DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION
Wednesday, February 22, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman John Alley called the meeting to order at 5:00 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Leonard Jason, Jr. (arrived at 5:10), Leslie Leland, Robert M. Sawyer, and Nelson Smith, and were present. County Manager E. Winn Davis and Deborah H. Potter, Executive Assistant were also present.
Other representatives or visitors present included, Joanie Ames of MVTV; Geoff Freeman, Martha's Vineyard Airport; Jim Kinsella of the Vineyard Gazette; Ezra Blair, Martha's Vineyard Times; Sheriff Michael McCormack, Dukes County Sheriff; Noreen Mavro Flanders, Dukes County Treasurer; Dan Flynn, Citizen; Lois Flynn, Citizen; Ted Stanley, Citizen; Margaret Logue, Citizen; John Coskie, Citizen; Jack Law, Citizen and Chairman Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission; Don Ogilvie, Citizen; Elizabeth Stone, Citizen; Robert Stone, Citizen; Tad Crawford, Citizen; and Sean Flynn, Martha's Vineyard Airport Manager. Joining the meeting in progress at 7:00 pm were the following Advisory Board Members: John Early, Chairman and West Tisbury representative (14.05%), Art Smadbeck, Edgartown representative (32.85%); Tristan Israel, Tisbury representative
(13.82%) for 60.72% of the weighted vote.
Adoption of Minutes:
The minutes of February 8, 2006 were deferred.
The minutes of February 15, 2006 were deferred.
County Manager’s Report:
Mr. Davis passed out a recent transfer from the Airport that had been previously approved by the Advisory Board last week to reallocate funds for the acquisition of several vehicles for $118,000. The county treasurer and the airport manager brought this to the CAB for their authorization and now it has been brought the County Commissioners for their approval as well. Robert Sawyer moved to approve the transfer but Mr. Wey asked for an explanation of the expenditure. Mr. Sean Flynn advised that the purchase was for two vehicles for the wastewater department, one to replace a badly functioning airport vehicle, and two administrative vehicles. Leslie Leland seconded the motion and SO VOTED (4-0-0). (Leonard Jason Jr. arrived after this vote)
Mr. Davis noted that the FAA letter regarding the rent proposal has been received by Donna Witte of the FAA as of last Thursday. Donna Witte has been in contact with Mr. Sean Flynn to discuss the letter. Mr. Flynn advised Mr. Davis that he asked her to expedite the process and contact him if there were any questions. Mr. Leslie Leland asked if there was any information on it and Mr. Davis replied it was the same letter that was approved by both the Dukes County Commission and the Airport Commission earlier. Mr. Leland asked if there had been any adjustments and Mr. Davis stated no adjustments had been made. Mr. Davis noted that the rates were set based on research provided from the Airport manager and calls for a no-rent policy for the Ropes Course, a rate set for the County Building, and another rate for the
Communication Center. Mr. Alley noted that the ball was now in the FAA’s court.
Mr. Davis added that last week Mr. Rotundo did not appear at the interviews; however, Mr. Rotundo did send a withdrawal notice on Wednesday at 6:00 pm, so the information was not available during the meeting.
Mr. Davis noted that in regards to Mr. Leland’s letter from Palmer and Dodge, Mr. Davis replied that prior to the rescinding of the appointment of Mr. Leland and Mr. Law, Mr. Davis consulted with Ropes and Grey and was assured that the action was legal and correct. Mr. Davis passed out an opinion from Mr. Leterri that contradicts the position of Mr. Batt’s position. Mr. Davis noted that Mr. Batt assumes Mr. Leland and Mr. Law were sitting airport commissioners; however, the two individuals were not “qualified” under state law. Mr. Leland asked if that was Mr. Davis and Ms. Cini’s opinion and Mr. Davis stated no that was the opinion of Ropes and Grey. Mr. Davis noted that Mr. Leterri’s analysis indicates that the appointments were made but not perfected, the rights were not vested in the parties appointed and they were
not in receipt of letters of appointment nor sworn in.
Mr. Leslie Leland noted that the appointments were made on January 11th and on January 12th, Mr. Alley had his letter to be sworn in by the clerk. Mr. Leland wanted to know why all were not all done at the same time. Mr. Davis noted he was not available on Thursday afternoon or Friday. There was some more discussion about the letter and why they were not available at the same time and Mr. Law complained how the letters were not available. Mr. Leland asserted that Mr. Davis withheld the letters and that the letters should have been available simultaneously.
Mr. Davis continued that as a result of several different opinions received from the State Ethics Commission, he contacted them for information on who is eligible for the Airport Commission. Diane Meibaun, of the State Ethics Commission, advised Mr. Davis that anyone who has a direct or indirect interest in the Martha's Vineyard Airport has a conflict of interest situation that is true for any tenant, sub-tenant or vendor. He noted they also discussed the disclosure applicability; however, the individual needs to file the statement but it does not resolve the interest or direct interest conflict. Mr. Davis stated that he is still waiting for a ruling regarding owners of hangers; therefore, since we lack a final answer from the State Ethics commission, he suggested the commissioners
do not act tonight on the appointments but wait until we get information from the State Ethics commission.
Mr. Dan Flynn brought up the issue of State Ethics regarding the actions of a county employee and airport commissioner who solicited funds from Airport Business Park tenants and suggested that perhaps Mr. Davis should be recalled as well for not doing his job satisfactorily in this situation.
Mr. Davis continued by noting that they were in receipt of three letters from residents, including Tad Crawford, Linda Sibley, and Margaret Logue, regarding recommendations for the selection of Airport Commissioners
Leslie Leland made a motion to postpone the selection of Airport Commissioners until the County Commissioners receive a written letter from the State Ethics commission to resolve the conflict issues and seconded by Mr. Sawyer for discussion. Mr. Sawyer noted that the letter might take some time to receive. Mr. Jason agreed with getting it in writing as the Ethics Commission is giving out conflicting information. Mr. Wey noted that the decision should go on as soon as possible. Mr. Davis noted that some qualified candidates may be eliminated unnecessarily, AND SO VOTED (4-1-0) with Roger Wey opposing.
Mr. Davis reported that as of 4:30 today a balanced budget was finalized through a lot of effort that involved a few cuts in a variety of areas.
Mr. Sawyer provided the Commissioners with an update on the Prescription Drug Task Force. He noted that he has spoken to Donald Widdiss, Chairman of the Tribe, and Mr. Widdiss would like to add the new Tribal Health Director, Ron MacLaren, to the task force. Therefore, Robert M. Sawyer moved and Seconded by Leonard Jason Jr. that the Health Director of the Tribe be added to the Prescription Drug Task Force and SO VOTED (5-0-0).
Mr. Davis noted changes in the budget that will be presented to the County Advisory Board. He stated there were significant cuts in the legal budget, cut temporary employee allotment, travel budget, and a few other areas. Mr. Davis also noted they approached the budget with a focus on revenue enhancement to include engineering fees for the TIP program, increasing Rodent Control Fees, adding a new voluntary co-pay donation, beach grants, and funds from Oak Bluffs for health services. Mr. Sawyer asked for clarification on the Health Care Access revenue and Mr. Davis noted that there would be a new voluntary donation request, similar to a co-pay, of a dollar per visit the idea being people only respect services they have to pay for even if that figure is small. He noted that Sarah Kuh agrees with the idea and has
been open to it for some time.
Mr. Leland noted that in his opinion that is a terrible way to try to generate a few thousand dollars. He asked again if Sarah Kuh agreed with this proposal and Mr., Davis replied that she was and this was an idea that was also generated at their sustainability meetings. Mr. Leslie Leland then asked who would be charged the additional fees for the Rodent Control Services. Mr. Davis replied that there are some institutions that receive the services for free or reduced fees and now they will be charged, graduated depending on the institution, for services that are provided. He noted that the airport and beaches have been receiving services for free but now they will be charged. Mr. Leland then questioned making cuts in the legal department and asked if legal expenditures had to be approved by the Advisory Board.
Mr. Davis replied that the CAB approves the line item but not for each use of the service. Mr. Jason thought that asking for a donation for the VHCAP isn’t the best idea but suggested if the VHCAP could eliminate $2500 instead to get rid of the co-pay. Mr. Wey suggested that the towns be advised in advance of the change to the Rodent Control program so that the towns can be prepared for the additional fees.
Mr. Davis added that on the evening of the January 11 meeting, Mr. Alley requested his appointment letter for that night, which was honored, and the other letters were to be done later as is normally the case.
CY 2006 Appointments for DCHC Anna Markwica for the student position and for Valci Carvahlo as a two-year appointment.
Tad Crawford, as a member of the DCHC nominating committee, noted that it was difficult to get a student willing to attend at 7:30 – 9:30 in the morning and requires the support of the school student. He noted that this student was approached and was very excited to serve on the council. Mr. Crawford added that Mr.. Weiss, the new school superintendent, was very determined to keep the student on the DCHC and the group was pleased to have her wanting to serve. Mr. Crawford also noted that the DCHC has been looking for years for an appointee from the Portuguese community. He noted that Valci Carvahlo is currently a pastor, who formerly worked in a top-level administration position in Brazil, and turned down a promotion to come to the US as a minister. During their background check they received several wonderful
recommendations from a variety of people including police chief Beth Toomey
Robert Sawyer moved and Leonard Jason Jr. seconded the motion to appoint Anna Markwica and Valci Carvahlo to the DCHC as recommended and SO VOTED (5-0-0).
Chairman Alley recessed the meeting pending the arrival of Jonathan Revere and the joint meeting of the County Advisory Board.
The meeting of the Dukes County Commissioners resumed at 6:45 (Mr. Leslie Leland not returning from the recess) and Jonathan Revere presented a proposal to the Commissioners about using the Hamstern Mobile Septage De-watering system to provide regional waste treatment services. He noted he has made presentations in the past and is here to determine the potential interest of the County in implementing a regional program here that would not cost the county any expense but could potentially provide some additional revenue. He noted that he believes it is an environmental sound proposal and is interested in determining if the county is interested in receiving a more detailed proposal from Northern Star. He stated that the program provides for a series of trucks that provides for the pumping of septic tanks by de-watering the
septage and then returning the water to the tank from which it came. He noted that the solids are retained in the truck, which can be used for composting or placed in a landfill, which eliminates the need for processing off island.
He noted that there would be some opposition from the septic pump out providers but it could result in significant savings to the residents and be environmentally helpful to the island. He would like the opportunity to present a more documented proposal, along with Northstar, to the county; providing there is genuine interest in the idea. Mr. Sawyer noted he would like to hear more about the proposal and asked if financial information would be provided. Mr. Revere replied that yes it would. He noted that it is a fee-based service and the intention is not to displace local pumpers but he could not guarantee that might not occur. Mr. Jason questioned if the treatment had been approved and Mr. Revere noted they received another approval in 2004. Mr. Revere noted that Oak Bluffs does
not have a treatment component and that it is now treated by Edgartown at substantial cost or shipped off island. Mr. Jason asked what the estimated flow would be and Mr. Revere noted depending upon mandated pump outs it could be three to five million gallons.
Mr. Revere noted that the flow would be returned to island septic systems but only the sludge itself would need to be shipped off island unless it is used as compost at an approved composting site. Mr. Revere asked the Commissioners to renew their interest in the proposal for further action. Mr. Jason asked if it would be helpful to have all the Boards of Health involved as well. Mr. Revere stated that it would and noted that the some of the town BOH’s have already expressed interest. Mr. Jason moved and seconded by Robert Sawyer to have a proposal prepared for sharing with the Commissioners, the Boards of Health, and other interested parties and SO VOTED (4-0-0).
The County Advisory Board joined the meeting at 7:00 pm and the both boards called the meeting back to order. Mr. Early noted that the CAB was appreciative of the fact that a balanced budget was presented. Mr. Smadbeck advised that each member would make sure they would advise each of their towns about the changes in the Engineering structure make sure everyone understands the effects. He also added they were all pleased with the changes in the Rodent Control Department.
Mr. Alley noted that at the last meeting, he heard several times, everyone questioning why the engineering department did not show any revenue. Mr. Alley noted that he derived the $50.00 fee was by taking an average rate of $100 per hour and then cutting it in half. Mr. Israel stated that he felt serious strides were made in other areas of the budget but needed to go back to his town to discuss the impact of the additional fees and to confirm if the TIP program fees were reimbursable. Mr. Israel also asked if the County intended to add a COLA to the budget. Mr. Davis advised that he was still working on the comparison of 90/10 verses 75/25 for health care contributions and the relationship to the cola and should have a report fairly soon.
Mr. Kinsella asked if the additions/deletions could be identified and Mr. Davis replied the areas with major cuts:
Legal: Reduced from $25,000 to $15,000 which is reflective of historical amounts for this line item
Temporary Employee: Reduced from $2,500 to $1,000
In state Travel: Reduced from $1,000 to $500
Janitoral Service for Admin Bldg: Reduced by $2,000
Treasurers Department: Reduced by $13,000 for software
Increases in Revenue:
Engineering Fees 1000 hours per year for Tips program with a fee of $50 per hour
Rodent control Fees Increased fee by $5,000
From $15,000 to $20,000
Adjusted by existing contracts which already increase revenue by $1500
Airport will now be charged
Increase expense slightly to private
and possibly public fees.
Beach Management Charge for Admin services $2,500
VHCAP Voluntary contribution of $1 per visit for apx $2,400
Mr. Davis noted that there were no fee changes to Veteran’s Services.
Mr. Early asked the Commissioners what was their thinking on the COLA. Mr. Jason stated he was trying to do some quick math to compare COLA, salaries, step increases, and health insurance benefit values and while he would like to give county employees a COLA, he is not sure if it is possible with the existing financial situation. Sheriff McCormack asked if the commissioners had considered differences in pay for similar jobs between the towns and county for it was his sense that the towns paid more than the county for similar positions. Mr. Davis noted that we were trying to correlate figures for similar positions. Mr. Wey asked how long would it take to gather the information and Mr. Davis replied about two weeks. Both Mr. Israel and Mr. Jason asked where do you get the money. Mr. Wey stated that somehow
the county should try to find the money for a COLA. Mr. Smadbeck noted that we should find the money first and then everyone can discuss how to implement it. Mr. Jason asked if the CAB had any ideas for getting the money for COLA and Mr. Early noted that by eliminating the Engineering and Rodent Control programs, about $110,000 for the COLA in accordance with the last budget. Mr. Davis noted that with the changes in the fee structure to the Engineering Department, the net would be far less.
Dianne Powers asked if either Board had considered requesting an override for the single line item of a COLA for the County Employees. Mr. Israel noted that there were some changes that affected the budget from last week to this week and that in his opinion an override would not pass. Mr. Smadbeck noted that he would talk to people within his community but did not think an override would pass in his town and Dianne Powers stated that she disagreed. She also noted that it would be a shame to lose the Engineering Department because that department provides a very valuable service to the towns.
Mr. Early asked what are the statutory requirements for an override and Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that they have never met the requirements but that has not affected the ability to get the legislation passed. She noted that was one of the reasons the budget process was started so much earlier this year. Mr. Alley noted that the only override ever done by the County was done by special town meeting and it must be passed by 4 out of the 7 towns by weighted vote. After some additional discussion, Mr. Alley stated they would double-check the requirements.
Mr. Sawyer noted that he is against an override and thinks that we have to find another solution. He added that we somehow need to offer a COLA but it doesn’t need to be as high as the towns. He is looking at perhaps a 2% Cola, which is about $50,000, and the County is looking at other revenue resources.
Mr. Wey said that everyone should re-look at the budget and get information from the towns and constituents and try to find a way to provide the cola to the employees who deserve it. Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that in 4 years there has been a 1.5% COLA. She stated that if that information is brought to the attention of the voters with the information the towns have received 4% COLA’s over the years each and every year. Dianne Powers noted that this fact makes the Health Care differential irrelevant and for FY07 it shouldn’t be an issue but it could be considered for future COLA’s. Tristan Israel noted that the only way to provide for this would then be to find ways to cut the budget. Dianne Powers also noted that there has been no discussion regarding the increases in the VHCAP and perhaps this is not the year
to accept all of these increases. Mr. Jason noted that the VHCAP increases were equivalent to a 1% COLA.
Mr. Sawyer added that whenever a program is cut it is only a short-term solution but hurts the community at large and Mr. Early noted it was only a budget balancing solution. Mr. Wey asked again about the FAA money that is outstanding and Mr. Davis noted that while there was some agreement on certain aspects of the proposal it cannot be counted on until the agreement is finalized and the treble damage issue is resolved which will release our free cash.
Mr. Jason asked how much was the net from the FAA money and was advised it was about $110,000. He made a suggestion to agree to proceed with the balanced budget and when the FAA money is approved, it could be applied to a 2% cola retroactive to this date. Mr. Israel asked how certain is this reimbursement from the FAA and was advised that it was highly probable and moving in the right direction.
Mr. Davis reminded both Boards that he would be away until March 8th. Mr. Early announced the next meeting of the CAB would be on March 8 at 6:00 pm in the Retirement Room and then join the DCC at 7:00 in the Admin Meeting Room.
· The next Dukes County Commissioners Regular Business Meeting is Wednesday, February 8, 2006 at 5 p.m. at the Administration Building (time subject to change)
· The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority meets TBD at the DCRHA building, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
· The Steamship Authority meets Tuesday, March 7, 2006 in Woods Hole
· The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets Wednesday, March 15, 2006 5 p.m. at the General Aviation Building
· The Dukes County Health Council meets Thursday, March 23, 2006 at 7:30 a.m. at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building
With no further business, Chairman John S. Alley adjourned the meeting of both boards at 7:42 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts