DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION
July 26, 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., Paul Strauss, Leslie Leland, Nelson Smith, Roger Wey and Robert M. Sawyer were present as well as County Manager E. Winn Davis, and Jennifer Caton, Executive Assistant.
Other representatives or visitors present included Joanie Ames of MVTV; Noreen Mavro Flanders, Dukes County Treasurer; Chuck Cotnoir, Dukes County Emergency Management Director; T.J. Hegarty, Rodent Control; Sheriff Michael McCormack, Dukes County Sheriff; Sean Flynn, Airport Manager; Deb Potter, Assistant Airport Manager; James H. Weiss, Superintendent of Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools.
Adoption of Minutes
Chairman Alley announced the packet of minutes were to be reviewed and brought back for the next meeting.
Appointment to the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group (Alternate Member)
Interview with Dr. James Weiss
Winn Davis explained the purpose of the interview was to see if Dr. Weiss was still interested in the position of Alternate Board Member. The Cape Cod Municipal Health Group represents large number of public employees, both teachers and non-teachers. It is a major purchaser of agency of health care. He explained there were two applicants and now only one.
Commissioner Robert Sawyer asked if all teachers were included in the group.
Winn Davis answered that yes, all teachers were members and that is why Noreen Mavro Flanders who is already a member expressed it would be highly beneficial to have someone from the educational field, because they make up such a large part of the group.
Commissioner Paul Strauss asked question if there is any down side to have someone from the educational system on the committee that deals with a population that is heavily populated by educational people.
Dr. Weiss answered:
a. There are 450 employees on the island, the largest single group of employees on
the island that Dukes County represents. It is very important that the school members are represented. Currently there is no one that has that position.
b. Health care is very expensive and is a huge expense to the school and in turn the community that should be watched
c. He has a long experience in health care. Insured about 175,000 people in New Hampshire with a budget of $2,000,000 with a program similar to this one. He has been doing this since 1984. Also involved with starting another group, New Hampshire Municipal Health Care Purchaser Partnership, trying to find alternate ways to provide health care.
Commissioner Roger Wey noted Dr. Weiss is a very busy man and asked if he would have the time for this.
Dr. Weiss answered he would make the time, especially for the sake of the budget. 75-80% of the schools budgets include salaries and benefits. If he can have some impact on the benefit portion it is a worthwhile expense in terms of time. He also feels representing the people who work in the schools is his job no matter what.
Commissioner Paul Strauss / Commissioner Lenny Jason Jr. MOVED to appoint Dr. Weiss to the position of alternate of the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group. SO VOTED unanimously (7-0-0)
Emergency Management - Chuck Cotnoir
Chuck Cotnoir reported on his meetings with the Steamship Authority. He met twice with Mr. Lamson, Capt. Gifford, and Larry Ferreira. Spoke about contact numbers to use during emergencies.
Such as the Agents, in case of hurricanes in order to get knowledge before hand if the boats are going to stop running and when they start up again.
Mr. Cotnoir explained that it is important to get this kind of information to people who will be impacted such as the Fire Chief in Tisbury, so that they can position themselves before streets get grid locked.
Mr. Cotnoir said they reviewed plans that were in place if a hurricane wiped out the docks. There is a plan, but it needs more work.
Mr. Cotnoir reported that a continuity plan has been developed, which is currently being improved. This continuity plan provides for, lines of succession, what if a facility is destroyed, how to move people, who will fill what functions, and how data is recovered.
Mr. Cotnoir said it appeared the Steamship Authority would like to be more involved with the island planning. Mr. Cotnoir said that this is good with concerning creating infrastructure to deal with pandemic flu. Glaxo, a pharmaceutical company has developed a vaccine that would immunize the current bird flue. However the bird flu is going to change drastically. Our government is buying large amounts. It would be used as an initial protection. Something else may be needed. Currently there are a lot of distribution problems.
Mr. Cotnoir stated that he has gone as far as he can go in his current position. He is responsible for the County employees and County property. He added that getting food here would be a problem. What needs to be done is a Commission comprised of the County, Steamship Authority, Packer, grocery stores, food transporters (both on and off island), and several other entities. However, he cannot go any further because his authority does not allow for it.
Mr. Davis asked if there is anything he needs from the County to go further.
Mr. Cotnoir said he did mention in a previous meeting to Mr. Davis about becoming the “Governor’s Assistants for Emergency Affairs”. He also said that he does not dare to go further because he does not have the legitimacy to do so. He would leave it up to the Commissioners to discuss how far they want him to go.
Mr. Davis said that he and Mr. Cotnoir should sit down with Mark Hanover to craft a motion to bring back at the next possible Commissioners meeting.
Commissioner Strauss said he considers it to be a serious limitation that the way it is currently defined as emergency management for only county employees and not the security of the entire island. He would like to see it sorted out as far as what it means and what we really need.
Commissioner Sawyer stated that he was in agreement with Commissioner Strauss. There should cover “scope of responsibility”.
Mr. Cotnoir emphasized that we want to make sure the towns are kept autonomus.
Commissioner Sawyer clarified that Mr. Cotnoir coordinates the towns and brings them together. He also stated that there is a precedent for an appointment a special project person.
B. Pilgrim Resource and Conservation Development – T.J. Hegarty
Mr. Hegarty stated he attended a board meeting, which brought him up to speed on what the organization is all about. He brought back handouts on Business and Housing Loans.
Mr. Hegarty reported that South Eastern MA represents 24% of the states land mass and 20% of the states population. 11% of South Eastern MA is agricultural, which is a total of 23% of the state’s total agricultural land.
Mr. Hegarty said that PRCD is looking for contact representatives from each town.
Mr. Davis noted that Commissioner Smith had wanted an Associate Commission for Agriculture. Mr. Davis suggested that the two be brought together to produce a field of activity and funding opportunities.
Mr. Hegarty noted that we are linking websites to ease communication.
Commissioner Jason asked if it is possible to create a County Commission on Agriculture.
Mr. Davis said that he believes the County Commissioners have the authority to do that.
Commissioner Jason suggested that they share this information with the 4-H group.
C. Airport Manager’s Update – Sean Flynn
Mr. Flynn reported that traffic is down.
Commissioner Strauss asked if the flight or passengers or down.
Mr. Flynn explained the passengers are down. The flights are the same. The fees are even. Fuel sales are all over, but not in their usual patterns.
The supply chain has been difficult due to the Providence terminal where the airport receive their fuel from had a fire. Now the airport is getting the fuel from Baltimore and other places. So far the fuel has been uninterrupted unlike other airports that have run out of fuel.
Commissioner Jason asked if the airport was still able to be competitive.
Mr. Flynn explained that the prices have stayed the same. Chevron’s profit margin has been reduced due to the extra hauling.
a. New Ramp is finished. It went better then expected, on time and on budget.
b. Upcoming Project – Runway needs to be shifted 306 feet. Safety Area is supposed to be 1,000 feet long by 500 feet wide. One side is fine, but the other end is short due to West Tisbury Rd.
Commissioner Sawyer asked about the funding.
Mr. Flynn explained 95% would come from the Federal Government. About 2.5% will be state and 2.5% will be local that would come out of discretionary money. It must go through planning and permitting process which will be done out of discretionary grant sometime after this October. Construction should begin in the spring or fall of 2008.
Commissioner Wey asked how much the project should cost.
Mr. Flynn answered about $3 to 5 Million depending on what gets included in it.
Commissioner Jason asked which way the runway would be moved.
Mr. Flynn answered away from West Tisbury Road, further away from the residents.
Commissioner Jason asked if the grant was in jeopardy at all and when will the issue be resolved.
Mr. Flynn said for the time being no and it should be resolved in a week or two.
Mr. Flynn reported that security has taken up a lot of time. The Transportation Security Administration decided due to the peak season the airport would change from a category one to a higher category. This created a lot more work and there was an adjustment period.
Commission Sawyer asked if the flights to Providence were just in the summer.
Mr. Flynn answered yes, because there is not enough demand in the off-season.
Chairman Alley repeated that the minutes would be on hold until the next meeting. He explained that Jennifer has given them a packet to review and to maybe email any comments so that when they come in next time they can approve all of the back minutes.
County Managers Report:
A. Hamstern Mobile Septage De-watering subcommittee
Mr. Davis explained that back in May the proposal came in and they were to form a subcommittee. He called for volunteers for the de-watering system subcommittee.
Commissioner Jason said he thought he and Commissioner Strauss were on the committee.
Mr. Davis said that the minutes did not reflect that and he was not there at the meeting.
Commissioner Strauss said he would be glad to assist.
B. Alternative Revenue subcommittee
Mr. Davis reported he has submitted a letter to Senator O’Leary indicating he appreciated comments on taxing rental houses on island, but it was not suitable due to it being difficult to enforce. Mr. Davis said he asked Senator O’Leary to prepare legislation to allow for a room tax. This would allow the County to have a room tax, which would alleviate some of the assessments. Mr. Davis said he would contact the Senator’s office to set up a meeting. Mr. Davis asked if there were any members of the Alternative Revenue Subcommittee would like to be present.
Commissioner Sawyer and Commissioner Strauss said they would like to attend.
Commissioner Sawyer asked how much money would be generated from the tax.
Mr. Davis said he had calculated that $90,000 would have been generated with a 1% room tax.
Commissioner Sawyer expressed that for $90,000 that he does not think that is a substantial amount of money to reduce the assessments. The County desperately needs the money for County activities. He expressed if it was a substantial amount of money that would be a different story.
Mr. Davis said that increases could be provided for and there could still be relief depending on what was received. The assessments would not be reduced, but the County could provide money back to the towns.
C. Scalloper Midnight Rider update
Mr. Davis reported that the scalloper was removed with the help of an excavator. The boat had been there for over three weeks. The excavator dug around the hull and pushed the boat, while the tugboat pulled it out.
Mr. Davis said that the Office of Waterway; the Harbor Master of Edgartown, Charles Blair; Division of Conservation & Recreation; Trustees of Reservations, Chris Kennedy; U.S. Fisheries and Wildlife; Office of Waterways; and the Coast Guard were very helpful in getting the boat off the beach.
Commissioner Strauss/ Sawyer MOVED to instruct the County Manager to write letters of appreciation to those who were instrumental in the removal of the Scalloper Midnight Rider. SO VOTED unanimously (7-0-0).
Commissioner Wey asked what was the cost.
Mr. Davis answered he had not seen the contract, but he believes it was pretty close to $100,000.
D. Beach Grant and Enforcement update.
Mr. Davis reported that the County has received the signed contract from Boston on State Beach and permission to submit the FY 2006 budget to them for $30,000. Mr. Davis elaborated that with the help of the Sheriff’s department there has been an effort to get more fencing put up. The Sheriff has also been providing more enforcement on Beach Rd. It is a $50.00 ticket to park illegally on the beach.
E. Mr. Davis gave a reminder that the last day to turn in papers to the Town Board of Registrars’ office is Tuesday, August 1, 2006 at 5PM.
Chairman’s Report and Communication:
Commissioner Smith’s update on Island Home
Commissioner Smith commented he went to M.I. for the launching of the Island Home. He went down for personal reasons and not as a representative of the County Commission or of the public. It was a successful launch and he said he was impressed with the construction of the boat.
Dress Code Policy to be adopted
Mr. Davis said he was instructed to get input from all of the employees. He said the policy was distributed with the paychecks to all of the employees. Only one comment was received that was made by an employee. It was discussed at a Dept. Head meeting and at a luncheon. There was only one person who objected to the elimination of jeans. Mr. Davis stated that he still considers jeans not professional attire if meeting with the public. The policy has been revised to eliminate tattoos and other things to make it more liberal.
Noreen Mavro Flanders stated that she feels all the employees in the County Administration Building and from the lack of comments in other buildings, understand the need for a dress code.
Mr. Davis asked that the Commissioners allow him to go forward to put the policy out for advertising and to make it an appropriate resolution.
Commissioner Leland said that he had previously objected to some of the issues. He would like to read it over again.
Mr. Davis said that the Commissioners could bring it home for review and return it with the minutes for the next meeting.
Elderly Identification Signs
Commissioner Smith said he wanted to discuss the signs that have been placed in front of elderly homes for the purpose of identification for emergency vehicles.
Commissioner Smith said that he felt these signs identified the homes to someone who might want to do a home invasion as being more susceptible. He also said he does not think they are very attractive. He commented that he thinks it is a wonderful idea to try to help the people, but there may be a better way to do it. He would like the Sheriff to address the issue.
Sheriff McCormick explained that the Sheriff’s department operates in a program called Triad. Triad interacts with law enforcement and senior citizens to address public safety issues. There was a concern from the seniors that there could be a delay to emergency services due to the houses not being identifiable. The program that started is called “We Have Your Number”. The Sheriff’s Dept, at the request of the owner will place a sign, in a visible material, in a visible location. This will make the house identifiable quickly in an emergency situation, when time is of the essence. So far more then 75 signs have been placed around the island, and more requests come in on a daily basis. The program has been accepted and embraced by the seniors.
Sheriff McCormick also explained that home invasion on the island is not a large crime. He also stated he could not remember the last time someone was charged on the island for home invasion. He also explained if someone wanted to identify a senior there are many other ways it could be done. He emphasized he feels the benefit of the signs far outweigh the concerns about safety in terms of home invasion.
Commissioner Smith stated he did not believe it was a planned crime, but more of an impulse crime. He wanted to state he did not feel it was the most appropriate way to mark people’s property.
Commissioner Wey said that as the Director of the Council of Aging in Oak Bluffs he said the elders and the Council of Aging overwhelmingly supports the program.
Commissioner Leland expressed concerns over the location of the sign. He suggested putting them on mailboxes, fence posts, or trees.
Commissioner Wey explained the need for consistency. It needs to be in the same place to serve the purpose.
Sheriff McCormick stressed that it is the homeowner that requests the sign. He said it seems that the real issue is esthetics. He said that esthetics have to give way to the greater cause of public safety.
Commissioner Sawyer said he liked the idea.
Commissioner Strauss asked if the public safety systems 911 had the addresses of each property.
Sheriff McCormick explained that they have an address but no directions.
Sean Flynn explained that even if the vehicles had a GPS system it only tells where point A and B are, not how to get there.
Susan Fairbanks stated that often the signs are on the state or town property. She said that if something happens and someone gets hurt the state or town will be liable for that. She expressed she did not like the color or that you can see them as you drive down the road. She expressed concern over the height, that in a snowstorm they will not be visible. She also expressed that a representative from Turkington’s office feels it is visual pollution. She emphasized she thinks esthetics on Martha’s Vineyard is very important.
Commissioner Wey asked whom from Turkington’s office she spoke to.
Susan Fairbanks answered Russell Smith.
Sheriff McCormick assured that he spoke with the Dept of Public Works and told them if there was a problem with the location of the signs, to let him know. He has received no calls.
Chairmen stated that the senior population has to request them, if they want them for their house that is their business.
Susan Fairbanks asked how the program was funded.
Sheriff McCormick answered it was volunteer money.
County Newspaper Designation
Mr. Davis explained that in June he put out a bid for the County Newspaper and solicited rates. There was only one application from the Martha's Vineyard Times. He explained he called the Gazette the day before the deadline and they informed him they were not going to bid.
Commissioner Leland reported that he looked into the financial view. He said there is a savings with the Martha's Vineyard Times.
Commissioner Leland/ Jason MOVED to make the Martha’s Vineyard Times the County newspaper. SO VOTED (6-0-1) Chairman Alley abstained.
Meeting with Town Selectmen’s
Mr. Davis reported he has been working on getting a meeting with the Town of Tisbury and has not heard back from them yet.
· The Dukes County Retirement Board meets August 1,2006 at 9a.m. at the Dukes County Administration Building.
· The Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission meets August 2, 2006 at 5p.m. at the General Aviation Building
Commissioner Smith/Sawyer MOVED to go into executive session at 6:25 p.m. to discuss pending litigation and not to reconvene into open session. (5-2-0) with Commissioner Jason and Chairman Alley in opposing.
· Dress Code Policy
· Information Flyers from Pilgrim (RC&D)
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts