A Public Hearing and meeting of the County Advisory Board was held on June 25, 2003 at 7:00 PM in the Conference Room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.
Members Present: Arthur Smadbeck, (Edgartown – 31.40)
Richard Combra (Oak Bluffs – 14.88)
Warren Doty (Chilmark – 18.51)
John Early, Chairman, (West Tisbury – 15.11)
Tristan Israel (Tisbury – 15.06)
Carl Widdiss (Aquinnah – 3.81)
Also Present: Dianne Powers, Acting County Manager; Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant; Noreen Mavro Flanders, County Treasurer; David O’Sullivan, Special Sheriff; William Weibrecht, Airport Manager; Sean Flynn, Assistant Airport Manager; Ezra Blair, MV Times; Jonathan Burke, Vineyard Gazette; Michael Eldridge, WWTF; Tad Crawford, Health Council; Patsy McCornack, Health Council; Jacque Cage, Health Council; Catherine Brennan, Health Council; Sarah Kuh, VHCAP; Robert Culbert, Water Testing Lab Director and Recreation Manager; Steve Berlucchi, County Engineer; Carol Grant, Assistant Treasurer; JoAnn Murphy, Veterans’ Agent; TJ Hegarty, Rodent Control Officer; Joanna Jernegan, Commissioners Strauss, Sawyer, Smith, Jason.
Chairman Early opened the Public Hearing at 7:00 PM. Executive Assistant Marsha Smolev was recording at the County Commissioners’ meeting that had moved to the Retirement Office down the hall and thus was not present at this meeting until 7:40 PM. The tape was running however and information before this point can be heard on that.
7:40 PM: Joining Public Hearing already in Session.
County Treasurer reviewed Miscellaneous Department 1000. When asked about legal expenses, Treasurer Flanders and Acting County Manager Dianne Powers said they hoped FY 2004 legal expenses would be less. Mrs. Flanders added that the Administrative Assistant’s complaints (costing $6500 so far) were hopefully settled and there wouldn’t be legal expenses in ’04 regarding the departure of the County Manager.
Other Departments were reviewed. Tristan Israel asked what the Vineyard Healthcare Access Program had requested. Sarah Kuh explained her request for funding beyond that of her salary and benefits. Warren Doty reviewed the program’s success and stressed that the program needed to be funded. Mr. Israel disagreed with Ms. Powers when she said she would like to fund the Program but the funds weren’t available. Tad Crawford read from the Annual Report and called the Program the ‘safety net’ for the under and uninsured. Sarah Kuh added that the Program only had funding to cover operating expenses for maybe 4 or 5 more months. Tristan Israel said that he had believed when the County stopped funding the Aids Alliance and MVCS, that the money would go towards funding the Health Council, but now that wasn’t happening. He questioned the ‘value judgment’ of the County Commissioners. The discussion continued with Tad Crawford urging support and Cathy Brennan and Patsy McCornack echoing that. Tristan Israel asked to be on record for questioning why there was no funding in Department 1600, Human Services, either.
The Water Testing Laboratory was discussed, with mention of the Beach Department and Mr. Culbert’s hours in each Department. Warren Doty said there was a question of priorities in County funding. He said the Water Testing could be done in Aquinnah and the Department eliminated, thus freeing $34,000 to apply to other priorities. Mr. Culbert distributed a handout that he said documented his Department’s track record. Richard Combra asked about testing of public water supplies in Oak Bluffs and other areas. Discussion continued with Mr. Doty questioning why the new piece of equipment in the Lab was not working. Rob Culbert said it was a ‘lemon.’ Mr. Early asked how the Lab’s fees compare to other Lab fees. Mr. Culbert responded that they were a little cheaper.
Mrs. Flanders reviewed Group Health and noted the increase in the number of retirees. There was some discussion about whether the 90% that the County paid for Health benefits could be reduced. Mrs. Flanders explained that any union and non-union changes would have to be made simultaneously.
Tristan Israel asked for some detail about the Recreation Department. John Early noted revenue for Beach Stickers, $40,500. Warren Doty asked why the revenues were better than projected and Mrs. Flanders answered that it depended on beach closing because of the plovers. Last year the Beach opened on July 12th so there was July revenue. There were currently three active plover nests.
Emergency Management was reviewed as was Department 2800, Housing Authority. Art Smadbeck noted that the towns ‘had stepped up to the plate’ with funding for the Housing Authority. The origin of the DCRHA was discussed.
Rodent Control Department was reviewed. Mr. Hegarty distributed a handout regarding his services. He stressed that the program has historically been considered a service. Veterans’ Services Department was reviewed.
Warren Doty asked for an explanation of the Maintenance of Effort for the Registry. Ms. Powers explained that of the 42.5% that comes back, 75% goes to the Sheriff’s Office, 15% to the County and 10% to the Registry. Mr. Doty asked about the Registry’s reserved fund. Ms. Powers said this was for upgrades to computers, various projects like microfilming, etc. Mr. Doty voiced concern over the fact that he was being asked to vote on the Sheriff’s supplemental transfers when he never received a copy of the Sheriff’s budget. He questioned allocation of overhead. Treasurer Flanders explained Maintenance of Effort and ‘in kind.’
Sean Flynn reviewed the Airport budget. Several items were discussed: wastewater, water, the cost of snow removal. Mr. Doty questioned buybacks for holiday and vacation. Mr. Flynn explained that Airport employees couldn’t carryover vacation time and that this was a provision in the Union Contract. The three non-union employees were covered under the rules of the Personnel Bylaws.
Mrs. Flanders explained ‘inches of invoices’ as a means of figuring out allocation of overhead. The remaining Departments were reviewed and the Public Hearing was Closed at 9:24 PM.
Chairman Early called the Advisory Board Meeting to order at 9:32 PM. Mrs. Flanders reviewed Supplementary Line Item Transfers line by line.
Warren Doty said he was troubled by the fact that money was being transferred to cover Carol Borer’s line items because the County Commissioners negotiated a settlement with her. He said he did not approve of the settlement. He added he would only vote for these transfers if he knew the ‘vacation story was fully resolved for everyone who draws a paycheck from the County.’ Arthur Smadbeck noted that the County had voted to do this. Mr. Doty said he disagreed with paying the money. Mr. Early reminded the Board that the money had already been paid. Mr. Doty said that it was the Advisory Board that had the authority to pay or not pay and he was present and in disagreement. Tristan Israel said he echoed that. He said the Advisory Board was the ‘only voice of the towns,’ and questioned if the payment was legitimate. Mr. Smadbeck asked if they were present to discuss where the money comes from or the philosophy of it. He noted that the Commissioners had agreed to pay it. Mr. Israel added that the Board was advisory.
Ms. Powers said the contract for the next County Manager included what can happen in these circumstances, that this had been negotiated. Mr. Doty recalled that the last County Manager had declared herself not governed by the Personnel Bylaws. Ms. Powers said the new County Manager will have a contract with the Commissioners in light of what happened. Mr. Israel asked if these issues were addressed in the contract and Ms. Powers said yes. Mr. Sawyer agreed. Mr. Doty added that it troubled him that people could buy back vacation and not take it.
Mr. Flynn reviewed the Airport transfers, explaining that there was a savings in electricity since a groundwater pump had been turned off. He also explained the need for a truck and how it would be funded. Mr. Israel suggested a capital plan that would show things like purchases of trucks.
Ms. Powers reviewed Registry line item transfers. Mr. O’Sullivan reviewed Sheriff’s Office transfers. Richard Combra questioned the COLAs in the Sheriff’s Office Budget. Mr. O’Sullivan explained they were part of Union negotiations. Mr. Doty said that he was being asked to rule on transfers for a budget he never saw. Mrs. Flanders said this budget was under the oversight of the State. Mr. Doty said he was being asked to ‘rubber stamp’ it without any knowledge or oversight. Mr. O’Sullivan explained that the State gave the Sheriff’s Office the figures. The Sheriff’s Office just justifies it.
There was discussion about what would happen if the Budget was not approved that night. Mr. Israel said he believed there was a date by which that the Budget was supposed to be presented to the Advisory Board. Ms. Powers and Mr. Early said it was in April. Mr. Smadbeck said he didn’t see this as ‘rubber stamping.’ He said this was housekeeping. Mr. Doty asked if the way people got raises was because someone quit and the money could be transferred. Commissioner Jason said the Advisory Board used to see the entire Budget, in 1994, but had then chosen just to see the maintenance of effort. Mr. Doty and Mr. Israel said from now on they wanted to see the entire budget.
Chairman Early said he would request that the County Manager provide it for Fiscal Year 2004.
Interdepartmental transfers were reviewed. The remainder of money in Carol Borer’s line item went towards legal fees along with other funds.
Carl Widdis Moved to Approve the Budget Transfers and Interdepartmental Transfers for FY 2003. Arthur Smadbeck Seconded the Motion.
Oak Bluffs – aye
Chilmark – aye
Edgartown – aye
Tisbury – aye
Aquinnah – aye
West Tisbury – aye.
The Motion Passed Unanimously.
Mrs. Flanders read a statement (attached.)
The Fiscal Year 2004 Budget was reviewed. Tristan Israel said he wanted to see the Vineyard Healthcare Access Program get the funding it wanted ($6250.) He said the County Commissioners set the direction of the Budget, but the towns had individual voices. He added that the County was in a precarious position and while the County was getting a new Manager, many in the community do not understand the County. He said there was an ambivalence and a need for meaningful human services. Mr. Israel said Mr. Hegarty’s program helps people, as does the Health Council and VHCAP. He said when the Aids Alliance and MVCS funds were cut Carol Borer said she would put funding towards the Health Council. Now the Health Council was not being supported. Mr. Israel suggested perhaps cutting the Water Testing Lab, having one trained person, scaling back, and funding instead the Health Council and VHCAP.
Mr. Smadbeck said being new on the Board, he wondered if the purpose of the Board was redesign the County Budget? He said wasn’t that the job of the County Commissioners? He added that if the discussion was going to be philosophical, he did not feel prepared to talk about it and override the Commissioners. Chairman Early said the Advisory Board was the final appropriating authority and redesigning was do-able. Discussion continued. Ms. Powers asked the Treasurer what would happen if the Budget went to the State late. Mrs. Flanders said it was not a good sign to have a late Budget. Commissioner Jason said the Commissioners had voted on the Budget. He said it wasn’t fair for the Selectmen to tell the Commissioners to provide services and then in the eleventh hour ‘cave in.’ He asked that the Advisory Board inform the Commissioners a year a head so they could plan. He added they had tried to give an honest budget and fund the rest at the Supplemental Budget. He said getting the $108,000 from the Airport would free up money for programs. Commissioner Sawyer said he had voted against the Budget and suggested approving it now, but giving the Commissioners notice so they could come back with a Supplemental Budget that would reflect what the Advisory Board wanted.
Tristan Israel said the Access Program was under-funded and to be meaningful, there had to be a commitment to it. Commissioner Jason said perhaps the Selectmen would support overriding the 2 ½ % Budget to meet these needs. Mr. Israel said that would bring up the ambivalence towards the County, the relevance of the County. Mr. Israel said the Lab was a redundant service and not bringing in revenue and yet healthcare was being under-funded. He mentioned it would take $20,000 to fund these two programs.
A series of Motions followed:
Warren Doty Moved that the VHCAP be funded, that $14,000 be added to Department 1500 to bring the total for it to $64,425.60 and that $6,000.00 be added to the Health Council Department 1510, by reducing the Water Testing Lab (Department 1610) to $48,798.76. Tristan Israel Seconded the Motion.
Ms. Powers and Mrs. Flanders asked which lines would be reduced. Chairman Early said specific lines had to be discussed. Steve Berlucchi suggested doing a ‘straw vote’ in case the motion wouldn’t carry and it was a moot point.
Straw vote in favor of the Motion:
Oak Bluffs – yes
Chilmark – yes
Edgartown – no
Tisbury – yes
Aquinnah – yes
West Tisbury – no
(New weighted vote certified for 2004-2005 being used as required by State.)
Commissioner Strauss suggested giving the Commissioners the opportunity to find the $20,000. He added that a lab of this size in the private sector would normally have one person doing it all. He wasn’t sure if a small lab could support more than one full-time employee, but this Lab had two part-time employees. He added that the Lab was not set up to make a profit.
Tristan Israel asked to Amend his Motion to let the County Commissioners recommend which line items from the Water Lab the funds should come from.
Commissioner Jason asked that the Commissioners be allowed to find the money anywhere. He questioned taking all the money from one Department.
Tristan Israel withdrew his Motion. Warren Doty withdrew his Second.
Tristan Israel Moved to fund Department 1500 for $65,425.60 and to add $6,000.00 to Department 1510 and not increase the overall budget. Warren Doty Seconded the Motion.
Mrs. Flanders said the Board had to approve a line item Budget.
The Motion and Second were withdrawn.
Tristan Israel Moved that the two Departments be funded, 1500 - $64,425.60 and 1510 - $6000. Warren Doty Seconded the Motion.
Oak Bluffs – yes
Chilmark – yes
Edgartown – no
Tisbury – yes
Aquinnah – yes
West Tisbury – no
The Motion carried.
Warren Doty thanked Ms. Powers and Mrs. Flanders for presenting a responsible, tight budget.
Tristan Israel Moved that the meeting adjourn. Richard Combra Seconded the Motion. The meeting Adjourned at 11:18 PM.
John Early, Chairman
County of Dukes County Advisory Board