DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION MINUTES
April 19, 2006 at 5:30 p.m.
VTA Building, Airport Business Park
Call to order
Chairman John Alley called the meeting to order at 5:30 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Leonard Jason Jr., Paul Strauss, Leslie Leland and Robert M. Sawyer were present. Airport Commissioners Norman Perry, Frank Gildea, Connie Teixeira, James Craig, John Coskie, and Fred Condon were in attendance. County Manager E. Winn Davis, Airport Manager Sean Flynn, and Deborah H. Potter, Executive Assistant were also present.
Other representatives present included Joanie Ames of MVTV, Noreen Mavro Flanders, Dukes County Treasurer, and Jim Hickey of the Vineyard Gazette.
Chairman’s Report and Communication:
Chairman Alley noted that the idea of a joint meeting from time to time between the Airport Commission and the County Commissioners is a good idea to help promote cooperation and keep everyone informed.
Joint Meeting of the Airport Commission and County Commissioner’s:
Chairman Alley advised the boards that Mr. Sean Flynn would begin the meeting with a brief report on the background of the ongoing FAA rent issue. Mr. Flynn advised that prior to June 13, 200, Donna Witte and Carol Borer had put forth a proposal to seek back funds in support of the airport for treasurer’s services and prior years subsidies. Ms. Witte and Ms. Borer put forth a cost allocation plan that was subsequently approved to include fees for treasurer services for the previous years. He noted that they could not come to a resolution on the terms of rent because the FAA has a policy that any users pay fair market value for any property it occupies. On June 13, 2001, he advised that they received a letter approving the overhead cost allocation plan but also requesting an appraisal of property to determine the fair market
value of the rent that would then be used to offset the $108,000 used for the prior years subsidies. He continued by advising that not much transpired until January 25, 2002 when Carol Borer sent a letter to the FAA requesting the release of the $108,000. He noted that on February 11, 2002 Donna Witte responded insisting on an appraisal before releasing the funds. He added that on December 13, 2002 the Airport Commission Chairman received a letter from Vincent Scarano, the manager of the FAA Airports Division, again stating they wanted us to come to agreement regarding the use of the property by the County at the Airport.
Mr. Flynn also noted that between December 13, 2002 and May 28, 2003 letter from Vincent Scarano, there was a joint meeting between the parties mostly to discuss the Jail but also to discuss the outstanding rent issue. He added that in the letter from Vincent Scarano on May 28, 2003 from Vince Scarano addressed to Airport Commission Chairman Jack Law expressing concerns regarding the use of airport property. Mr. Flynn noted that on May 4, 2005 John Alley put forth a proposal again to end the issue, which was approved by the both commissions, and the County Manager forwarded this proposal to the FAA. He continued that the airport received a letter on March 7, 2006 from Laverne Reid, the current FAA Manager of Airports, requesting some clarification on several points and on March 16, 2006, E. Winn Davis and myself attending a
meeting with the FAA to answer some of these issues. Three questions came from the meeting, Mr. Flynn continued, that have to date not been answered by the FAA:
o Parity of paying interest,
o Parity in the recoupment periods
o Does the cost allocation plan for communications center allow for coverage from the towns portion of the assessment or does it need to be a separate charge.
He noted it is a very complicated issue that has been ongoing for years but thinks that great strides have been made in finally resolving the issue. He would encourage the Airport Commissioners to support the plan as proposed as far as it applies to the FAA portion.
Mr. Davis added that at the meeting they advised the FAA of the new airport commission and the FAA wanted to know how the new commissioners felt about the proposal. He also noted that an equitable period of time of recovery for both the FAA and the County needs to be addressed. Mr. Davis noted that they both seemed to understand the need for parity and equity. Norm Perry asked if the FAA in Burlington was the final approving authority. Sean Flynn noted that the agreement would need to go to Washington as a result of the airport being put on the list for non-compliance as a result of revenue diversion. Mr. Davis noted if New England supports the proposal Washington would probably approve it as well.
Mr. Craig wanted to know who had control of the event right now and Sean Flynn advised that it was really both groups pending the answering of the questions posed. Sean Flynn advised that each group is basically waiting for each other and our response is dependant upon some of the responses from the FAA. Once these answers are received, he added, they could respond right away.
Mr. Coskie suggested that Sean Flynn and E. Winn Davis put the questions they asked in writing to create a paper trail. Mr. Craig asked if there is time that we can expect the situation to be resolved. Mr. Flynn noted that we can not predict when they will respond but if it is not resolved by October 1, 2006 there could be problems. Mr. Craig asked if Mr. Flynn felt things were under control from our end and Mr. Flynn noted on our side the information is readily available and our target date is May 7th to respond to their questions. Mr. Gildea asked if the meeting was to clarify the FAA letter of March 7th and Mr. Flynn responded yes even though many of the questions were already answered in our proposal.
Robert M. Sawyer asked if the process would be accelerated if there was a joint vote to support the proposal and Sean Flynn noted that the current proposal will need to be modified to meet the FAA’s approval and at that time the joint commission approval would be helpful. Mr. Davis noted that he felt it would be helpful to have the new commissioners vote to approve the direction of the proposal indicating that they have been apprised of the past events and willing to work together to resolve the issue.
Mr. Condon noted that he wanted to make sure he understood what he was voting for before voting on the issue and asked for clarification on the following:
o Lease: Mr. Condon asked if there was a lease between the Airport and County and Mr. Flynn stated no. Mr. Condon than stated the purpose then is to create a retroactive lease priced at yesterday’s dollars and Mr. Flynn stated yes.
o Interest: Mr. Condon asked what the rate of interest was and Noreen Mavro Flanders stated she used the 1-year Treasury rate as of January 1st with a monthly compound. Sean Flynn noted that the FAA regulates the amount of interest that must be charged and he noted that if they were going to charge us we should be able to charge them the same rate.
o Overhead Cost Allocation Plan: Sean Flynn advised that the County is not allowed to take any revenue from the Airport; however, there are certain services that are provided by the county that can be charged for such as the treasurer’s services.
Noreen Mavro Flanders noted that they are two separate issues. The cost allocation plan for the services provided by the county and the previous years support. In order to get payment for the six years of services, she noted, they came up with the cost allocation plan that was worked out with the auditors and approved by the FAA. The past rent of $108,00, she continued, has nothing to do with this cost allocation plan.
Some additional discussion ensued on the cost allocation plan and Mr. Flynn identified how the plan only covered the recovery of the treasurer’s fees and that figure was established at $108,000. He continued by stating the FAA responded that since the County was occupying Airport land, they wanted to see the Airport recoup money for rent for the properties occupied, which include the Admin Building, the Comm Center, and the Dare Course, before they would release the $108,000 with this back rent offsetting the treasurer’s fees. He added that the FAA will not approve any zero amounts for rent and each group that uses the Comm Center will have to share in the payment of the rent that is established. He noted that is the question put forth now to the FAA is can this “fee” be included as part of the already established
assessment that the town’s pay.
Mr. Condon asked who owns the land and Sean Flynn advised that the County holds the deed but it was restricted to aviation purposes only. Any other use would require FAA approval he added. He continued by noting that other airports abused the land policy so it was changed to reflect that even if the sponsor uses the land, they must pay fair market value for it. Mr. Craig noted that in the there is an exemption for land in the public good and that might apply to the Communication Center. Mr. Flynn noted that unfortunately that was not the case because it doesn’t wholly benefit the airport. He also noted this was an issue at other places and many of these arguments have been tried unsuccessfully.
Mr. Condon noted the Hyman appraisal noted that the value of the land at that time was $96,000. Mr. Flynn noted that the appraisal is done based on the value of the land at that time whereas the boards felt it was fairer to value the land on what is was worth at the time in question. Noreen Mavro Flanders asked if the Airport Commissioners had copies of the letter that she and E. Winn Davis sent out in February to the FAA as that explained how many of the calculations were computed and was advised that they did have it.
Leslie Leland noted that someone has to make the first move and Sean Flynn agreed that a follow-up letter is needed to ask for an answer to the three questions and the most important goal is to not miss a deadline. He added that at that time it might be beneficial to answer some questions that can be answered with harming our bargaining tool. Sean Flynn noted that the Airport Commissioners cannot vote to approve anything that is not compliant with the FAA regulations. Mr. Jason stated that we don’t have anything to hide and why can’t it just be put out for their approval. Mr. Davis noted that dependent upon the answers we receive from the FAA, the resulting difference could be as much as $58,000 dollars.
After some additional discussion on the subject, Mr. Condon asked Sean Flynn what he wanted to do and Mr. Flynn stated he would like to send a letter to the FAA reiterating that we need answers to the three questions and will be happy to respond to their request within 14 days of receiving their letter of response.
Sean Flynn also noted that they are not interested per se in the dollar value as much as being informed on the methodology used to determine the figures and to a policy being set. Mr. Condon asked if they had a policy on recouping expenses and Sean noted it was six years plus the year you are in for a total of seven. Mr. Alley noted that in order to get things moving he took figures that were out there to derive the amounts included in the original proposal.
Mr. Condon asked to go over the March 7th letter and Mr. Davis noted that on the first bullet that there was only one proposal not multiple proposals. Mr. Flynn advised that the Palmer and Dodge review noted that the proposal did not meet the policy in regards to the communication center.
Mr. Condon noted that the second area was already discussed. Mr. Coskie asked how other tenants at the airport were receiving rate adjustments and Mr. Flynn advised that it is now being done correctly as the leases are renegotiated or amended.
Mr. Condon remarked that the third and fourth bullets are linked and are part of the exercise and Mr. Davis noted that Mr. Flynn had indicated to the FAA that the airport does have a use for the Communication Center. Mr. Flynn also noted that when the communication center moves the TSA will lease the building.
Mr. Condon asked about the fifth bullet and Sean Flynn noted the question had been answered but the FAA did not look for the answer in the document. Mr. Flynn stated the same applied for the sixth bullet.
Mr. Alley noted that was the end of the joint session and stated he would leave the details to Sean and E. Winn Davis to prepare the letter for mailing tomorrow.
Fred Condon moved, seconded by John Coskie to adjourn the meeting of the Airport Commissioners and SO VOTED by the Airport Commissioners unanimously.
Chairman Alley adjourned the Dukes County Commissioners for five minutes.
Vice Chairman, Mr. Sawyer resumed the meeting at 6:40 pm without Chairman Alley who was still meeting with the Airport Commissioners sub committee.
County Manager’s Report:
Mr. Davis noted that there were three items he needed to report on. The first was a request from the Permanent Endowment Fund requesting the reappointment of Mr. Alley to the board.
Leonard Jason Jr. moved, seconded by Robert M. Sawyer, to reappoint Mr. Alley as requested as SO VOTED unanimously (4-0-0).
Mr. Davis also reminded everyone about the Lyme Disease Forum on Friday April 28th and Saturday, April 29th. Mr. Davis noted there would be a very prestigious panel speaking and he would especially like to invite the Commissioners to attend the public meeting on Saturday.
For the last item, Mr. Davis advised, the Chairman, John Alley, has asked Mr. Davis to issue to the commissioners the forms necessary to gather information for Mr. Davis’s evaluation. The forms should be returned, he noted, to Deborah Potter for compilation.
Adoption of Minutes
The minutes of February 8, 2006 were deferred due to a lack of a quorum of commissioners present.
The minutes of February 22, 2006 were deferred due to a lack of a quorum of commissioners present. (Mr. Alley rejoined the meeting).
Leslie Leland moved, seconded by Paul Strauss, to approve the minutes of March 22, 2006 and SO VOTED 4-0-1 with Robert Sawyer abstaining.
Release of prior draft minutes: Due to a lack of commissioners present at the time of the Executive Sessions, Mr. Davis asked for approval to release draft minutes of several executive sessions. Paul Strauss moved to release the draft minutes, seconded by John Alley, and SO VOTED 5-0-0.
Determination of Next Meeting:
Mr. Davis noted that there was a statutory requirement to meet on May 17, 2006 but there should be another meeting prior than that. After some discussion, the commissioners decided to meet on May with another meeting on May 17 to meet the legal requirement.
Mr. Davis also reminded the Commissioners that the County Advisory Board approved the FY07 unanimously last week for Expenditures and they were very grateful for the input and the timing. He noted that this was the first time in years that this process has been completed in the month that it was due.
Mr. Sawyer asked what the status of the two revenue-producing projects previously discussed and Mr. Davis noted that he has requested the forms from the RMV. He also noted he was putting it on the agenda for the MACO and he was going to as Senator O’Leary to attend as well. Mr. Sawyer noted that he felt the MACO meeting was very important and he hoped that everyone could attend.
· The Steamship Authority meets May 9, 2006 in Nantucket
· The Dukes County Health Council meets at 7:30 a.m. at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building
· The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets 5p.m. at the General Aviation Building
· The Dukes County Regional Housing Authority meets 4 p.m. at the DCRHA building, State Road, Vineyard Haven.
With no further business, Chairman John S. Alley adjourned the meeting at 6:55 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts