Commissioners Minutes from October 20, 2020
Penobscot County Commissioners’ Meeting Minutes October 20, 2020 2306
9:00 AM Commissioners Peter Baldacci, Andre Cushing & Laura Sanborn 54°
Public Comment –
Commissioner Baldacci stated he received correspondence from Hollywood Casino announcing a reduction in workforce. Hollywood Casino cites the economic impact on its operations due to the coronavirus pandemic.
East Millinocket Mill Revitalization TIF Presentation –
Matt Lewis from Maine Stream Finance presented the following information:
• We received an application from the Town of East Millinocket in partnership with Katahdin Region Development Board for a $100,000 TIF request
• This request is to support an engineering evaluation and master site plan for the Mill site in East Millinocket.
• The master site plan would help create a strategic assessment of the rehabilitate costs of revitalizing the mill site into commercial and industrial space for lease.
• The TIF request is approximately 35.7% of the assessment cost.
• Town of East Millinocket would support $180K with the remaining cost coming from TIF funding.
• TIF Committee did not recommend financing. Their concerns:
o The proposal does not meet eligibility criteria
o The plan does not guarantee the rehabilitation would be completed
o No guarantee of UT jobs/economic benefit created would match the pro-rated share of TIF funds
o The Committee felt it was too early in the process. The Committee did support the general merits of the application. The Committee felt after a site plan was completed and “if” there were businesses that come and guarantee job creation that could be a different recommendation.
• Matt Lewis suggested this could be vetted through DECD (Department of Economic and Community) to see if this were an allowable funding request.
• There was conversation on the make up of the TIF Committee – and the credentials to become a sitting board member.
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to have DECD review this application. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Director Shaw Weeks feels that there should be a set number of TIF applications per year. Director Weeks is concerned of overspending what we have received in revenue this year. We may want to establish some better guidelines. Other grants require applications be submitted by a certain deadline in order to provide time enough to review and award.
UT Update –
Director Shaw Weeks presented the following budget requests for FY22:
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve $5,500 for Argyle Cemetery Association. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to approve $5,000 for Kingman Cemetery Association. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
• There was discussion on the Prentiss Cemetery Association request. Shaw will present an updated balance next week.
Director Weeks presented the draft budget for FY22 projected expenditures for review. Discussion was as follows:
• A slight increase in snow removal due to four contracts up for bid
• A contract changes for law enforcement reduced the request $ 22K
• Since Prentiss Cemetery Association budget request was tabled, this budget was not approved at this time.
Presented for signature:
• Lease agreement for the Chester Salt/Sand Shed. Signed.
• TIF agreement for Explore New England Media. Signed.
Sheriff’s Update –
Sheriff Troy Morton reported the following on law enforcement:
• We are currently hiring for two open positions. One due to retirement and one assigned to MDEA. Pleased to report we’ve had 45 applicants for these two positions.
• We have a couple deputies out on medical leaving us shorthanded at present.
• We assisted the State Police to a response in town of Patten of a child that fell from a horse and carriage.
• As reported that there are several deputies working in substantial drug cases over the last couple week.
• The past two weeks we are receiving multiple calls for service for frauds and scams. These never go away, but the method of scamming always evolves.
• The drug take back and shredding will take place this weekend at the Airport Mall.
• Vice President Pence was in town and we assisted.
Sheriff Morton reported the following on corrections:
• Today’s jail population is 159 in-house (132 males; 27 females); 47 boarded out, 170 in pre-trial services, no US Marshall holds and two county swaps.
• Sheriff received information from DOJ that we are receiving a NAMI Grant in the amount of $750,000 for justice and mental health for a three-year project.
• There was discussion on the communications received from DOC with the standards and rule changes. MSA has sought legal counsel and will be preparing comments and a response to the 6-7 rule changes and procedures that have been brought forward. Sheriff notes two changes are significant to our County.
• COVID testing procedures will be a different process to include rapid testing to provide a quicker response for those that are symptomatic.
Regional Booking and Law Enforcement Challenges –
The following law enforcement Agencies from Penobscot County were present:
Public Safety Director Jason Moffitt – City of Brewer, Chief Josh Ewing – Orono Police Department, Chief Mark Leonard – Veazie Police Department, Public Safety Director Chris Bailey – City of Hampden, Public Safety Director Scott Wilcox – City of Old Town, Chief Mark Hathaway – Bangor Police Department, and Lt. Sean Hashey – Maine State Police.
Chief Leonard reported on regional booking and challenges that departments are finding during this time. We have done everything we can to help mitigate the overcrowding of the jail. Chief states that he can comfortably say that his department has bailed out more people in the last couple months than he has in the prior 20 years he’s been in law enforcement. That is straining on resources since we have only one police officer on duty at a time. There have been times that folks had to wait for calls to be responded to because we were dealing with a prisoner. It is paramount for small departments like Veazie to be able to utilize regional booking. Without Regional Booking, the process of fingerprinting cannot be done digitally and imaging cannot be directly linked to Spillman. These processes would be time consuming and not as efficient and clear. As for the overcrowding issue, Chief Leonard’s opinion is we should continue to discuss looking into a new jail. The Chiefs here are working diligently on keeping prisoners out of your jail. The findings are summonsed people are out on bail for a longer term; we are seeing an increase in warrants for failure to appears.
Brewer Public Safety Director Moffitt echoed what Chief Leonard stated. His department is working hard to eliminate bringing people into the jail. Chief states that the regional booking is essential to their survival. Brewer is lean in staffing and we are very busy. When we are providing our own booking at the department calls for service are waiting to be addressed. The arrests being brought to jail are for Domestic Violence Assaults, Burglaries and Warrants.
Commissioner Baldacci states that we’re seeing the effects and you are feeling the effects of the log jam in the court. Regional Booking started with Sheriff Ed Reynolds. We are a strong supporter of it. Your communities pay for this service and it saves municipalities significantly.
Chief Hathaway, Bangor Police Department reported he was policing before regional booking. It is a huge benefit for all. The Chief appreciates the challenge we have with the overcrowding of the jail. Bangor has a very good partnership with Northern Lights. In this relationship case workers are able to divert a number of people away from the jail and from the Emergency Department. The purpose of this program is to connect people that are struggling with mental illness with their case managers. The State had spoken about LD 803 - An Act to Create 4 Regional Mental Health Receiving Centers – unfortunately, this act died.
Chief Ewing, Orono Police Department states the number of arrests has dramatically dropped. Society has made it clear that they don’t want as many people be brought to jail. We physically arrested 185-190 in 2017, and in 2019, 103. We listened. Chief Ewing feels if society can figure out how to address mental health, drug, poverty and homelessness he feels we won’t be taking as many people to jail.
DA Marianne Lynch stated particularly with COVID we have been partners with our law enforcement with the need to protect people’s health. Today’s paper reports that Bangor is the tops for a new drug. She feels she is practicing more social work than law; the challenges faced are real. We all understand what needs to be done. We are all growing in the same direction. Looking ahead and being creative such as a pre-charge diversion program and looking to shift focus by being ahead by offering programs.
Lt. Hashey, Maine State Police reported that drug trafficking from out of state seems to be steadily increasing. These past couple weeks we have seen large amounts of fentanyl seizures.
EMDC (Dept. 30) Budget Presentation -
• Lee Umphrey, Director of EMDC presented (Dept. 30) budget for the 2021 year requesting the same funding as last year.
• Since the pandemic everything has changed. We are finding ourselves being very creative. We are reconfiguring how we are delivering services. We have actually grown our services because of the impact. Right now, in the fragile environment of not just people finding jobs, it also includes businesses. In Penobscot County alone, we will be releasing $ 6M in grants for small businesses and non-profits.
• Lee updated all on the Katahdin Region Development Board – it has been a real shot in the arm for that area. Director Mike Elliott is doing an extraordinary job in helping the mill towns as well as the surrounding communities. Lee spoke about the TIF presentation that was held this morning. He feels that there needs to be community developers and business people that understand how to grow the community.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the request of $63,000 with $ 2 K coming from the PILT fund to fulfil the request of $65,000. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Penquis C.A.P (Dept. 36) Budget Presentation –
• Kara Hay, President and CEO of Penquis C.A.P. presented Department 30 budget for the 2021 year. Penquis C.A.P. is requesting level funding as the last ten years.
• Their services have doubled in Penobscot County over the last five years. Last year alone, Penquis gave over $ 32 M in services such as transportation, housing, economic stability, and early childhood and family health. What is seen with COVID is an increase of people asking for assistance. Specifically, mortgage assistance in which we are seeing more and more need, as well as childcare.
• Penquis did not qualify for the PPE grant due to our size. Residential and assisted programs have significantly been diminished because of COVID. (Such as the heating assistance program)
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve $18,500. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Penobscot County Extension Services (Dept. 35) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Penobscot County Extension Services (Dept. 35) Budget for the 2021 year. Department 35 is requesting the same amount as last year $78,722. Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Soil Conservation (Dept. 38) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Soil Conservation (Dept. 38) Budget for the 2021 year. Soil Conservation is requesting a slight increase in the amount of $71,912.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
County Insurance (Dept. 22) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented County Insurance (Dept. 22) Budget for the 2021 year. County Insurance shows a slight increase.
• Commissioner Cushing moved to approve $48,000. Commissioner Sanborn seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Bridge Account (Dept. 24) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Bridge Account (Dept. 24) Budget for the 2021 year.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve $100. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Loan Interest (Dept. 31) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Loan Interest (Dept. 31) Budget for the 2021 year. The requested amount has been increased from last year due to PRCC Bond.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve $733,000. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Labor Relations (Dept. 39) Budget Presentation –
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Labor Relations (Dept. 39) Budget for the 2021 year. The requested amount stayed the same as previous years.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve $8,000. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
Wage Adjustment (Dept. 40) Budget Presentation -
• Finance Director Judy Alexander presented Wage Adjustment (Dept. 40) Budget for the 2021 year.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve $30,000. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
DA’s Office (Dept. 5) Updated Budget Presentation –
• DA Marianne Lynch presented an updated budget presentation for the 2021 year.
• The two major changes are in payroll:
o Part time clerical position added; slight pay increase for the department heads assistant as well the Victim Witness allocation under services was moved to payroll.
• Commissioner Sanborn moved to approve the updated budget as presented. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0.
IT Department (Dept. 15) Updated Budget Presentation -
Director Cliff Warren reported IT Department (Dept. 15) updated budget for the 2021 year.
• Director Warren reported that payroll has gone down slightly.
• After discussion, consulting fees were reduced to $1,000.
• Increases with telephone and internet are due to new contracts for better connectivity.
• Discussion ensued on the $ 50K increase for computer repair and maintenance. Director Warren stated that Spillman costs increased by an additional $ 16 K to $216 K.
• We have a fire records managing system that is going away. We currently pay a little of $ 17K for this system. We are looking for an interface from Spillman that will provide updates which is less costly than the current system.
• A huge increase is from an initiative from Bangor Police that was looking for software called WatchGuard that is used for body cameras. Spillman has a quote for vault storage of $26,400 to hold information from the body cameras.
• The Commissioners asked for Director Warren to come back next week and present in writing his projects that will be able to corroborate his requests.
EMA Update –
Director LaBree presented her last EMA update before moving to Administration as the new Human Relations Coordinator.
• Director LaBree found out that the federal government FEMA disaster monies has made
a policy pertaining to correctional facilities and jails; they have been deemed ineligible. Meaning, out of the public assistance fund, all of the $ 26K costs the jail has had are not eligible to be reimbursed. These funds are classified for emergency protective measures - Law Enforcement, Fire EMS and Healthcare. Jails do not carry out emergency protective measures, therefore not eligible. However, the grant from DOJ that Deputy Brad Nuding worked on does qualify for $ 14K.
• We participated in our annual meeting getting ready for winter.
• Deputy Nuding is participating in a statewide communication exercise this Saturday.
Commissioner Baldacci thanked Michelle for all she’s done to improve EMA and congratulated her on her new position as the Human Relations Coordinator. Administrator Collins injected; Michelle was his very first hire upon joining the county.
Administration Update -
• Administrator Collins reported that MCCA had their meeting last week via zoom and will welcome MACCAM participation.
• Risk pool has not yet finalized numbers for county budgets for the new-year.
• A flu clinic was held last week with 26 participants.
• The budget caucus was held last Thursday with eleven names identify.
• We had a meeting with Bangor City Manager Cathy Conlow and police chiefs. We will continue the discussion on homelessness in our area.
• We have a tax abatement hearing to go before you next week with the Town of Stetson.
• The communication with Kat Taylor has been forwarded to our legal team in regards of who the “governing entity” for Penobscot County UT is.
• There was discussion on Spirit of America awards. Administrator Collins has spoken to other administrators who state they are postponing their ceremony until next year.
• Administrator Collins passed out correspondence from the Maine Rail Group.
• We had a test of an unplanned active shooter on campus last week. We will be holding a debrief Friday.
• Administrator Collins stated on a personal note, today would mark his father’s 100th birthday.
• Payroll Change Notices signed for: William Auger, Anastasia Davis, Eric Hathaway, Jeffery Hunter, Jamie T. Kennedy, Rebeca Merrick, Nicholas Mitton, and Adam Orcutt
• Payroll Warrant to be approved for 10.16.2020: $ 259,132.42
• Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for 10.14.2020: $48,990.38
• Accts Payable Warrant to be approved for 10.20.2020: $147,611.29
• UT Warrant to be approved for: NONE
• UT TIF Warrant to be approved: NONE
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:30 a.m., under 1 M.R.S.A. § 405 (6) (D) Contract Matter. Commissioner Cushing seconded the motion. Vote to approve passed 3-0. Present were: Commissioners, Administrator Collins Director Honey, Sheriff Morton, Lt. Hotaling, Director Alexander and Treasurer John Hiatt. Session ended at 11:56 a.m. No votes taken.
Executive Session---Commissioner Sanborn made a motion to go into Executive Session at 11:57 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 12:22 p.m. No votes taken.
Commissioner Cushing moved to adjourn the meeting at 12:23 p.m. with no further business on the agenda. Commissioner Sanborn 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