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County Commission Minutes 07/11/01

A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, July 11, 2001, at 7:30 p.m. in the Conference Room of the County Administration Building, notice of such meeting having been posted as required by law.

Commissioners Present:  Leslie H. Leland, Chairman
                                E. B. Collins
                                Roger Wey       
                                Leonard Jason, Jr.
                                Robert Sawyer
                                Daniel Flynn
                                John Alley
Also Present:  Carol Borer, County Manager      
                  Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant
                  Noreen Flanders, County Treasurer
                  Sheriff McCormack
                  JB Riggs Parker, SSA Representative
                  Sara Schapiro, MV Times
                  Julie Wells, Vineyard Gazette
Chairman Leland called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. and welcomed everyone to the first meeting of the County Commissioners to be held in the new County Administration Building Conference Room.  
Commissioner Collins Moved that the Minutes of June 27, 2001
be approved as written.  Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion and the Minutes were approved unanimously.

The County Manager began her report by asking for a vote to
establish a fuel revolving fund based on 1992 Legislation.  Commissioner Flynn made the Motion that was Seconded by Commissioner Jason.  The Vote to pass the Motion was unanimous.
Commissioner Alley Moved that the County Commissioners
authorize the County Treasurer to borrow up to $500,000 in anticipation of revenue.  Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion that passed unanimously.

The County Commissioners asked the County Manager to update them on the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority’s progress with their needs assessment and rental surveys.

Mrs. Borer reminded the Commissioners that the next meeting would be
July 25th on Cuttyhunk Island.  The County Manager also mentioned that the Retirement Board’s Hearing for their building addition with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission will be held on July 19th.  

There was discussion of a complaint to evict John Vogel, Airport Business Park tenant.  Commissioner Sawyer was concerned that the issue had not been brought before the County Commissioners, yet their name was on the complaint.  Chairman Leland agreed that this was of concern. Commissioner Flynn suggested phoning Airport Manager Weibrecht for an explanation.  Commissioner Wey thought the Commissioners should have the opportunity to vote on something like this. Commissioner Jason said perhaps it was an error on the part of Counsel.  He said the County Commissioners appoint the Airport Commission to deal with these matters and the County Manager should ask Counsel Cini for an explanation.  Chairman Leland asked the County Manager to find out who was responsible for the County Commissioners’ name being on the complaint and why.

Mrs. Borer mentioned that five towns had agreed to participate in the Housing Rehabilitation Grant application.  Commissioner Jason asked about Gosnold and the County Manager agreed to ask Gosnold if they had an interest in participating.

Commissioner Sawyer reported that the Health Care Services Procurement Committee voted to accept the one proposal received, that of the MV Hospital, for $495,000.  

Representative to the SSA, JB Riggs Parker, was asked to update the Commissioners on SSA issues.  He reported that a Hearing was scheduled the following day in Hyannis, by the Joint Transportation Committee.  The Bill would modify the SSA to provide for 5 members (adding Barnstable and New Bedford.)  Martha’s Vineyard would have a 30% vote and Nantucket 25%, so the Islands would retain control if they voted together.  (Each mainland town would have a 15% vote.) Mr. Parker was uncertain about how the Hearing would go, since he believed Nantucket was opposed to this plan.  Commissioner Wey asked for Mr. Parker’s position.  Mr. Parker stated that the Legislature is responsible for setting up the framework, and so they can change it.  He said he did not believe an Authority member had to take a position.  Rather, he believed it was his responsibility to make whatever the Legislature decided, work.  He stressed that the Authority must be free to do its job.  Commissioner Alley asked if Mr. Parker supported the changes.  Mr. Parker responded that he believed it was not appropriate for him to take a personal position.  

Noreen Flanders asked what message Mr. Parker would carry from the Islanders to the Hearing.  Mr. Parker said that if asked to speak, he would say it was “time to get on with it.”

Mr. Parker said he preferred a 3 member Board, but did not see 5 as a threat. He said if control was shifted away from the Islands, that would be a threat, and he would oppose it. Commissioners Alley and Wey opposed Mr. Parker’s statement that he did not see 5 members as a threat.  Commissioner Flynn discussed his experience on the Task Force, and agreed that it was not Mr. Parker’s job to be a representative before the Legislature.  He reiterated that Mr. Parker was appointed by the Commissioners to represent them at the SSA.  

Commissioner Collins voiced concern about expanding the SSA to 4 or 5, stating that if one Island member was absent, the Mainland would have a majority.  Mr. Parker agreed there appeared to be a quorum flaw (3 makes a quorum.)  He said several technical issues needed to be adjusted.  

Commissioner Flynn regretted that the Island had not organized a party to attend the Hearing, as Nantucket had.  He said there should be a vote of confidence to be taken to that Hearing.  Commissioner Jason said Mr. Parker had done an exemplary job and was taking the right course of action.  Mrs. Borer stated that it was unfortunate that the All Island Selectmen hadn’t met before the Hearing so the towns could speak with one voice.

Commissioner Flynn said the County Commissioners are the regional voice.  What message will their representative bring?

Commissioner Sawyer agreed that Mr. Parker had made an enormous commitment to this issue and asked that the Commissioners support him.  Commissioner Sawyer said his cause for concern was that the perception would be that the Islands are taking different paths.  Mr. Parker said the perception is real, but facts don’t support it.  He added that he wouldn’t support anything in respect to Nantucket that Nantucket didn’t want, but that the Vineyard had not received that kind of support.  Discussion continued with Commissioners reiterating their positions.  Commissioner Flynn asked what the alternative was?  Commissioner Sawyer said not supporting Barnstable would create antagonism.  Commissioner Jason said it would be better to have 5 members and maintain control than an unknown.
Commissioner Wey said what’s next then, delete the Islands?  Commissioner Alley agreed with that, stating, “we’re not in a position to give away the store.”

Commissioner Jason said, “What if it does us in?”  Commissioner Flynn asked what that message would be to Falmouth?  
Commissioner Collins said the Legislation does not address the overall traffic picture in SE Massachusetts.  He added there needs to be a comprehensive plan that includes all forms of transportation and that doesn’t require a change in Legislature.  Commissioner Flynn said it does require a change, but agreed there’s a need for a comprehensive plan.  Commissioner Collins said the fundamental plan is to aid in the economic recovery of New Bedford.  He’s opposed to taking from one to aid another.  

Commissioner Jason asked, “How do we honor our commitments to Woods Hole and Hyannis?”  Commissioner Collins said, “make sure our representative does the job we set out for him to accomplish.”

Commissioner Sawyer said Senator O’Leary believes Barnstable should have a weighted vote.  Commissioner Collins said that was appropriate.

Commissioner Flynn asked if the Commissioners would give their representative a vote of confidence.  Mrs. Borer mentioned the Resolution the County Commissioners agreed supporting a 3 member Authority, and in which they said that giving New Bedford a vote was premature.  In that Resolution, they supported letting the planning process happen for transportation.  Commissioner Collins said lots of years went by until a non-voting member joined the SSA and the SSA was viable then.  And now the member will get a vote?

Mr. Parker said the Board has policy about adjustments that pay past obligations to the Vineyard.  

Commissioner Sawyer asked if the County Commissioners wanted to take a position to support the status quo.  Commissioner Jason said the change is going to happen.  Commissioner Wey disagreed with going along with it.  Mrs. Flanders asked why Commissioner Flynn had changed his stance.  He answered that he learned a lot on the Task Force, got “a political education,” and felt a lot of work and thought had gone into the Kass Report.
Commissioner Jason Moved the position that changing the Legislation is premature, but if Legislation must change, the Islands must maintain voting control.  Commissioner Flynn seconded the Motion.
There was some discussion that included Commissioner Collins’ remarks asking if it was wise to present a statement without elaborating on it.  Commissioner Wey wondered if the Resolution should be amended.  Commissioner Flynn said it would be a disservice to the SSA representative to not unanimously endorse his efforts.
The Motion on the County Commissioners’ position was brought to a vote.  Commissioners Jason, Sawyer, Leland and Collins voted in favor.  Commissioners Wey and Alley voted opposed.  Commissioner Flynn abstained.  The Motion passed.

Commissioner Flynn Moved that the Commissioners issue a vote of confidence for SSA representative JB Riggs Parker.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.  Commissioners Collins, Leland, Flynn, Jason and Sawyer were favor of the vote.  Commissioners Alley and Wey were opposed.  There were no abstentions. The Motion carried.

Chairman Leland brought up the next item on the Agenda, County Police.  The Sheriff reviewed the possibilities of such a Police force, stating that the County could then take care of some of its own needs.  Chairman Leland asked why there was a need for County Police.  The Sheriff said it would be an alternative way to handle the need for some public services, like providing Courthouse security and policing County property.  There was discussion of other County’s that have police.  Commissioners Flynn and Collins will be on the Subcommittee to study this issue.

Commissioner Collins Moved that the meeting adjourn.  Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion. The meeting adjourned at 9:07 PM.

Complete text of meeting is available on tape at the County Commissioner’s office.


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