would have a 10% local share however; FEMA has authorized the local share to be absorbed by the CARES Act. To date we have 8 towns, 2 schools, 3 entities that have applied for disaster funding within Penobscot County. I have sent out an email to all our communities reminding them that there is funding available if they have eligible costs.

  • We are working on the County application for homeland security funds which is due next week. There was $190 K requested, but there was only $133 K available. Commissioner Sanborn moved to support the recommendations as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.

  • With resource requests slowing down the Maine CDC is looking at how to transition back to the normal supply chain. We have seen some departments able to receive PPE through their normal vendors while some cannot. MEMA and Counties will continue to support the CDC with requests as long as they wish us to.

  • Maine Emergency Management is only “activated” during normal business hours and the CDC has also moved the majority of their staff from the State EOC back into their offices. There is a CDC rep in the State EOC for any issues we may have.

  • Sheriff has been in communication with Robert Chicoria has been notified the County would be eligible to apply for and indirect grant in the amount of $79,800. The County is eligible for $600 per full time in either corrections or patrol; we are working to apply for this grant.

  • Orrington has a new town manager Chris Bachmann.

  • Payroll Change Notices signed for:NONE

  • Payroll Warrant to be approved for July 17, 2020: $ 233,085.55

  • Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for July 21, 2020:$ 160,267.75

  • UT Warrant to be approved for July 21, 2020 for FY ’21: $10,151.91

  • TIF Warrant to be approved for July 21, 2020 for FY ‘20: $7,282.84

Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 10:45 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (A) Personnel Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins, and Director Honey. Session ended at 11:19 a.m. No votes taken.

Meeting Adjourned-

Commissioner Sanborn moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:20 a.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0

Certified By:

Administrator, William Collins

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Peter K. Baldacci, Chairman­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

Laura J. Sanborn, Commissioner

Andre E. Cushing, III, Commissioner

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