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County Commission Minutes 03/27/02

A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was held on Wednesday, March 27, 2002 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
                                Daniel Flynn    
                                Robert Sawyer
                                Leonard Jason, Jr.
        E. B. Collins
                                John Alley
                                Roger Wey

Also Present:           Carol Borer, County Manager     
                                Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant      
                                Sheriff McCormack
                               Noreen Mavro Flanders, County Treasurer
                                David Kann, Wastewater Treatment Facility Director
                                James Powers, Powers and Sullivan Auditors (7:45 PM)
Chairman Leland called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m.
        Commissioner Sawyer Moved that the Minutes of March 13, 2002
be Accepted as written. Commissioner Collins Seconded the Motion. The Minutes were Approved.  Commissioner Alley Abstained.

The County Manager began her report explaining that energy saving fluorescent light bulbs will be distributed at town meetings as part of the Cape Light Compact Marketing Plan.  

Mrs. Borer announced that there would be a Public Hearing on the 2002 draft of the County’s Personnel Bylaws.  She asked that Commissioners review the draft so changes could be discussed at the next meeting.  

Also mentioned were planned renovations to the County Courthouse and the $50,000 set aside for that project.  A memo was sent to Courthouse offices explaining that renovations were scheduled to begin.  Some renovations included in the project were: redoing floors, carpeting offices, laminating the wood at the front entrance, coating other floors on the first floor level, repainting hallways, refinishing benches to be used in the first floor hallway.  Mrs. Borer explained that much of these costs would be reimbursed.  When asked about the Courtroom, Mrs. Borer explained that the Courtroom would be painted, re-carpeted, that some benches would be refinished, there would be an attempt to open the ceiling exhaust fan and to reinstate the bookshelves that lie behind sheetrock to the back of the judge’s bench.
Other plans for the second floor include painting and carpeting the law library, the County Commissioners old office, carpeting the Offices of Superior Court and Probation, and painting the hallway.

Mrs. Borer stated that she was working with MMA Consulting Group to review the County’s Compensation and Classification Plans, to look at these Plans in relation to other municipalities, and to look at the cost of living adjustments especially as they relate to living on Martha’s Vineyard.

Mrs. Borer noted that she met with a representative of the Department of Transitional Assistance and that Sarah Kuh’s Access Program would be assisting people with applications to the State.

Commissioner Sawyer reported that the Emergency Medical Services Procurement Committee (EMSPC) would be presenting a report to the All Island Selectmen that would include oversight procedures and data collected.

James Powers was introduced and asked to present the County’s FY 2001 Audit reports.  Mr. Powers stated that the County was in ‘’as good a shape as ever.”  He noted that the Airport was generating a healthy surplus, and the County was maintaining its balances.  Mr. Powers reviewed Federal Awards and noted that $280,000 worth of grants (including the Control Tower) were fine.

In reference to the General Financial Statements, Mr. Powers said the only qualification, in the Auditors’ opinion, was that the County hadn’t yet accumulated general fixed asset records.  This would be necessary for GASB 34.  Discussion of GASB 34 followed, with questions about inventory and setting policies.  Mr. Powers suggested that the County Commissioners set policy, for example, counting things of value over $5000, and keep track of inventory (each stapler, for ex.) separately. Mr. Powers said the County’s financial position was the best he’d ever seen, and noted that the Airport had in reserve, the $108,000 that the County Manager said was still outstanding from the prior year.  Mr. Powers said this was not free cash, since there were reservations placed against this sum.  

Mr. Powers went on to review the Airport’s unreserved fund balance and the County’s, stressing the County had sufficient reserves to cover its debt.  Commissioner Sawyer requested a letter from Powers and Sullivan stating that the County was in the best shape ever.  Mr. Powers said he would have the letter forwarded.

In reference to $157,000 deficit in Airport capital projects, Mr. Powers noted that some grants hadn’t been received by the end of the audit.  Hopefully they would arrive soon and then be covered in the FY 2002 Audit.

Commissioner Jason asked if interest would follow the $108,000 reserved by the Airport?  Commissioner Flynn said it should.  Mrs. Borer said it had been requested.  Mr. Powers said that was a policy decision.  Mrs. Borer said the original letter did include interest and that she would remind FAA.  County Commissioners voiced agreement.  Mr. Powers suggested this be resolved by the end of FY 2002 so either fund (Airport or County) could be unencumbered and the funds spent.

Mr. Powers reviewed Special Revenues.  Commissioner Collins asked in Mr. Powers thought sufficient funds were being held in reserve.  Mr. Powers said yes, that the debt numbers were locked in stone and continuing to have money in reserve as it is presently, would ensure the next year’s payment for the life of the bond.  There was some discussion about different ways that communities build up their reserves.  

Capital Services were reviewed briefly, noting that the Treasurer’s fiduciary responsibility to the Land Bank appeared on page 4.  Mrs. Borer asked about significant notes and Mr. Powers said all debts were covered, that the County was in good shape for the size of its operation.  

There was some discussion again about GASB 34, capital assets, and depreciation.  Mrs. Flanders asked about the 2 ½ % levy limit.  Mr. Powers said sometimes there could be a one time refund but the next year the figure would return to where it left off, that it would be a policy decision, and that the 2 1/2% itself would not go down.

Commissioner Wey asked how long Mr. Powers thought the present economic condition would last.  Mr. Powers answered at least 2 years.

Mrs. Borer noted that the Registry of Deeds had leveled off and that was a significant portion of County revenue.  Mr. Powers stressed the need to carefully monitor budgets, keep reserves.  He said it was not the time to hire a lot of employees or expand.

As for the Management Letter, Mr. Powers warned that GASB 34 was coming and it was important to get fixed assets done and set policy.  Discussion followed about policy, what to include, setting limits.  Mr. Powers said look at what something was worth when it was given to the County (no matter how it got there. ) He added look at capital expenditures at the Airport, accumulate costs for each year and add them up.  As for the Courthouse, Mr. Powers said look at when it was acquired, look in the Marshall and Swift book for the local multiplier for footage and look at material improvements, add up what was spent each year.  Mr. Powers said 10% of items will have 90% of the value.  

Mrs. Flanders told the Commissioners that Powers and Sullivan came up with the suggested policies that the State is using, and wrote the Implementation Guide for MA local governments.  

Mrs. Borer distributed the Policies Grant Funding Agreement that was drafted by the Auditors. Mr. Powers added the recommendation that individual funds be set up for each grant.  For example, the Health Council would have to put each grant into a separate fund, so there could be monthly reconciliation.

Mr. Powers said, referring to the Grant Policies, that it was the flow of information that was important.  It was important that the County Commissioners know what grants were coming in, what the grant restrictions are and the reporting behind them, and accept them.  Mr. Powers said it was not only important that management and the Commissioners know about the grants, but that the Treasurer knows about each grant so she can control them on the books (accounts, expenditures, of every grant) and that she gets a copy of each grant. Commissioner Flynn asked if this applied to the Airport, because it was asking approval by the County Manager and it was not just breaking it down and accounting.  Mrs. Borer said it was a generic policy, that it included Sheriff’s grants, DEM, all County grants.  She said the County Commissioners would have to adopt the policy.  Commissioner Flynn said this was asking approval from the County Manager and it was subordinating the role of the Airport Commissioners if the County Manager had to approve grants.  Mrs. Borer said she already approves grants.  Mrs. Flanders agreed.  Mr. Powers agreed the Airport already followed these policies.  Commissioner Flynn said he didn’t have a problem with it but he thought MAC and FAA may have a problem with it.  Mr. Powers said there could be a grant or a gift with which the County Commissioners would not want to be associated, one that they felt would be inappropriate to accept, one that had no public purpose involved.  Then the Commissioners would have to know they couldn’t accept it, that it would be spending money that was inappropriate.  Commissioner Flynn referred to the Sheriff’s grants, and asked if they had to be approved by the County Manager, and since the Airport had an Airport  Commission, he added that he didn’t want to rekindle the fire that seemed to be leveling itself out nicely.  Mr. Powers said he wouldn’t recommend anything like that.  Mrs. Borer said the Policy Agreement had already been forwarded to the Airport for management input.   She added that it’s particularly important with private donations, and mentioned there are some departments that haven’t been doing these things.  Mrs. Borer added that it would be uniform policy.  Mrs. Borer agreed she already followed these policies with the Sheriff’s Department and added that it was particularly important with private donations.  Mrs. Borer said the Health Council was not following these policies so this was a good outline.

Mr. Powers said there was a need to look at actual costs of allocations.  He said less may have been spent than budgeted, and this would need to be reconciled.  This would mean one last adjustment.  He suggested reconciliations be done on a monthly basis.  

The County Manager and Commissioners thanked Mr. Powers for his report and for attending the meeting.

Mrs. Flanders reported that the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group set rates for 2003 and the increase would only be 10% on indemnity plans.  

Commissioner Flynn distributed a Committee redraft of SSA Legislation.  He reviewed some sections.  The Vineyard would have a weighted vote of 35% as would Nantucket.  The Kass Report had the Vineyard at 35% and Nantucket at 25%.  Also, the Vineyard would be responsible for 45% of the deficit, with Nantucket only 35%.  Commissioner Flynn said the Vineyard would lose in rotation of the Chair and have 35% vote with responsibility for 45 % of the deficit!  There was some discussion about the redraft.  Commissioner Flynn said the County of Dukes County gets hit hard.  

Commissioner Jason Moved that the meeting adjourn. Commissioner Sawyer Seconded the Motion.  The meeting adjourned at 9:25 PM.  

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


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