A meeting of the County Advisory Board was held on December 19, 2002 at 5:00 PM in the Conference Room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.
Members Present: Ted Morgan, Chairman (Edgartown – 31.58)
Richard Combra (Oak Bluffs – 15.15)
John Early (West Tisbury – 14.18)
Tristan Israel (Tisbury – 13.58) (7:37 PM)
Absent: Carl Widdiss (Aquinnah – 3.30)
Warren Doty (Chilmark – 20.48)
Also Present: Carol Borer, County Manager
Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant
Noreen Mavro Flanders, County Treasurer
Dianne Powers, Register of Deeds
William Weibrecht, Airport Manager
Robert Sawyer, County Commissioner
Ezra Blair, MV Times
Marc Villa, Airport Commissioner Chair
Chairman Morgan opened the meeting at 5:00 PM.
Tristan Israel Moved that the Minutes of June 17, 2002 and October 31, 2002 be Accepted as written. John Early Seconded the Motion.
The Vote to Accept the Minutes as written was Unanimous.
The County Manager began the review of the Budget Transfers by saying that she would like to review and pass the Transfers section by section. Mrs. Borer explained that there was $40,791.50 in her salary line and that $18,000.00 would be moved to Temporary Help and $22,791.50 would be moved into the Holiday, Vacation, Sick Pay line for her Buy Back. She explained that $1,391.00 was being moved from General Liability Insurance to Travel inside State to cover travel for the County Manager Search.
Mrs. Borer then reviewed the Courthouse Transfer to cover the purchase of a rug shampooer, and mentioned that the Courthouse painting and other renovations were continuing. Funds were moved from the draftsman’s line in the Engineer’s Budget into auto repair. There were transfers in the Rodent Control Officer’s Budget for the purchase of a computer.
Tristan Israel asked for an explanation of the County Manager’s Holiday, Vacation and Sick Pay Transfer, because, he said, people were inquiring about it. He asked whether the County Commissioners had scrutinized it and then, what it was.
Mrs. Borer said $22,791.50 was unpaid Vacation pay and sick pay that she accumulated over the last number of years. Mrs. Borer said, “it’s been signed by the Chairman of the County Commission. Vacation pay is approximately as the newspaper reported - $16,700 and something, and Sick Pay is about $4,400. Mrs. Borer added vacation was 55 days of vacation and sick pay ended up being…because one only gets paid 20% of sick days, approximately 14.75 days.
Mr. Israel asked had the County Manager not taken any vacation since she’d been here. He said he was just asking so he could explain to people who were asking about it. Mrs. Borer answered that she’d taken a few days here and there and that she’d also used her compensatory time. She said when she left on December 31, she’d still never use up all her compensatory time and she could not get reimbursed for that. Mrs. Borer asked if there were more questions.
Mr. Combra noted Mrs. Borer said the 55 days were vacation time. He asked if there was a policy about carryover for Vacation time. Mrs. Borer said for employees that fall under the Personnel Bylaws, they were allowed to carry over vacation days with the approval of the Department Head and that generally it was done for just one year. Mrs. Borer said because she was an appointed employee, she did not fall under the Personnel Bylaws. She managed the Personnel Bylaws and drafts them and acts on them. She added that the County Commissioners had made no policy about the County Manager, whether vacation days would be allowed to be carried over. Sick days are allowed to be accumulated by any employees in the County up to an unlimited number of days. Mrs. Borer said some towns had up to 180 days.
Mr. Combra said what he was asking was that he assumed with each employee there was some kind of document on an annual basis that identified the amount used and the amount of time remaining. Mrs. Borer said yes, there was. Mr. Combra said, “so you did come up with 55 days of unused vacation time.” And Mrs. Borer said yes. Mr. Combra continued, that there was an annual report of what she had used and what hadn’t and what she had remaining and was carrying over. Mrs. Borer said that was correct. She added that Department Heads were required on a monthly basis to hand into the Personnel Administrator…and there was a very thick notebook…on a monthly basis of vacation, sick, personal days, what’s accumulated, what’s been used and what remains. Mr. Combra said, “So there’s a document that shows that for all employees” and Mrs. Borer said that was correct. Mrs. Borer added she asked the Personnel Administrator how many days she had and this was what the number was. Mrs. Borer said she wasn’t sure if it was a public book, but if he liked, Mr. Combra was welcome to look at it.
Mr. Israel asked if the policy was the Chairman of the County Commissioners signs off on this and Mrs. Borer said, no, she asked the Chairman of the County Commissioners to sign off on her vacation and sick pay because normally she signed off on everyone’s vacation and sick pay and she did not feel comfortable signing off on her own vacation and sick pay.
Commissioner Sawyer said he had pride in how the County was managed and that included the Commissioners and the County Manager. She did a splendid job, but they had some differences. Commissioner Sawyer said the County Commissioners had never discussed these matters, nor had the County Commissioners discussed or had the opportunity to discuss anything in the Supplemental Budget. Commissioner Sawyer said he had a high degree of confidence had it been discussed it might have come to the Advisory Board in a different form. Commissioner Sawyer said he was hearing for the first time that the Chair of the County Commissioners had signed off on the Vacation and Sick Back pay. Commissioner Sawyer said the Commissioners were never consulted and he questioned whether the Chair should have signed off on something without the approval of the Commission. He asked that it be sent back to the Commissioners on the basis that it was only appropriate that something that impacts the County should include the advice and input of the Commissioners. He added that the County Commissioners had not considered the Supplemental Budget Transfers. He read from Mass General Law 35 Section 28G that spells out the role and duties of the Advisory Board. The Law states that the Budget may be amended by Supplemental Budgets by the County Commission giving them to the Advisory Board. He suggested that it was inappropriate to act if the County Commissioners had not approved the Transfers. He added that was the Law and that should be routine. He asked the Advisory Board to take a posture before acting on County business and find out more about it.
The County Manager said the County Commissioners had met to review the Administrative Codes and Mr. Sawyer had proposed an amendment about the County Commissioners approving all transfers and budgets and a vote of the Commissioners did not carry (3 t0 3 with one abstention.) The Commissioners felt the Charter was what was in effect and that they trusted the County Manager and Treasurer.
Mr. Sawyer agreed that was accurate, but said the motion to approve all budgets didn’t carry because he didn’t have the Law to support it. Now he did and he was confident an amendment would be passed in January when there were two new Commissioners. Mr. Sawyer added that there were serious needs in the community and money was precious. Social needs should be factored into how money was spent.
Chairman Morgan asked if this Supplemental Budget was ever approved by the County Commissioners. Mrs. Borer said no. It hadn’t been prepared yet by that meeting.
Mr. Combra said he thought the County Manager and Treasurer were capable of providing for the transfers from time to time, but the retirement of the County Manager had consequences regarding Buy Backs, etc. and the County Commissioners, since they employ the County Manager, should have a say. He added that it wasn’t that the County Manager might not be entitled to this money, it was just that he wanted to be certain about details. Mr. Combra asked about the Holiday part of the line. Mrs. Borer and Mrs. Flanders explained that was just the title of the line and there was no holiday pay included. Tristan Israel said he wished to echo Richard Combra, that the County Manager may be entitled to the money, but he was astounded that the Commissioners hadn’t seen it. He questioned the process and said it was the fault of the Commissioners too, if they hadn’t seen it. He said he’d always assumed Supplemental Budgets had been run before them first and that they knew about all Transfers. He said it was ‘bass ackwards.’ He referred to how this was dealt with in his town, that it was always run by the Selectmen. He added this was happening on the County Commissioners’ watch. He was concerned that the Chair would sign off on it without the full Board’s input.
Mrs. Borer said she couldn’t recall if the Chair had mentioned it at the last meeting or not. Mr. Israel said he didn’t think it was devious, but if that the process was the problem that needed to be rectified.
Mr. Combra said something was amiss. The County Commission was the employer. This was a substantial amount of vacation. They should look at the use of vacation time and have an annual accounting. The County Manager should request carryover from them. He added that after a lengthy employment, employees needed to carry some but use some, to get away from the job. He concluded that the Commissioners should review these transfers before the Advisory Board takes action.
John Early agreed. He said the perception was that the Supplemental Budgets were generated by administration but passed through the County Commissioners. He said he was surprised that this would come to the Advisory Board without being reviewed by the County Commissioners.
There was discussion about whether there was anything critical that couldn’t wait to another meeting. Mrs. Flanders voiced concern about tax issues for Mrs. Borer if Buy Back pay didn’t occur this year. Mr. Morgan asked for clarification, this calendar year? Mrs. Borer said taxes would be taken out of this amount.
Mr. Morgan said he was not questioning the figures but the process. The County Commissioners should approve or disapprove transfers before they come to the Advisory Board. He added that in towns, everything is approved by the Boards of Selectmen.
Tristan Israel Moved that the Board postpone action on the Supplemental Budget Transfers until they go before the County Commissioners for input.
John Early Seconded the Motion.
Mr. Early added that other requests, such as the one from the Health Council be considered by the County Commissioners too. Tristan Israel referred to money for rental assistance that the Board had asked the Commissioners to look for previously, and asked this to be considered too. Mrs. Borer said there was only $9,000.00 left after the transfers. Mr. Israel said it was the County Commissioners’ value judgment where they wanted to ‘put their eggs,’ with the County Manager’s guidance.
Marc Villa referred to Mrs. Borer’s statement at the start of the meeting regarding looking at sections of the Budget Transfers and asked if all was being postponed. Chairman Morgan said yes. Mr. Villa said there were payroll transfers that needed to be done. Richard Combra said the goal was to return before the first of the New Year. Chairman Morgan agreed he wanted it done before the end of this year. Mrs. Borer said she would call a special meeting.
Chairman Morgan added to the Motion that this all needed to be conducted before the end of the calendar year.
Tristan Israel said, ‘we’ll do our best.’
Chairman Morgan called for the Vote
Tisbury – yes
West Tisbury – yes
Oak Bluffs – yes
Edgartown – yes
The Motion Passed Unanimously.
Mrs. Borer asked if the Airport had capital improvement projects that would be affected. Mr. Weibrecht said not if it was done by the end of the year. The projects were: County share of an environmental permitting project, FAA occupied space being renovated for public space.
Chairman Morgan said there had to be an emergency meeting of the County Commissioners. He asked for an update about the Airport Manager and Assistant Manager’s salaries.
Mr. Weibrecht left at 5:39 PM.
Mrs. Borer reviewed the Grading for the two positions, including the County’s, Airport’s and MMA’s rankings. The Airport Manager was ranked Grade 19 Step 1. She added that she had told the Airport Personnel Committee representative that if it was thought that the Step should be higher, she should be given a letter stating the reasons. Mr. Israel noted that the Airport had graded the position at Grade 20. Discussion followed. Mrs. Borer said the two employees had received retro pay to July 1 and again to November 1.
Chairman Morgan asked Mr. Villa how he felt about this. Mr. Villa answered that it was the process that was in question. He believed and said legal counsel supported that the Airport Commission had the ability to enter into contracts with the Airport Manager and Assistant Manager and they did. They submitted paperwork, but the amounts were denied. He said the Manager and Assistant wanted to be under contract. He added that there was a civil suit that was demanding pay as per the contract and the Airport Commission had voted to enjoin the County in the suit. He said there would be a countersuit against the County. The Airport Commission, Mr. Villa stressed, supported the two employees. They could be subject to back pay plus treble damages. The Airport Commission didn’t want to lose these employees and wanted them on contract. Paying them, he said, should end the suit.
Mrs. Borer said since the matter was in litigation, counsel had recommended that there be no discussion and that the Board take no position. She said she was not comfortable discussing this at the table.
Mr. Villa said the Airport wanted to pay them and settle this and end the suit. Chairman Morgan questioned paying lawyers rather than employees. Mr. Combra said he thought there had been a discussion to provide job descriptions and that had been done. He said it was time to resolve this. Chairman Morgan noted that there were contract employees in town, that it was not establishing a precedent and he hoped this could be resolved.
Commissioner Sawyer thanked the Board for their previous vote and said he wasn’t at liberty to discuss the issue because it was in litigation, but the County Manager, with the support of the County Commissioners had been responsible and professional. He asked that the Board members put themselves, as elected officials, in the position of the Commissioners and asked how they’d feel if one of their boards, that they appoint, decided to sue them. Mr. Israel said he thought what had been asked for had been done and the Board should get the issue ‘off the table.’
Mr. Villa reiterated the Airport Commission’s support for these employees, and added that FAA and MAC also praise them. Chairman Morgan hoped it would be resolved before the next meeting and added it was senseless to pay lawyers. Mr. Early agreed the issue should be off the table, that requirements had been satisfied. He said he looked to the County Commissioner’s recommendation. Mr. Villa said the County Commissioners would stall as long as they could because there would be a new Airport Commission in the beginning of the year. He said the atmosphere would change and he urged the Board to resolve the issue. Mr. Combra said he had come prepared to resolve it at this meeting. He said the contracts were negotiated in good faith, what had been requested had been provided. He said he intended to see this resolved before the end of the year. Mr. Israel noted there were other political issues besides the salary. Chairman Morgan said he wanted it resolved before the end of his term so someone else didn’t have to deal with it. He urged resolution.
Tristan Israel thanked Chairman Morgan for his years of service, as did the other Board members. His dedication and leadership would be missed by all. Chairman Morgan said it had been his pleasure. Mrs. Borer gave the Chairman an envelope from herself, the Sheriff, Treasurer and Register of Deeds.
Tristan Israel Moved that the meeting adjourn. John Early Seconded the Motion. The meeting Adjourned at 6:00 PM.
Ted Morgan, Chairman
County of Dukes County Advisory Board