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Advisory Board Minutes 2006-02-22

DUKES COUNTY ADVISORY BOARD FOR EXPENDITURES
Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.
County Retirement and Administration Rooms

Call to Order
Chairman John Early, West Tisbury CAB representative (14.05%) called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm.  County Advisory Board Members present included: Art Smadbeck, Edgartown representative (32.85%) and Tristan Israel, Tisbury representative (13.82%) for 60.72% of the weighted vote.

Other representatives or visitors present included: Noreen Mavro Flanders, County Treasurer, County Manager E. Winn Davis (joined meeting in progress), Sheriff Michael McCormack, Dukes County Sheriff; Jim Kinsella of the Vineyard Gazette; Ezra Blair, Martha's Vineyard Times; Diane Powers, Register of Deeds; TJ Hegarty, Rodent Control Officer; and Dan Flynn, Oak Bluffs Resident.

When the County Advisory Board members joined the Dukes County Commissioners meeting in progress at 7:00 pm the following additional individuals were present:  Dukes County Commissioners John Alley, Leonard Jason, Jr., Leslie Leland, Robert M. Sawyer, and Nelson Smith; County Manager E. Winn Davis and Deborah H. Potter, Executive Assistant were also present.  

Other representatives or visitors present included, Joanie Ames of MVTV; Jim Kinsella of the Vineyard Gazette; Ezra Blair, Martha's Vineyard Times; Sheriff Michael McCormack, Dukes County Sheriff; Noreen Mavro Flanders, Dukes County Treasurer; and John Coskie, Citizen.
Adoption of Minutes:

The minutes of the Advisory Board meeting of February 15, 2006 were deferred.

New Business:
Mr. Early asked Mr. Davis to explain the changes within the new budget.  He noted that issues raised by the advisory board had been considered in bringing the budget into balance.  

Mr. Davis stated the major changes include:
Legal:  Reduced from $25,000 to $15,000 which is reflective of historical amounts for this line item
Temporary Employee:                     Reduced from $2,500 to $1,000
In state Travel:                                Reduced from $1,000 to $500
Janitorial Service for Admin Bldg:              Reduced by $2,000
Treasurers Department:                  Reduced by $13,000 for software

Increases in Revenue:
Engineering Fees        1000 hours per year for Tips program with a fee of $50 per hour which can be
        Reimbursed.
Rodent control Fees                     Increased fee by $5,000
From $15,000 to $20,000
Adjusted by existing contracts which already increase revenue by $1500
Airport, Beach, and other groups not currently charged now will be.
                                                Increase expense slightly to private
and possibly public fees.

Mr. Smadbeck suggested instead of creating a confusing pricing structure to just raise rates in one area.  Mr. Israel noted that he does not like the towns having to pay an additional fee for each visit.  Mr. Smadbeck noted that he had spoken with his Board of Health Agent and other officials and they found the service extremely valuable.  Mr. Israel also noted that Tisbury’s BOH agent found the program valuable and that if revenue was going to be increased it should be from individuals or groups outside of the towns.  Mr. Davis noted that this area was flexible.  

Mr. Early asked if a COLA was included and Mr. Davis replied it was not.  Mr. Israel stated that if we cut the county engineer budget, the towns could contract for the services of the engineer outside of the county to save money.

Mr. Davis added the additional changes to the revenue in the budget:
Beach Management                        Charge for Admin services $2,500
VHCAP   Voluntary contribution of $1 per visit for apx $2,400

Mr. Davis remarked that the Veterans’ Agent was not being assessed any type of fee or contribution as it is a State mandated program.  

Mr. Early recapped the changes and Mr. Israel asked about changes in the Health and Environment Department.  Mr. Davis noted this was a scrivener’s error in that the hours were included but the revenue generated was not accurately reported.  There was some additional discussion on the changes to the Engineers Department and the increases to revenue.  Mr. Davis noted that at the last meeting it was acknowledged that the expense side of the budget would be difficult to reduce but it would be more advantageous to increase revenue.  Noreen Mavro Flanders questioned why Mr. Israel was willing to contract for engineering services outside of the county but not at a reduced fee within the county.  Mr. Smadbeck noted that either way the engineer was needed for TIPS programs; therefore, the towns can either engage services of the county engineer at a reduced rate or go out on the open market and pay a market rate.  He added that before they jettison the idea of additional fees for the engineer, they should look at what the difference is and discuss the suggestion further.
Noreen Mavro Flanders also noted that the TIPS programs reimburse the towns only and that the county does not receive any money from the grants.  After some additional discussion on the Engineer and TIPS, Mr. Davis noted that there were still two unresolved issues regarding the FAA Rent and Lawsuit free cash which ultimately affect the availability of funds.  Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that at the last meeting the Advisory Board asked for a balanced budget and stated it was the County’s responsibility to determine how to do that which is what was done.  

After some additional discussion, Mr. Israel went on record as stating that the COLA needs to be included because the employees deserve one.  Mr. Early adjourned the meeting so that the Advisory Board members could join the Dukes County Commissioners meeting.

Both boards were called back to order by their respective Chairs at 7:00 pm.  Mr. Early noted that the CAB was appreciative of the fact that a balanced budget was presented.  Mr. Smadbeck advised that each member would make sure they would advise each of their towns about the changes in the Engineering structure to make sure everyone understands the effects.  He also added they were all pleased with the changes in the Rodent Control Department.

Mr. Alley noted that at the last meeting, he heard several times, everyone questioning why the engineering department did not show any revenue.  Mr. Alley noted that he derived the $50.00 fee was by taking an average rate of $100 per hour and then cutting it in half.  Mr. Israel stated that he felt serious strides were made in other areas of the budget but needed to go back to his town to discuss the impact of the additional fees and to confirm if the TIP program fees were reimbursable.  Mr. Israel also asked if the County intended to add a COLA to the budget.  Mr. Davis advised that he was still working on the comparison of 90/10 verses 75/25 for health care contributions and the relationship to the cola and should have a report fairly soon.

Mr. Kinsella asked if the additions/deletions could be identified and Mr. Davis reported the following changes (as described to the Advisory Board earlier):

Legal:  Reduced from $25,000 to $15,000 which is reflective of historical amounts for this line item
Temporary Employee:                     Reduced from $2,500 to $1,000
In state Travel:                                Reduced from $1,000 to $500
Janitorial Service for Admin Bldg:              Reduced by $2,000
Treasurers Department:                  Reduced by $13,000 for software

Increases in Revenue:
Engineering Fees        1000 hours per year for Tips program with a fee of $50 per hour which can be
        Reimbursed.
Rodent control Fees                     Increased fee by $5,000
From $15,000 to $20,000
Adjusted by existing contracts which already increase revenue by $1500
Airport, Beach, and other groups not currently charged now will be.
                                                Increase expense slightly to private
and possibly public fees.
Beach Management                        Charge for Admin services $2,500
VHCAP   Voluntary contribution of $1 per visit for apx $2,400

Mr. Early asked the Commissioners what was their thinking on the COLA.  Mr. Jason stated he was trying to do some quick math to compare COLA, salaries, step increases, and health insurance benefit values and while he would like to give county employees a COLA, he is not sure if it is possible with the existing financial situation.  Sheriff McCormack asked if the commissioners had considered differences in pay for similar jobs between the towns and county for it was his sense that the towns paid more than the county for similar positions.  Mr. Davis noted that we were trying to correlate figures for similar positions.  Mr. Wey asked how long would it take to gather the information and Mr. Davis replied about two weeks.  Both Mr. Israel and Mr. Jason asked where do you get the money.  Mr. Wey stated that somehow the county should try to find the money for a COLA.  Mr. Smadbeck noted that we should find the money first and then everyone can discuss how to implement it.  Mr. Jason asked if the CAB had any ideas for getting the money for COLA and Mr. Early noted that by eliminating the Engineering and Rodent Control programs, about $110,000 for a COLA could become available in accordance with the last budget.  Mr. Davis noted that with the changes in the fee structure to the Engineering Department, the net would be far less.

Dianne Powers asked if either Board had considered requesting an override for the single line item of a COLA for the County Employees.  Mr. Israel noted that there were some changes that affected the budget from last week to this week and that in his opinion an override would not pass.  Mr. Smadbeck noted that he would talk to people within his community but did not think an override would pass in his town and Dianne Powers stated that she disagreed.  She also noted that it would be a shame to lose the Engineering Department because that department provides a very valuable service to the towns.  

Mr. Early asked what are the statutory requirements for an override and Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that they have never met the requirements but that has not affected the ability to get the legislation passed. She noted that was one of the reasons the budget process was started so much earlier this year.  Mr. Alley noted that the only override ever done by the County was done by special town meeting and it must be passed by 4 out of the 7 towns by weighted vote.  After some additional discussion, Mr. Alley stated they would double-check the requirements.  

Mr. Sawyer noted that he is against an override and thinks that we have to find another solution.  He added that we somehow need to offer a COLA but it doesn’t need to be as high as the towns.  He is looking at perhaps a 2% Cola, which is about $50,000, and the County is looking at other revenue resources.

Mr. Wey said that everyone should re-look at the budget and get information from the towns and constituents and try to find a way to provide the cola to the employees who deserve it.  Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that in 4 years there has been a 1.5% COLA.  She stated that if that information is brought to the attention of the voters with the information the towns have received 4% COLA’s over the years each and every year.  Dianne Powers noted that this fact makes the Health Care differential irrelevant and for FY07 it shouldn’t be an issue but it could be considered for future COLA’s.  Tristan Israel noted that the only way to provide for this would then be to find ways to cut the budget.  Dianne Powers also noted that there has been no discussion regarding the increases in the VHCAP and perhaps this is not the year to accept all of these increases.  Mr. Jason noted that the VHCAP increases were equivalent to a 1% COLA.

Mr. Sawyer added that whenever a program is cut it is only a short-term solution but hurts the community at large and Mr. Early noted it was only a budget balancing solution.  Mr. Wey asked again about the FAA money that is outstanding and Mr. Davis noted that while there was some agreement on certain aspects of the proposal it cannot be counted on until the agreement is finalized and the treble damage issue is resolved which will release our free cash.

Mr. Jason asked how much was the net from the FAA money and was advised it was about $110,000.  He made a suggestion to agree to proceed with the balanced budget and when the FAA money is approved, it could be applied to a 2% cola retroactive to this date.  Mr. Israel asked how certain is this reimbursement from the FAA and was advised that it was highly probable and moving in the right direction.  

Mr. Davis reminded both Boards that he would be away until March 8th.  Mr. Early announced the next meeting of the CAB would be on March 8 at 6:00 pm in the Retirement Room and then join the DCC at 7:00 in the Admin Meeting Room.  

Calendar:
·       The next Dukes County Advisory Board Meeting is Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 6 p.m. at the Administration Building then joining the Dukes County Commissioners meeting in progress at 7 pm in the Admin Building Meeting Room.
·       The Dukes County Commissioners meet Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 6 pm in the Admin building meeting room.
·       The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority meets TBD at the DCRHA building, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
·       The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets Wednesday, March 15, 2006 5 p.m. at the General Aviation Building
·       The Steamship Authority meets Tuesday, March 21, 2006 in Woods Hole
·       The Dukes County Health Council meets Thursday, March 23, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building

Adjournment:
With no further business, the Chairmen of both boards adjourned the meetings at 7:42 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted by:


_______________________________________
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts392006_43720_0.bmp




 
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