DUKES COUNTY ADVISORY BOARD FOR EXPENDITURES
Wednesday, March 8, 2006 at 6:00 p.m.
County Retirement Room
Call to Order
Acting Chair Art Smadbeck, Edgartown representative (32.85%) called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. County Advisory Board Members present included: Tristan Israel, Tisbury representative (13.82%), Michael Dutton, Oak Bluffs representative (15.27%), and Warren Doty, Chilmark representative (19.20%) for 81.14% of the weighted vote. Chairman John Early, West Tisbury CAB representative (14.05%) arrived at 7:00 p.m. bringing the weighted vote to 95.19%.
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 (joined meeting in progress); John Alley, Dukes County Commissioner (joined meeting in progress); Leonard Jason Jr., Dukes County Commissioner (joined meeting in progress); Dan Flynn, Oak Bluffs resident, Stuart Fuller, Edgartown Highway Department; Fred LaPiana, DPW Tisbury; Jim Kinsella of the Vineyard Gazette; Ezra Blair, Martha's Vineyard Times; Steve Berlucchi, Dukes County Engineer; Diane Powers, Register of Deeds; TJ Hegarty, Rodent Control Officer; and Dan Flynn, Oak Bluffs Resident.
Adoption of Minutes:
Tristan Israel moved, seconded by Michael Dutton, to approve the minutes of the County Advisory Board meeting of February 08, 2006 and SO VOTED unanimously (4-0-0) with the following changes:
Delete second “are” from second line of second paragraph on page two
Tristan Israel moved, seconded by Art Smadbeck, to approve the minutes of the County Advisory Board meeting of February 22, 2006 and SO VOTED with the following change:
§ Remove clause incorrectly stating “A quorum was present with 75.99% of the weighted vote” that was inadvertently left in the first paragraph
Warren Doty moved, seconded by Art Smadbeck, to approve the minutes of the County Advisory Board meeting of February 15, 2006 and SO VOTED unanimously.
§ Mr. Israel reiterated his belief that the CAB requested that the County not spend any more money on the airport litigation issue, other than to appeal the treble damages, and that was not what he was hearing at the last County Commissioners meeting. Art Smadbeck digressed by noting that the motion was not to spend any more money on the issue unless they came back to the CAB for approval first. Mr. Doty noted that it wasn’t an appeal on the treble damages but a request for re-consideration which is different from a legal standpoint.
§ Noreen Mavro Flanders presented an analysis of the County Employee benefits to identify if the 90% contribution by the County towards health care proved to be a greater financial benefit than the respective town’s COLA. Ms. Flanders advised that when the relative salary and COLA figures of the towns (Edgartown, Chilmark, Tisbury, and West Tisbury) with a 75% health benefit compared to the County Employees at 90%, the figures demonstrate that the County employee is the least compensated of the five compared. Mr. Doty noted that the problem in county pay begins in FY2004 when no COLA was paid and has subsequently hurt county salaries a great deal.
Noreen Mavro Flanders also explained that the current budget proposes a 2% COLA for non-union employees who are not covered for COLA increases within their respective union agreements. Mr. Davis, who joined the meeting, advised on the progress of resolving the ongoing issue with the FAA and stated that the funds should be available within FY07. Mr. Dutton asked if the state would ratify the budget as presented and Mr. Davis replied that they would. Mr. Doty asked if the County had any stabilization funds and Ms. Flanders advised that we do not and the only reserve funds that the county has is the general reserve fund currently restricted by the auditors in response to the ongoing airport litigation and the pending FAA rent issue.
There was some additional discussion on the relative position of the county as compared to the previous year and Mr. Dutton noted that Mr. Doty was trying to ascertain if the existing reserve funds would cover any liability for the lawsuit and still enable the paying of the COLA. Mr. Israel then noted that he was still unsure about the revenue increase in the Engineers Department.
A long and detailed discussion regarding the Engineer’s Department, how the hours are allocated, if the hours cover TIPS projects or not, and how this affects the towns ensued. Mr. LaPiana added that the JTC is trying to regionalize many of these projects to the benefit of the entire island and that these efforts rely heavily upon the availability of the county engineer and noted that the island needs a “regional” asset to take advantage of the monies available through chapter 90 that address island wide needs. Mr. Davis reiterated that the CAB had asked the county to find additional sources of revenue and that is what was accomplished. Mr. Davis noted that the cost analysis provided regarding the engineer fees shows how much each town is really paying for the engineer’s services
and how much more expensive that service would be if privately contracted. Mr. Israel stated he wanted to double-check the figures because he thought the figures for the private engineer fees were to high. After some additional discussion, Mr. Doty asked how the additional revenue was going to be generated and Mr. Davis replied it would be an additional fee to the towns who use the TIPS program.
Mr. Early arrived and Mr. Smadbeck gave him a brief update while Mr. Davis noted the details of the COLA and the Health Care comparison. Mr. Early asked where the COLA funds were coming from and Mr. Davis advised primarily from the funds owed to the County from the FAA back rent. Noreen Mavro Flanders then added, in response to an earlier question, that the total amount due on the lawsuit, if it stands, that has not already been paid is $375,912.00 with $221,000 in reserve. Mr. Smadbeck asked that if the reconsideration request results in reducing the treble damages what is owed and Noreen Mavro Flanders stated that money is already in reserve in the airport funds and would not result in any additional payment from the County.
Mr. Israel returned the conversation back to TIPS and the engineering department for further discussion. Mr. Dutton noted that instead of eliminating departments that don’t produce revenue, but are useful, some expenses may need to be re-allocated back to the towns even though that may not be the town’s first choice. Mr. Berlucchi again noted the cost analysis of the actual expense to the town’s and described how other than his fee, no other expense is incurred by the County for his department. Additionally, Mr. Berlucchi noted that the $100 hourly fee for a private engineer is probably too low for the Vineyard. He also added that the process to be certified for TIPS programs as an individual would be extensive and expensive and this is not something he is willing to do.
Once again Mr. LaPiana noted the value of the engineer and how as an individual consultant, the money available from the state for island wide projects would not be accessible as they are now through the county.
Mr. Early noted that the Dukes County Commissioners would be losing their quorum but the members of the Advisory Board wanted to continue their discussion on the budget. Some additional discussion on the implementation of the new fees for the use of the engineer’s department occurred. Ultimately, Mr. Smadbeck proposed that instead of charging a fee to the TIPS users, that a straight fee of $35.00 for each hour of the engineer’s time used which would still be a bargain to the towns since it was a service provided at a substantially reduced rate. Mr. LaPiana indicated that the proposal was acceptable to him and Mr. Israel noted that if it was acceptable to Mr. LaPiana it was fine with him.
Mr. Early asked if Mr. Smadbeck was making that as a motion and Mr. Smadbeck moved, seconded by Mike Dutton, to accept the change that the engineer’s revenue be assessed as a straight fee of $35.00 for each hour of the engineer’s time used and SO VOTED with the following role call vote:
Oak Bluffs Aye
West Tisbury Aye
Mr. Israel also restated that the changes to the Rodent Control department would increase fees to the private sector as opposed to charging the towns more for his services. Mr. Smadbeck noted he was in agreement with this proposal.
Mr. Doty asked about the Dukes County commissioner’s budget and asked why there was an increase in this line. Mr. Davis noted that the change was a result of hiring a replacement for Mr. Kinal and to replace the omission of the $12,000 liability insurance premium that was paid but not indicated on the budget. Mr. Early asked where the $2500 revenue was coming from and Noreen Mavro Flanders indicated that it was a beach management fee that will be assessed to the DCR grant.
Mr. Doty also asked about the Health and Environment Revenue and Mr. Davis responded that it was from Water Testing with the Tribe and through services provided to the Oak Bluffs Health Department. Mr. Doty also asked about the changes to the National Resources department and Mr. Davis replied the county has not replaced personnel that left and that the Sheriff was now in charge of the beaches. Mr. Doty asked about the revenue and Mr. Davis explained that when the TTOR begin managing Norton Point, they will keep the revenue generated from the Over Sand beach stickers to cover their initial capital expenses and then the revenue will be divided between the TTOR and the county. Mr. Doty then asked if the status of the airport lawsuit was being monitored and Mr. Davis stated that is was and we just recently
received word of the new judge being assigned. Mr. Doty stated he thought the judge had thirty days to issue a ruling on the reconsideration and Mr. Dutton replied there was no time limit on how long a judge could take to make a decision.
Mr. Dutton asked if we need to budget for the County Charter commission and Mr. Davis advised that we need to wait until the commission is convened to know what the expense will be.
Mr. Smadbeck moved, seconded by Mr. Dutton, to accept the Draft FY07 budget with the changes as described tonight and SO VOTED unanimously with the following roll call vote:
Oak Bluffs Aye
West Tisbury Aye
· The next Dukes County Advisory Board Meeting is Wednesday, April 5, 2006 at 7 p.m. at the Administration Building Meeting Room (changed to April 12, 2006)
With no further business, the Chairmen Early adjourned the meeting at 8:05 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts