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County Commission Minutes 10/22/03

A regular meeting of the Board of County Commissioners was held on Wednesday,
October 22, 2003, at 7:30 p.m. at the Howes House, West Tisbury, notice having been posted as
required by law.~

Commissioners present: John Alley, Chairman; Leonard Jason Jr.; Robert Sawyer;
Nelson W. Smith; and Paul A. Strauss.~

Also present: E. Winn Davis, County Manager; Noreen Flanders, Treasurer; Art
Flathers; Joe Forns; Marc Hanover; Bill Haynes; Erin Leighton, Acting Executive
Assistant; Sheriff Michael McCormack; Fred Raskin, Steamship Authority; Marty Reilly;
Cassie Roussel; Kate Scott; Nelson Sigelman, Martha’s Vineyard Times; Alexis Tonti,
Vineyard Gazette; John Walter; and Toby Wilson.~

Commissioners absent: Leslie Leland and Roger W. Wey.~

The Chairman opened the meeting at 7:32 p.m. Revised minutes for October 8, 2003, will be
reviewed November 12, 2003.~

Steamship Authority Discussion

Cassie Roussel reported that the Steamship Authority must raise more than more than $1
Million next year (see attached “Additional Revenue Needed by Route - 2004”). Fred Raskin of the
SSA stated that revenue is down almost 5% from 2002 and operating expenses are up 1%, or 2.9%
when adjusted for operation of the Schamonchi, which will be privatized. Capital projects for
2004 include the new vessel, construction in Oak Bluffs, and computer equipment/software (see attached “Proposed New Capital Projects - 2004”).~

Proposal (see attached “Est. Additional Revenue from Proposed 2004 Rate Adjustments”)
·       Increase passenger fares ($1.00 round trip, without head tax)
·       Increase rates for commercial vehicles over 20 feet by 2%
·       Increase annual parking fees~($50.00 annually)

Mr. Flathers ask when the Vineyard is going to get a break like the free parking lot that Nantucket is able to use at Cape Cod Community College.  Mr. Raskin replies that Nantucket makes the money up elsewhere; additionally the Vineyard does have a free parking lot, in Tisbury.

Alternative A (see attached):
·       Increase rates for autos 16 to 20 feet by $5 each way
·       Begin off-season auto rates September 15
·       Increase commercial vehicle rates
·       Increase annual parking fees~

Alternative B (see attached):
·       Increase auto rates on weekends only
·       Begin off-season auto rates September 15
·       Increase rates for commercial vehicles over 20 feet by 10%
·       Increase weekend rates for commercial vehicles under 20 feet by $5 each way
·       Increase annual parking fees~

Cassie Roussel explains that the original proposal for the increase was just to be $1.00 per round trip
for foot passengers, at this time the SSA does not know what the head tax will be and what towns
will be affected.  Ms. Roussel and Bill Haynes debated increasing passenger fares by $1 per
round trip vs. increasing freight rates (see attached “Changes to Operating Schedule that Could
Reduce Cost of Service”). Ms. Roussel and Kate Scott endorse Alternative A, as did Commissioner
Sawyer, he believes it is the least intrusive in Island fares.  Commissioner Sawyer, would like to see
a proposal of a third alternative with no passenger fare increases.~Commissioner Sawyer asks Mr.
Raskin about a statement he made in a local paper, “if but for an unanticipated 5% decline in traffic
much of it related to bad weather the SSA might have avoided any increases in 2004.” Is focus being put on the New Bedford fast ferry? Ms. Roussel answers, next year positively. Martha’s Vineyard would not be affected by the rate increase if not for the weather.~Excursion fares are way up and the regular fares are way down.~Commissioner Jason feels that the SSA needs to get out of social engineering and figure out what it costs to run the vessel.~Commissioner Smith endorsed Alternative A and proposed raising rates for larger autos by more than $5 each way. Art Flathers agreed with Commissioner Sawyer that county residents would be less affected by Alternative A, he also thinks the perks that are given to various people all add up.  

Cassie Roussel asked if the County Commissioners could impose a landing or departure fee for air
travel. Commissioner Alley answered that the Airport Commission had declined the federal
passenger facility surcharges, and noted that any such fees imposed would be required to stay with the airport. Art Flathers stated that if freight rates were increased, retailers would raise prices.~

Commissioner Strauss expressed no preference for either of the alternatives and proposed
studying the effects of passenger rates on tourism. Commissioner Alley endorsed Alternative
A and proposed increasing passenger fares by $1 each way. Mr. Alley proposed raising auto
rates by $10 and beginning off-season rates on October 1.

Bill Haynes proposed charging commercial vehicles per foot. Art Flathers proposed three
seasonal rates to address problems during the two months before and after the summer. Kate
Scott asked if the Steamship Authority planned to limit the number of trips per person per
year, and Cassie Roussel replied that it was being considered. Fred Raskin noted that few
passengers take more than 50 excursions per year. Commissioner Sawyer proposed involving
commuters, students, and other frequent travelers in the decision-making process.~

County Manager report

County Manager E. Winn Davis displayed the plaque commemorating veterans on the 50th
anniversary of the Korean War. He discussed the environmental and financial impact of
Lagoon Bridge; the Massachusetts Highway Department will commit $4 million for a
temporary bridge and $12 million for a permanent bridge. A committee will be formed by
Tisbury Water Ways, Shellfish Wardens, and the Tisbury Public Works Director to explore
five alternatives. Commissioner Strauss proposed that the county spearhead the project and
represent the community. The skate park committee met with Mr. Davis and Noreen
Flanders. Of the five towns entered into the inter-municipal agreement, Tisbury and Aquinnah
have yet to return their signed agreements and checks. Mr. Davis reported that department
heads met last week, the budget process will begin earlier this year, and improvements to the
health care building is complete. The Commonwealth has certified the emergency
management plan. The YMCA has signed a lease with the high school to open an aquatic
center and has been granted three years to raise funds and two years for construction.~

New business

Commissioner Sawyer asked what action will be taken in response to the letter from the
Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, Commissioner Alley reported that Philippe
Jordi discussed the Housing Authority with the Commissioners in August. Mr. Alley
understood that Mr. Jordi would provide further details and ask for the support of the
Commissioners. Commissioner Strauss understood that Mr. Jordi asked that the appointing
authority bring the issue before the board of selectmen, to which the Commissioners objected.
County Manager Davis spoke with DCRHA at an earlier meeting; they want to give planning
authority to the selectmen. Commissioner Jason understood there would be a discussion with the Gosnold selectman. The minutes of August 13, 2003, are to be reviewed, but Mr. Sawyer recalled that while the Commissioners did not take a vote, those present were opposed. Mr. Sawyer stated that the DCRHA would report back to the Commissioners. Mr. Strauss agreed that no votes were
made and no motions were taken. Responding to a question from Noreen Flanders, Mr. Davis
reported that legislation will soon be filed. The Commissioners requested that Mr. Jordi and
the representatives not file before the next meeting. Commissioner Smith suggested taking a
vote at the next meeting; Commissioner Jason supported the selectmen making the
appointment if the DCRHA does not object. Mr. Strauss stated that he and the present Commissioners all object. Commissioner Sawyer MOVED that the DCRHA attend the next meeting and not file anything before that meeting. Commissioner Strauss Seconded the MOTION.  The vote was Approved Unanimously.

Commissioner Jason asked Noreen Flanders if it is normal for 16% of the projected revenue
to be in for the first quarter. Mrs. Flanders stated that the revenue would be examined after
November 1, 2003, when appropriations are received from the towns and allocations are
made from other funds into the general funds. She reported that the budget is on track, and
expenses are down.~

Sheriff McCormack asked the commissioners to act as agent for a grant, the Martha’s Vineyard Law
Enforcement Council, which is made up of the Sheriff, six island Police Chiefs, and the commanders.
The Council has received a $260,000 Homeland Security Grant to purchase a mobile command center for the use of all island agencies. The county manager and treasurer will handle the necessary paperwork. Commissioner Alley MOVED that the Commissioners act as agent. Commissioner Jason Seconded the MOTION.  The vote was Approved Unanimously.

County Manager Davis reported that the Boston Seaman’s Friend Society is pulling out of
Martha’s Vineyard, with over one million dollars in the endowment fund.  The hope is to keep the money here on the Island, and that a public meeting was scheduled to discuss this.

Commissioner Jason MOVED to Adjourn.  Commissioner Alley Seconded the MOTION. The
meeting Adjourned at 9:50 PM.


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