Commonwealth of Massachusetts
COUNTY OF DUKES COUNTY
ADVISORY BOARD ON COUNTY EXPENDITURES
May 11, 2011
Members Present: Arthur Smadbeck – Edgartown 35.96%
Jeff Kristal – Tisbury 14.86%
Skipper Manter – West Tisbury 14.20%
Walter Vail – Oak Bluffs 14.87%
Not Present: Frank Fenner – Chilmark
Jim Newman - Aquinnah
Also present: County Manager Russell H. Smith
Exec. Assistant to County Manager Martina Thornton
Register of Deeds Dianne Powers
Oak Bluffs Administrator Michael Dutton
*County Commissioners Carlene Gatting, Tom Hallahan, Melinda Loberg
* Tad Crawford
Mr. Smadbeck called the meeting to order at 11:05am.
FY2012 Registry of Deeds Budget – Dianne Powers informed the County Advisory Board (CAB) that in the past she would submit the budget for review. This year would be the first year that the CAB would actually approve the budget based on recommendation by the auditor in the Management letter. The Maintenance of Effort the Registry gets from the County is set by law and it is the only portion of the Registry budget that affects the County budget. The County receives portion of the deeds excise tax and portion of the recording fees. There is a bill proposing to raise the registry fees by $10, which now has been presented as amendment to the Governor’s budget. If approved, it would raise approximately additional $90K for the County. In the Registries that are owned by the State the additional proceeds would
go to the State. There will be a one time additional expense for change of the software to reflect the new fee amounts. The last increase in recording fees that benefited the County was in 1981. In 2003 there was a major change in the recording fees (For example: deed recording fee went from $25 to $125 and discharge recording from $10 to $75). All of the additional fees went to the State. All the fees are ultimately paid by the taxpayers and Dianne personally is not in favor of another increase. Russell said that the rule is that the outside sections of the budget should not be involving any money and under this rule this bill should not be passed, however the legislator can always change the rules.
Skipper asked Dianne if the Registry needs the same amount of fulltime personnel in these slow times and if there could be some reduction in workforce implemented (hours cut etc.) Dianne replied that one person was on sick leave in last couple of months and so they were just fine. The other argument against it is that the workload can pick up very quickly if the interest rates go down and people start refinancing. She is not planning to lay anybody off.
Skipper/ Jeff moved to approve the Registry of Deeds FY 2012 budget as presented. So voted. All present CAB members were in favor.
* Carlene, Tom, Melinda and Tad joined the meeting.
FY2012 County Budget - Russell informed the CAB that there have been no changes in the budget since the last joint meeting. Skipper said he would still prefer to see a clearer picture of the savings to the County as the towns take over another 10% of the non-mandated programs. Art said that the vote to take these programs over was not to create reduction of the County’s expenses, the County was not able to fund these programs and the towns who want to participate are voting it at the annual meeting. Once the Sheriff’s unfunded retiree liabilities are paid of there will be reduction in the assessment to $300K, which will also reduce the 2.5% increase. Skipper suggested looking at a long-term plan for the County. Currently there is not plan for building maintenance etc. He also suggested that
there is no need for two full-time administration positions and that 1.5 or 1 person could do the job. He proposed to cut the Manager’s budget line by half to make him part-time. The savings would increase the surplus and eventually go to the reserve fund. Carlene suggested that the County Commissioners should discuss this option first and she will bring this suggestion to the Commissioners’ meeting on May 18th (next Wednesday). Russell said that after 30 year in public service he had the opinion that a regional government is needed and using the County structure would be more effective than creating several separate regional entities. The idea that he only manages 5 people is a wrong perception of what the County Manager does and it is a mistake to cut the position to part-time.
Jeff/Walter moved to approve the FY2012 County Budget as presented. So voted. All present CAB members were in favor. (Edgartown, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury).
Sheriff’s Maintenance of Effort (MOE)
Art thanked Noreen for the e-mail regarding the PERAC decision on funding schedule for the Sheriff’s retiree unfunded liability (see attached). According to the e-mail it will be paid off in FY2013. The last payment will be $307,540. This will allow for a reduction of the town assessment.
Skipper/Jeff moved to adjourn the meeting at 11:40am.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts
- FY2012 Registry of Deeds budget
- E-mail from the County Treasurer regarding Sheriff’s MOE