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County Commission Minutes 10/10/01

A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, October 10, 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
                                Roger Wey       
                                Leonard Jason, Jr.
                                Robert Sawyer
                                Daniel Flynn
                                John Alley

                Absent: E. B. Collins
Also Present:  Carol Borer, County Manager      
                  Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant
                  Jo Ann Murphy, Veterans’ Agent
                  Sheriff McCormack
 Sandra Lothrop, Associate Commissioner        
 Joshua Sabatini, MV Gazette
 Tad Crawford, Health Council
 Murray Frank, Health Council
 Pat Fairchild, John Snow, Inc.
        Roy & Dorothy Ott               Al Premo                Vincent J. Fusco
        Bill Schaffner          Woody Williams  Henry Burt
        Wanda M. Williams               David L. Welch  Frank Welch
        Priscilla Thifault              Grace Smith             Edward Colligan
        Nelson Smith            George J. Santos        Allan de Bettencourt
        Rod Backus                      Joe Stiles              James Dorsey
        Patricia M. Dorsey              Gene De Felice  Robert D. Hall Jr.
        Henry Rose                      Al Thifault             Henry Corey
        Robert Scott                    Arthur D.               R.R.
        Richmond Grune          Peter Henry             J. B.
        R. S.                           Joe Figuendo    R. A.
        E. S.                           Arthur Rodgers  Kevan Nichols
        Joseph Roy                      John M.         C. G. K. Jr.
        George Rice     
Handwritten list of Veterans in attendance is attached.

Chairman Leland called the meeting to order at 7:33 p.m.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that the Minutes of September 19, 2001
be approved.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion. The Minutes were approved as written. Commissioner Alley abstained.

Chairman Leland introduced Veterans’ Agent Jo Ann Murphy who was on the agenda to present a report of her work since being hired in September.  Mrs. Murphy reported that she attended a training and received her certification as a Veterans’ Agent.  Mrs. Murphy voiced disappointment that her job was slated for 12 hours/week and reviewed the numbers of hours she’s already worked.  Discussion followed.  Chairman Leland mentioned that at the August 28th County Commissioners’ Meeting, Commissioner Flynn suggested that if 12 hours was not enough, the hours be reviewed at a later date.  Chairman Leland said this, then, was the opportunity to do that and reiterated that 20 hours had been included in the budget for this position.  

Mrs. Murphy introduced Gene De Felice, Chair of the Veterans’ Committee that was formed to review the Veterans’ Agent’s hours.  Mr. De Felice stressed the need for the position to be full time and gave supporting information.  

Mr. De Felice introduced Special Assistant to the Commissioner of Veterans’ Services, Bob Hall, who voiced his belief that the County’s Veterans’ Agent should be funded full time.  He reviewed the responsibilities of the Veterans’ Agent, stating that they include: housing, food, employment, medical, welfare, shelter, clothing, prescriptions, annuities, awards, burials, real estate, and more.  He said the administrative costs for the Veterans’ Agent should be apportioned and reimbursed 100% by the towns.  

Commissioner Jason stated that the numbers presented don’t add up.  Mr. Hall said that was because the Veterans’ Agent helps more people than just those receiving benefits.  

Discussion about the Veterans’ Clinic at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital followed.  It was stated that there are 204 Veterans’ signed up for the Clinic, and another 23 just added.  

Commissioner Wey asked the County Manager to review the recent history of the position.  Mrs. Borer stated that the previous Veterans’ Agent, Hank Decoteau, worked 8 hours/week until his hours were changed.  Discussion followed.  Commissioner Flynn stated that he and Commissioner Jason had fought for Veterans’ Services through the years.  He suggested moving to 20 hours immediately, and to 40 later.  Mrs. Borer noted that the County Budget has not yet been passed and there was only enough money in the proposed budget for 20 hours.  

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that effective immediately, the hours of
the Veterans’ Agent move to 20 hours/week and that the Commissioners
direct the County Manager to come back with some way to bring the
hours to 40 in the shortest possible time. Commissioner Alley Seconded
the Motion.  

Commissioner Flynn asked that the Motion be amended to say that
Anything over 20 hours be compensated up to 40 hours.  Commissioner
Wey Seconded the amended Motion.

Discussion followed.  Commissioner Jason reiterated that the funds for 40 hours were not in the budget. Commissioner Flynn recalled that the Supplementary Budget was intended for capital projects.  Commissioner Sawyer said that while he is in favor of the change to 40 hours, the Commissioners could not legally commit money that was not there. Commissioner Wey suggested transferring money through the Advisory Board, but the County Manager explained that the Budget needs to be approved before anything can be done.  Furthermore, money from FY 01 could not be put in FY 02.

        Commissioner Flynn withdrew his Amendment. Commissioner Wey
        Withdrew his Second.

        The Motion was repeated.  The vote to pass the Motion was Unanimous.

Chairman Leland thanked the Veterans for attending the meeting and called for a ten minute recess (8:32 PM.)

The meeting reconvened at 8:42 PM.  Commissioner Sawyer suggested asking legal counsel for an opinion on whether the County could assess the towns in addition to 2 ½% for the Veterans’ Agent.  Commissioner Flynn said he’d rather see the money go to the Veterans’ Agent instead of a lawyer.  

The Chairman introduced Pat Fairchild of John Snow, Inc. who was in attendance to give a Phase III Interim Report on the Island Health Plan, a Contract requirement.  Murray Frank first reviewed the recent work of the Health Council.  When questioned about physician responses to a survey, Ms. Fairchild stressed the need for the doctors to be on board.  She added that the physicians were concerned about the needs of low income people and were interested in the Plan even though they were being asked to accept Medicare rates.  Subsidies were discussed.  Ms. Fairchild said the Lighthouse Grant has a one year subsidy of $20,000 for the Plan.  The cost would probably be about $50/month/ each, for the employer and employee.  Mr. Frank said about 85% of the uninsured are employed.  Ms. Fairchild said JSI is currently meeting with brokers, physicians, employers, insurance companies.  She recently met with Blue Cross and the Neighborhood Health Plan (Harvard Healthcare,) with the hope that one will be willing to make the Island Health Plan one of its products.  

The Final Report for the Island Health Plan should be available in November.

The County Manager began her report by announcing the Barrier Beach Task Force Meeting on October 23.  Bathroom facilities and a crosswalk at State Beach will be discussed at that meeting.  Mrs. Borer asked the Commissioners to review the Chronic Illness Survey that was included in their packages, so it could be discussed at another meeting.  The Airport Manager, Airport Department, will be coming to the next meeting of the Commissioners to give an update on their services/programs.  Mrs. Borer reported that Norman Perry, Director of Emergency Management, asked that two County Commissioners be recruited to work on an Emergency Management Subcommittee to rework the Mission Statement of this group.  Commissioners Jason and Sawyer volunteered.  Chairman Leland agreed to be an alternate.

Sheriff McCormack mentioned that additional security was now required at all airports, including Tradewinds and Katama.

Commissioner Jason Moved that a letter be sent to the Airport
Personnel to commend them and voice appreciation for their excellent
work during this period of heightened security.  Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion that passed Unanimously.

Commissioner Flynn Moved that the meeting adjourn.  Commissioner
Wey Seconded the Motion.  The meeting adjourned at 9:35 PM.

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


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