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County Commission Minutes 12/11/02

A regular meeting of the County of Dukes County Commissioners was scheduled for Wednesday, December 11, 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
                                E. B. Collins
                                Leonard Jason, Jr.
                                John Alley
Roger Wey
                                Daniel Flynn
Robert Sawyer
Also Present:   Carol Borer, County Manager             
                        Marsha Smolev, Executive Assistant              
                        Noreen Flanders, County Treasurer               
                        Sheriff McCormack                                                       
                        Nelson Smith
                        Paul Strauss
                        Jo Ann Murphy, Veterans’ Agent
                        Woodrow Williams
                        Tad Crawford, Health Council
                        Anson Krickl, Jr., Islanders for Universal Access
                        Sandra Lothrop, Associate Commissioner
                        Ezra Blair, MV Times
                        Joanna Jernegan
                        Jonathan Revere (7:40 p.m.)
Chairman Leland called the meeting to order at 7:33 p.m.
        Commissioner Collins Moved that the Minutes of November 13, 2002
        be Accepted as written. Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion.
        The Minutes were Approved.  Commissioner Jason Abstained.

        Commissioner Collins Moved that the Minutes of December 2, 2002
        be Accepted as written. Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion.
        The Minutes were Approved.  Commissioners Sawyer and Flynn

Commissioner Jason asked if Mrs. Wasserman had reported back about the County Manager Search and Open Meetings.  Mrs. Borer replied not yet.

Chairman Leland invited Mrs. Murphy, Veterans’ Agent, to give an update on Veterans’ Services.  Mrs. Murphy reported that she writes an article for the Senior Times each month, that she visits the Edgartown Senior Center each month, and that she not only takes Veterans to appointments in Providence and Hyannis, but she makes home visits when necessary.  She received training for the computerization program that will be in effect soon. The AmVets gave Mrs. Murphy a donation of $5000 to use as she sees fit.  Some of the funds were used to give needy Veterans gift certificates for food for Thanksgiving.  Another portion of the money will be used at Christmas time for gift certificates and to fulfill wish lists of Veterans in Windemere.  There are presently 1409 Veterans collecting benefits on the Island.  The Veterans’ Agent requested another phone line for her modem.  Mr. Williams asked that the Commissioners support Mrs. Murphy and give her what she needs, adding he saluted her for all she does.

Mr. Revere asked the Commissioners for their reaction to his proposal of November 13, 2002, regarding the Septage Management proposal that would use Hamstern units to dewater septage.  Discussion followed during which Mr. Revere answered questions about the process and the return of the septage liquids to the original site.  Commissioner Jason asked how Tisbury was dealing with septage.  Mr. Revere noted that officials in Tisbury were interested in the proposal because they were presently shipping septage off-Island.  There were some questions about the Edgartown plant and whether or not Edgartown accepted septage from other towns. Mr. Revere said Tisbury’s system wasn’t designed to accept septage from other towns and Tisbury did not want to create a plume.

Chairman Leland questioned endorsing private enterprise.  Mr. Revere said he thought endorsement by the County was a good idea because the County is a provider of needed regional services and this is one.  Also it could employ County personnel and bring in revenue from administration.  Discussion followed.  Mr. Revere noted that seven years ago, the taxpayers didn’t want to do this because it meant bringing septage to the State Forest, but this proposal has been framed to keep the project as private industry.  The County would be key in helping with a regional solution.

Commissioner Jason asked where the Hamsterns would be housed.  Mr. Revere said there were several opportunities to look at.  He stressed that the pumpers reaction was key now, and that he was asking for the County’s support and willingness to join him in talks with them.  Commissioner Collins asked how customers would pay for the service.  Chairman Leland added that it would mean two trips for pumpers, but Mr. Revere said it would still cost less that using the SSA and transporting septage to Carver, MA.  

Commissioner Wey said the difficulty would be educating the public because the water would be returned to their tanks after the septage was treated.  Commissioner Sawyer agreed education would be key.  Chairman Leland suggested that the private enterprise representatives talk to the haulers, but Mr. Revere wanted to know if the Commissioners wanted the County Manager to be in the conversations as organizer of the project. Mr. Revere noted that 92% of what is pumped out of tanks is liquid.  Commissioner Jason said he liked the concept because it will save taxpayers money.  Commissioner Flynn agreed with Commissioner Wey that it would be ‘a hard sell’ to tell people 92% of what came out, would be put back into their tanks.  He didn’t know why Mr. Revere had come, since this was about private enterprise.  He questioned asking a public body to endorse private enterprise.  Mr. Revere disagreed.  He saw this as an opportunity for the County to look at new solutions.  Commissioner Sawyer liked the County role in helping provide a regional solution.  

It was decided that a subcommittee of Commissioner Jason, newly elected Commissioner Strauss and the County Manager would work with Mr. Revere to get data and information and bring it back to the Commissioners by the end of January.

Commissioner Alley Moved that the proposed subcommittee (Jason, Strauss and County Manager) work with Mr. Revere as mentioned.

Commissioner Jason added that the subcommittee take the position that it was working for a regional solution, not to make money for the County.  Mr. Strauss agreed.

Commissioner Wey Seconded the Motion.  The Vote to Approve the Motion was Unanimous.

The Commissioners took a break at 8:12 PM and returned at 8:17 PM.

Mrs. Flanders explained that it was necessary for the Commissioners to set a policy for GASB 34 as Powers and Sullivan had suggested at the meeting of March 27, 2002. There was discussion about categorizing items like computers to form a ‘computer system.’  Furniture would also be categorized.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that there be a threshold of $5000.00 for any individual category fixed asset group.  Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion.

Commissioner Collins said he was unaccustomed to categorizing when accounting for capital expenses.  Discussion followed about depreciation.  Mrs. Flanders said items purchased at the same time, would be a system, like the Treasurer’s accounting system, for example.

Commissioner Sawyer Amended his Motion to change category to system.  Commissioner Jason agreed. The Vote to Approve the Motion was Unanimous.

Mrs. Borer showed the Commissioners the plaque she received from the Cape Light Compact for her years of service.

The Revenue Report was reviewed.  There was some discussion about the Airport needing purchase a meter and bill out for water.  Commissioner Jason voiced concern about expenditures going out and revenues not coming in.

Beach Permit revenues exceed the estimated amounts.  The Sheriff noted that the Beach opened earlier this year.  Other Departments were reviewed, with Mrs. Flanders noting that there was a problem as expected, with Courthouse rent.  Aquinnah still needed to pay its assessment.  Investment income was off, Mrs. Flanders noted.  Transfers in from Deeds Excise were excellent for the first five months.  Mrs. Flanders said that the report showed that ‘even in bad times, it’s good.”  Commissioner Flynn added that Transfers in from the Airport Fuel Fund only had 17% left for the year to meet estimates and were the highest revenue source.

Mrs. Borer reviewed the New York Avenue RFP that was advertised, stating that one bid, from COMSOG, was received.  The proposed bid rent was $50.00/year.  The County Manager recommended that the bid be accepted.

Commissioner Jason Moved that the bid be accepted.  

Commissioner Sawyer asked about the term of the lease, which was said to be twenty years.
Commissioner Collins Seconded the Motion. The Vote to Accept the bid was Approved Unanimously.

Chairman Leland reviewed the information provided by the Wassermans regarding the County Manager Search, including the proposed advertisement.  There was discussion about where to advertise and the cost of advertisements.  Mrs. Borer said she was preparing a Supplemental Budget that would include $2000 for advertising this position, and #1300 for travel expenses.

Commissioner Sawyer asked if the Commissioners would see the Supplemental Budget, and Mrs. Borer said not at a Commission meeting.

Discussion followed about the salary range for the new County Manager.  The Sheriff noted that the position needs to be Administrator and Chief Executive of the County.  There was discussion about how to respond to phone queries if the salary range was not put in the ad.  There was a consensus that the amount should not be put in the ad and if people inquire, the response would be that the County Manager is making $x and has been here five years.

Commissioner Jason suggested that the Job Description include grantsmanship. Commissioner Alley suggested adding, must be ‘technically literate.’

Chairman Leland reported that he had spoken with Mrs. Borer and that they’d agreed to an hourly rate of $45/hour for her services as Interim County Manager.  Commissioner Sawyer suggested keeping the same salary and benefits.  Discussion followed. Commissioner Sawyer said he couldn’t justify paying the County Manager more than she’d been receiving during this time when people are cutting back financially.  Mrs. Flanders said Mrs. Borer could work 960 when retired, or make the difference between her current job pay and retirement pay. Commissioner Flynn suggested that since it had already been negotiated, the Commissioners agree.

Commissioner Jason Moved that the Commissioners adopt the recommendation
of the Chair, that the Interim County Manager be paid at a rate of $45.00/hour.  Commissioner Flynn Seconded the Motion. The Motion passed with Commissioner Sawyer Abstaining.

The Commissioners reviewed suggested amendments to the Administrative Codes, including Commissioner Sawyer’s four proposed changes.  Mrs. Borer explained the changes. Commissioner Flynn said that one of Commissioner Sawyer’s changes, #2 (‘An amendment to the Dukes County Administrative Code to ensure that all County requests and approvals solicited to the County Advisory Board shall be voted by the County Commission prior to such submission and the results of that vote shall be provided to the County Advisory Board prior to their consideration.’)would be in conflict with Mass General Law.  There was discussion.  Commissioner Flynn noted that County Commissioners don’t approve budgets other than the annual budget, that the budget came under the duties of the County Manager.  Chairman Leland agreed.  Commissioner Sawyer said the Charter was silent on the issue of Supplemental Budgets. Commissioner Flynn said if it doesn’t say it, it doesn’t exist. Commissioner Alley said the Advisory Board asks how the County Commissioners feel about a budget and historically, the Commissioners knew what was coming up so adding this wouldn’t be a radical change.  Commissioner Sawyer said it would not be micro-managing, it would be responsible.

Budget Policies were included but already approved by the Commissioners.

Commissioner Wey Moved that the changes to 2f of the Administrative Codes be approved.  Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion.  Commissioners Wey, Sawyer and Alley Voted yes.  Commissioners Flynn, Jason, and Leland Voted no.  Commissioner Collins Abstained.  The Motion did NOT pass.

There was discussion about IIIB, which added a missing part of Mass General Law.

Commissioner Flynn Moved that IIIB be included in the Administrative Codes.
Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.  All voted yes except Commissioner Alley who Abstained.  The Motion Passed.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that the Commissioners cease any more voting until the January meeting when the new Commissioners can vote.  Commissioner Alley Seconded the Motion.

Mr. Smith and Mr. Strauss said they were not prepared to understand what the votes were about yet, nor were they ready to give input.

Commissioners Sawyer, Wey and Alley voted yes.  The other Commissioners voted no.  The Motion did NOT pass.

Section IV 1 was discussed.  These were duties of the Treasurer, not Departments.  Section IV 2 was discussed to show the addition of two words, park and airport.  Commissioner Flynn stated, for the information of the new Commissioners that the Airport was not a Department under Chapter 90 section 53.  It was a Commission.
Other small changes were noted in 11 and 12.  B14 was Commissioner Sawyer’s proposed amendment #3 (An amendment to the Dukes County Administrative Code to insure that all County Departments, Boards and Commissions must first seek the approval of the County Commissioners prior to soliciting, seeking or hiring Legal Counsel or legal services.  The County Manager shall retain the authority to employ County Counsel whenever County Manager deems appropriate.) Discussion followed.  Commissioner Sawyer said that if the County Manager is charged with fiscal integrity of the County, legal expenses should be run past her first.  Mrs. Flanders said not every department had a legal line in its budget.  Commissioner Jason said if you had a legal line, you wouldn’t need the County Manager in order to spend it.  The budget line was already approved.  Commissioner Wey explained legal funds in the towns.  If you have a legal line, you don’t have to ask to use the legal fund.  

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that his Amendment #3 be included. Commissioner
Alley Seconded the Motion. Commissioners Sawyer and Alley voted yes.  Commissioners Jason, Collins, Flynn, Leland and Wey voted no.  The motion did NOT pass.

Chairman Leland read a letter written by Paul Strauss in which he asked to be appointed as the Commissioners’ representative to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Commissioner Wey thanked the Commissioners for his year as representative.

Commissioner Sawyer Moved that Mr. Strauss be appointed to the MVC.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion.  The Vote to appoint Mr. Strauss was Unanimous.

Mr. Strauss thanked the Commissioners for the appointment.  

        Commissioner Sawyer Moved that Mr. Smith and Mr. Strauss have access to
Executive Session Minutes of the past year that have not been published.  Commissioner Jason Seconded the Motion. The Vote to pass was Unanimous.

Commissioner Sawyer said the SSA Forum was tentatively scheduled for January 29, 2003.  

The Sheriff asked that the Commissioners attend the Airport meeting Wednesday December 18, to support the letters that towns and others have written regarding the Master Plan. Chairman Leland asked for the Commissioners to attend and show support.  Commissioner Flynn said there had been opportunity to make suggestions during the process, but the Sheriff said he was never given the opportunity and he was asking for a delay so he could explore alternatives.  Commissioner Wey said the Commissioners should send letters.  He said Mr. Weibrecht and two Airport Commissioners had shown up at the Oak Bluffs Selectmen’s meeting the night before and that citizens would have attended, had they known the representatives of the Airport were going to be there. Commissioner Alley said he believed there would be a vote on January 18th.

Commissioner Jason thanked the two Commissioners, Flynn and Collins, and the County Manager for their service, since this was the last meeting of those two Commissioners and the County Manager would be retiring December 31.

Commissioner Collins moved to adjourn.  Commissioner Jason seconded the motion.  The meeting adjourned at 10:00 PM.

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


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