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County Commission Minutes 09/12/01

A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, September 12, 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
                  David Kann, Director, Wastewater Treatment Facility
                  Dianne Powers, Register of Deeds
                  Noreen Flanders, County Treasurer
                  Sheriff McCormack
 Marvin Joslow, Aquinnah rep. Emergency Services
       Procurement Committee
 Patricia Begley, Tisbury rep. EMS Procurement Committee
Julia Wells, Vineyard Gazette
 S. Kitt Johnson, Edgartown Finance Committee
 Tom Pachico, Tisbury, Selectman
 Woody Williams, Tisbury resident
Chairman Leland called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.

Commissioner Collins Moved that the Minutes of August 22, 2001
be approved as written.  Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion.
The Minutes were approved with Commissioner Alley Abstaining.

Commissioner Wey asked for a minute of silence in memory of the victims of the World Trade Center tragedy.  The meeting continued after this solemn recognition of loss.

Chairman Leland reported on the County’s trip to Cuttyhunk, where officials met with Alan Wilder and Selectmen Donald Lynch and Gail Blaut to discuss ways the County can assist Gosnold.  The Cuttyhunk Selectmen voiced appreciation of the Rodent Control Program and County Engineer services.

(Commissioner Jason arrived at 7:37 PM)

Chairman Leland read a statement in which he said it was unfortunate that there’s been so much confusion about the administrative fees and facts surrounding the Intermunicipal Agreement.  He said he asked the County Manager to present facts and figures concerning this issue.  After the County Manager’s presentation, the County Commissioners would have the opportunity to discuss the facts.  The Public would then be given the opportunity to comment.

Mrs. Borer reviewed the highlights of the development of the RFP for the Procurement of Emergency Medical Services.  The Contract was awarded to the sole bidder, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.  The Committee focused on the terms of negotiations for the Contract.  The RFP contained a Service Plan, Staffing Plan, Job Descriptions, Equipment Plan, Financial Plan, and other necessary documents.  

Mrs. Borer reviewed sections 13 (a) and 13 (b) of the Contract, the first dealing with financial statements, and the second with monthly activity reports.  The County Manager explained the Contract for managing the $495,000 Agreement.  While the Intermunicipal Agreement states the towns would pay for administration of the Contract, Mrs. Borer said the Hospital was willing to make the payment.  This would avoid additional costs to the Towns.  Expenses for managing the Contract range from $37,500 to $52,500.  An accounting of the anticipated expenses was distributed.  Mrs. Borer went over each expense and explained how it was derived.  

(Patti Begley entered at 7:50 PM)

Commissioner Collins asked if this reporting would require additional staff.  Mrs. Borer said yes.  Mrs. Borer distributed report forms and showed the printout for the 2061 Emergency Room patients for the month of July.

Commissioner Sawyer, Chair of the Emergency Medical Services Procurement Committee distributed and read a statement (attached,) in which he stated facts.

Commissioner Wey disagreed with Commissioner Sawyer, stating he never saw or discussed the Agreement about Administrative Fees or any of the costs. He suggested the Committee look to lower the costs and voiced his disappointment.

Commissioner Jason asked if as a member of the Emergency Medical Services Procurement Committee (EMSPC) he wanted the requirements restructured.  Commissioner Wey said yes, find the money somewhere.
Discussion continued about the amount of requirements included in 13 (a) and (b).  Mrs. Borer explained that the EMSPC wanted patient tracking that turned out to be extensive.  Commissioner Collins said that if the Committee had been aware of the cost of this data, more concern would have been given to the extent of data that was being required.  He said he was not aware of what collecting this data involved and asked that the Committee re-evaluate requirements based on cost.  He continued to say that it was important not to change the agreement the Towns signed.  Commissioner Alley agreed with Commissioner Collins that the issue should go back to Committee.

Commissioner Flynn regretted that the County Commissioners were not better informed about these matters.  He questioned recovering costs, but Commissioner Jason said this is not recovering costs, this is requiring additional staff.  He questioned what sanctions were built in should the Hospital fail to perform.  

Commissioner Flynn’s Motion: The County Commissioners or County Manager should not charge fees to administer the Contract with the
Hospital.  Commissioner Wey Seconded the Motion.

Commissioner Jason asked how to pay then for the work?  Commissioner Flynn suggested reducing the costs.  He said we have a legal budget and auditors.  We agreed to help the hospital, but this goes against the terms of the agreement. Mrs. Borer said this was the estimated cost of the project, not revenue. Commissioner Wey stated that after two years, maybe 30 meetings, he never heard about this until he read it in the paper.  He strongly stated his opinion that the money should come from the County Budget.

Chairman Leland reminded the Commissioners that the Selectmen signed the Intermunicipal Agreement that included fees being administrative fees being billed to the Towns. Commissioner Wey said it’s too expensive.  The Towns can’t absorb it.  The goal was to help the Hospital.

Mrs. Borer said the goal was simple, to give money to the Emergency Room.  The reporting required made it complicated.  She reminded the Commissioners that the State has not passed the Budget yet, so in fact, we don’t presently have one, and that last year’s audit is still draft.  Commissioner Jason said the Towns signed the Agreement and were liable.

Commissioner Sawyer said he disagreed with Commissioner Flynn.  The Committee worked hard and there was no secret about the fees.  He reminded Commissioner Wey that he, as a Selectman, signed the Agreement and was on the original committee that drafted it. Commissioner Sawyer said the Motion was inappropriate, since the Towns signed the Agreement.  We don’t have the authority to amend the Agreement.  Commissioners Wey and Alley said, but they didn’t anticipate these costs!

Commissioner Alley said he worked for the Town to agree to giving money to the Emergency Room, and that the Towns are responsible for paying the fees.  Neither the RFP nor the Contract mentions reimbursing the County for Administrative fees, but this glitch can be overcome.

Commissioner Sawyer said the Committee felt the data would be meaningful to the Community for further programs and health care work.

Commissioner Collins stated he’s been retired too long.  These costs never occurred to him.  He was so concerned with getting the funds to the Hospital, and getting information for the Health Council, the result is unaffordable.  It needs to be revisited.

The Motion was repeated for clarification:
        County Commissioners or County Manager should not charge fees
        to administer the Contract with the Hospital.

Chairman Leland called for the Vote.  Commissioners Wey and Flynn
voted “aye.”  Commissioners Leland, Jason, Collins and Sawyer
voted “nay.”  Commissioner Alley abstained.  The Motion failed.

        Commissioner Jason asked that the Emergency Medical Services
        Procurement Committee reconvene and meet with the Hospital to
        come up with a format that would make administrative costs more
        reasonable.  Commissioner Collins Seconded the Motion.

Commissioner Wey asked who would bear the costs.  Commissioner Jason answered, the Towns. Chairman Leland asked how the Committee can amend the Intermunicipal Agreement that the Towns signed.  Commissioner Jason said the Towns may want to reconsider.  Commissioner Sawyer said there are two issues:  who pays and how much.  Commissioner Flynn suggested reducing the cost to zero.  There was discussion about the possibility of amending the Motion, then the Chairman called for the Vote.

        Commissioners Leland, Jason, Flynn, Wey, Collins, and Alley voted “aye.”
        Commissioner Sawyer abstained.  The Motion carried.

Discussion was opened to the Public.  Tisbury Selectman Tom Pachico said the Hospital could present the data on discs, not printouts.  He said Tisbury had agreed to support the Intermunicipal Agreement, but had not expected this. He suggested these fees are unreasonable.  

Woody Williams asked about Minutes of EMSPC meetings.  He said if there are no Minutes, the County is in violation of the Open Meeting Law and the work done at these meetings could be null and void.  The County Manager showed Mr. Williams that there are Notices and Minutes.  

Patti Begley said she understood that the Hospital was responsible for providing the data.  She felt very clear about the fact that nobody would be charged to collect data.  Mrs. Borer said the Committee needs to meet and review this.  

Marvin Joslow asked that everyone remember that the name of the Committee is the Emergency Medical Services Procurement Committee, not anything else.

Commissioner Alley said he hoped the Committee would come back with its plan so everyone would know what was decided. Commissioner Flynn asked that a draft Amendment to the Contract be brought to the Commissioners.  

Sub-committee reports followed:
Commissioner Wey stated that there was a meeting of the sub-committee working on the New York Avenue Property. Abutters, Oak Bluffs’ officials, County officials and a representative of the Oak Bluffs’ Resident Homesite Committee attended.  

(Tom Pachico, Patti Begley, Woody Williams left at 8:55 PM)

Commissioner Wey reported that Oak Bluffs would like to take ownership of the New York Avenue Property.  This would include negotiations with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission about the buildings on the site.  The number of housing units proposed for the property was up for discussion.  Commissioner Wey said Comsog could stay, or leave if that’s preferred.  Commissioner Jason asked if Oak Bluffs had funds for this.  Commissioner Wey responded that there was $60,000 in the budget.  Commissioner Sawyer asked if Commissioner Wey was asking for the County to convey the property to Oak Bluffs.  Commissioner Wey said he was looking for feedback.  Chairman Leland noted that the property would have to first be offered to the State.  Commissioner Jason said he would be willing to entertain a plan and perhaps the County and Town could work together.  
Commissioner Flynn said it wasn’t a bad idea, but County property was for all island residents, not just Oak Bluffs. It may not be in the spirit of the body to give up property.  Commissioner Sawyer agreed.  Commissioner Alley said it would depend on whether the County decided it was in the best interest of the County and Island to transfer the property to Oak Bluffs.  The County Manager said the County would first have to declare the property surplus.  Commissioner Flynn thought there were covenants on the property.  Commissioner Wey reiterated that Oak Bluffs would take care of the property.  Commissioner Jason said he’d be willing to listen to a plan that included some housing, a meeting room, perhaps a way to bring the 4-H back.  Commissioner Wey said the Resident Homesite Committee would plan a presentation to the County Commissioners.

Commissioner Flynn asked for the status of the 2000 Audit.  County Treasurer Flanders reported that she has asked Jim Powers, Auditor, to close out the Audit.  

Commissioner Collins reported that the All Island Selectmen passed a Resolution asking SSA Representative Parker to delay the fast ferry and new service model.  He Moved:

        That the County Commissioners endorse the All Island
        Selectmen’s Resolution that asks Riggs Parker to delay the fast ferry
and new service model for 30 days.      

Discussion followed.  Commissioner Jason asked why?  Commissioner Wey said to slow down the process.  Commissioner Collins said the process should continue, but all information should be gathered first.  Commissioner Sawyer reminded the Commissioners that at the August 27th Forum there was a turnout of about 350 people.  The County Commissioners had talked about that being the beginning of a series of meetings. Commissioner Flynn said the County Commissioners appoint the SSA Representative, not the All Island Selectmen.  He added that Mr. Parker is doing a good job.  We shouldn’t interfere.  Commissioner Collins said the Resolution was not to “direct,” it was to delay for 30 days.  He added that the Commissioners were not in a position to direct.  Commissioner Alley said the County Commissioners should be able to express their opinion.  He agreed with Commissioner Collins and asked for more information before the SSA Representative committed to anything.

Commissioner Flynn reminded the Commissioners of his statement of January 13, 1999 concerning the SSA appointment.  He believes there will be repercussions if the Commissioners interfere.  He called the Resolution “reckless.”  Commissioner Wey questioned calling it reckless. Commissioner Jason said slowing down the process meant dragging our feet.  He thought there was no advantage to delaying.  Commissioner Alley said to look at this through the Vineyard perspective, not through New Bedford’s.  Commissioner Jason said he was not talking about New Bedford, but our commitment to neighbors.  Commissioner Flynn said there’s a difference between being intimidated and being realistic.  He said we’ll only be hurt if we continue.

The Chairman called for the Vote:

        Commissioners Wey, Sawyer, Alley, and Collins voted “aye.”  
Commissioners Flynn, Jason and Leland voted “nay.”      
The Motion passed.

Commissioner Sawyer said he was interested in initiating more public discussion. Commissioner Wey agreed that could only help.
Commissioner Wey Moved that the meeting adjourn.  Commissioner
Jason Seconded the Motion.  The meeting adjourned at 9:22 PM.

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


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