DUKES COUNTY COMMISSION
November 15, 2006 at 5:00 p.m.
County Administration Building
Call to order
Vice Chairman Robert Sawyer called the meeting to order at 5:02 p.m. A quorum was present. Commissioners Paul Strauss, Roger Wey, Les Leland and Nelson Smith were present as well as County Manager E. Winn Davis, and Jennifer Caton, Executive Assistant.
Other representatives or visitors present included Michael McCormack, Sheriff Joanie Ames MVTV; Cindy Doyle, DCHC Youth Task Force; David Vigneault DCRHA; Sarah Kuh, DCVHCAP; Chris Kennedy, Trustees of Reservations, Chuck Cotnoir, Emergency Management; and Woody Williams.
The meeting of Dukes County Commissioners May 31, 2006 did not have a quorum; therefore it was not an official meeting. The minutes will not be official and will be notes.
Roger Wey/ Paul Strauss MOVED TO adopt the minutes of October 26, 2006 Special Meeting, SO VOTED (3-0-2) Commissioner Smith & Leland Abstained
County Manager’s Report.
Chuck Cotnoir reported on the Flu Clinic that was held. It also served as a drill. He listed those who also participated in the drill. He reported there were over 100 volunteers. In the first 15 minutes there were 315 people vaccinated. It was concluded that 500-600 people per hour received shots. Over 1,600 people were vaccinated in one day.
Nelson Smith said he was disappointed that it was done in a central location. He said it sounds successful because of the numbers, but it seems like it was inconvenient. He said it was advertised as the only flu clinic and he is hearing differently. He said he made his feelings known to the people there.
Robert Sawyer answered that they planned and anticipated for other people who could not make it.
Woody Williams said that everyone was happy. It was his understanding that this was a test for Homeland Security. He said that he could not have been happier and that it could not have been more organized.
Chuck Cotnoir said that there are only so many volunteers on island. There are other reasons that the Boards of Health took into consideration for the one site.
Paul Strauss said that his understanding was that this was a drill for a mass inoculation. He said there was no wait and was treated very well.
Paul Strauss also said that while he was at the clinic, a volunteer told him that she was sad because County Commissioner Nelson Smith had voiced some complaints.
Les Leland said that this was started to test an emergency situation. He said the central location is very important, hence the bus service. He said two goals were accomplished, the shots and a drill. It proved it could happen with planning.
Tad Crawford said it is important to see it was a drill. He was there early and the line moved quickly. He said it was superbly organized.
Roger Wey said that he heard feedback from people that it was very well organized. He thinks it was the teamwork that made it so successful.
NACo Board of Directors Position
There is a request from the National Association of Counties for a representative from the County Commissioners to be a member of the National Board.
Roger Wey said that it should be tabled until there is a full board present.
County Prescription Discount Card
Winn Davis reported on the progress of the County Discount Card. The first numbers reported are 48 people used the cards and saved $1,360. An average savings of 22.55%. The location of where the cards are available has been increased to include the Vineyard Health Care Access Program.
Woody Williams asked why pets are included. He said why give animals a 20% discount, when an additional discount could be given to people. He said it seems silly to him that animals are included.
Winn Davis explained that it was not something that the County had negotiated, but the National Association of County Officials negotiated with the company called Caremark. It is not for all pet medicines, but for medicines that are bought at the pharmacies. He gave the example of a person’s dog that had diabetes. She had to give the dog insulin shots twice a day. She could have used the card at the pharmacy. It does not cover everything, but those things that are available at the pharmacy.
DCRHA nomination from Tisbury
Winn reported on the letter from John Bugbee, the Town of Tisbury. The Town of Tisbury is nominating Laura Barbera to the Dukes County Regional Housing Committee. He said that they should schedule it for an interview.
Roger Wey asked why did they have to interview her if it is Tisbury’s nomination
Robert Sawyer said that it was a determination that all appointments would have an interview so that the Commissioners would have sense of whom they were appointing to the positions.
Roger Wey said this is a nomination from the Town of Tisbury it is not an application.
Winn Davis asked David Vigneault if the board needed Laura right away.
David Vigneault answered yes. He said he would have had her present tonight if he had known that an interview was required.
Les Leland said he agreed with Roger. The Town has done the screening and is asking for the County’s blessing. He said in the past they have just okayed it.
Winn Davis pointed out that it has been done both ways
Roger Wey/Les Leland MOVED to appoint Laura Barbera immediately to the Dukes County Regional Housing Committee. MOTION DEFEATED (2-3-0).
Roger Wey and Les Leland in favor. Paul Strauss, Nelson Smith, and Robert Sawyer against.
Paul Strauss commented that there is sense in interviewing the candidate, even if it is only to meet the candidate.
Nelson Smith said he would like to meet her.
It was decided that Laura Barbera would be invited to the next meeting.
Paul Strauss asked David Vigneault if that presented a problem.
David said that it has been a few months since they had a meeting and they are currently involved with the Community Preservation Committees. It would be great to have her able to participate in the next meeting. However he understands and feels it would be great to have the Commission meet her.
Winn Davis talked about his communication plan. He explained that this is a plan to improve communications. He is not asking for a vote, but only for review.
(See attached plan)
Winn Davis gave an update on the Hamstern System, which is now approved by the State. He said that there would be meeting with the Boards of Health to see if they support the system. They meet monthly and as soon as there is an opportunity he would be talking with them.
Charter Study Update
Winn Davis reported that he met with Mimi Davisson, the Convener of the Charter Study. He said they put together a list of materials that will be put together in a packet for all those elected to the Commission.
Chairman’s Report and Communication
Robert Sawyer said that he was the one who made the motion for the Charter Commission and with great enthusiasm. He said he knows the County does work effectively and we can be proud of what the County does. They are a great team. He is very confident that the Charter Commission will come to the same conclusion. He also feels strongly that the County needs to do more and the only way to expand the capability is through revisiting the Charter. One of the things he recommends to the Charter Commission is that they build into the report a funding source. Lastly he has worked with the County Commissioners for many years, and while at times they have disagreed on issues, he can attest with great passion, that every single County Commissioner is totally devoted and committed to the best of this community.
He considers all the County Commissioners today as friends and he will miss all of them.
Robert Sawyer said that the Commission has one letter of interest for the Commission, which is Paul Strauss.
Roger Wey/ Les Leland MOVED to appoint Paul Strauss to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, SO VOTED (4 – 1 – 0). Nelson Smith opposed.
Les Leland seconded the motion for discussion purposes.
Nelson Smith asked if it was advertised.
Winn Davis answered that it has not been advertised. All the positions will be advertised next week. If they want to put it in he will.
Nelson Smith said he thinks they should.
Robert Sawyer pointed out that this appointment has to be made before Dec 20th. This is a different type of appointment.
Roger Wey said that Paul is the sitting appointee to the Martha's Vineyard Commission and a County Commissioner. In the past if a Commissioner wanted to sit on a committee they could. He has been serving for the last four years. He thinks they have a sitting Commissioner, who either has or has not done a good job.
Robert Sawyer said he thinks Paul has done a fine job.
Les Leland said he agrees also. He pointed out that they just had the discussion about Tisbury. He agrees with Roger on that.
Roger Wey said if we agreed on that, then we agree on this.
Robert Sawyer pointed out that most agree that it is in the best interest for the community for the Board to have a close working relationship with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission. Paul, as the appointed representative, has worked hard to establish that communication.
Woody Williams said that this would not be a big deal, but the Commissioners need to start listening to the public. “Paul was not re-elected to the MVC”. In his opinion it should wait and go out to the public.
Les Leland said that we get to appoint one person to the board, and for the longest time it has been a member of County Commission. It provides good feedback. He understands what Woody is saying.
Robert Sawyer said that he wanted to echo that. He addressed Woody and said conceptually his point is a very good one, however as he has said before, in this particular case the link between the Martha's Vineyard Commission and the County Commissioners is the best thing for the community. He feels very strongly. This is not another board or committee. This is an appointment to establish a link between the MVC and the County. It is an exception.
Woody Williams said maybe another commissioner should be appointed.
Cindy Doyle of the DCHC Youth Task Force
Cindy Doyle and Mike Joyce from the Dukes County Health Council Youth Task Force came to represent the Task Force. Cindy Doyle reported on how and why they were formed. She reported that there were substance abuse problems discovered from an assessment. She said in order to raise money over $10,000 there has to be authorization from the County Commissioners. This year the committee will be raising money to build a website. They know they will be writing a grant for over $10,000. There will be another grant that would be a five-year grant for around $100,000 a year.
Winn Davis said that it is the policy of the County to give permission for the application of the grants and being the fiscal agent.
Nelson Smith / Paul Strauss MOVED to authorize the County Manager to give approval for on-going grants for the Youth Task Force; SO VOTED (5-0-0).
Roger Wey said he would like to be aware of the grants and kept informed.
Robert Sawyer said the County is proud to be involved. He also mentioned that the Task Force website could be an adjunct to the County’s and will save you a lot of money.
Cindy Doyle gave an invitation if someone was interested in joining the Youth Task Force that they would love to have them there as a representative.
David Vigneault of DCRHA
David Vigneault handed out a report on the different organizations and programs that are on the island that deal with housing (see attached). He reported that they work collaboratively together with all of the organizations. He handed out a report of the activities the program is involved with (see attached). He also distributed information on the Rental Conversion Program (see attached). David said this program was originally started and funded by the County. David reported that there is an increase in activity from some of the Towns using the Community Preservation Committee funds for affordable housing.
David Vigneault pointed out, during the goal-setting meeting of the County Commissioners he was interested to see the discussions on the County providing the book keeping for programs. He said this is something he spends time trying to sort out. He would be interested in sharing this with the County. He would also like to utilize the County Engineer for some of the development projects. David thanked Winn and the County for acting as a liaison with visits for representatives from Delahunt’s Office and being adjunct to the Emergency Preparedness.
Sarah Kuh on Mass Health Grant
Sarah Kuh passed out the annual report on the Vineyard Health Care Access Program. Sarah reported on a grant for Mass Health and Commonwealth Care and Outreach. It is an outgrowth of healthcare reform. The law provided for revisions to increase access for Mass Health and adding in dental. The most dramatic component of the legislation is an affordable insurance called Commonwealth Care. This grant would fund getting information out to the public. The grant application requested $60,000, which would allow the program to staff up to an almost adequate level. The good news is the County received the grant, however the grant funding for the program was cut.
Nelson Smith suggested writing a letter to the new Governor.
Sarah Kuh said that she has not gotten that far. She said there is a strong possibility that the cuts would be restored.
Winn Davis said that he thinks there should be a letter written, which he will do, but he also wanted the public to know what was going on so they can get involved.
Sarah Kuh said that she is optimistic that it will be restored.
Woody Williams asked for a definition on citizen status. He wanted to know what the qualifications were for citizen status to be eligible for the benefits Sarah was speaking of.
Sara Kuh explained that they are not the Program’s qualifications, but either State or Federal qualifications. In order to qualify for full Mass Health or Commonwealth Care benefits, a person must be a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident.
Woody Williams asked what proof is required.
Sara Kuh said there is a long list. It starts with the standard passport or Level 2 identification, which is the combination of a driver’s license plus birth certificate or other such documentation. For permanent residents a green card is required.
Wood Williams asked if she abided by those regulations.
Sara Kuh said they have to. They work with the State programs. They require it as a result of the Federal Deficit Reduction Act
Agricultural Commission Status
Winn Davis reported that he attended a meeting where they discussed if there should be an Agriculture Commission. The questions discussed were, if there should be a Commission for each town or one for the Island. There is a strong push for an Agriculture Commission. Nantucket is also looking at it as a possibility. The concept is to create an advocacy for farms and farming. There will be more meetings regarding this issue.
Winn Davis presented the elements that were discussed during the goal-setting meeting.
Roger Wey said he feels it should wait for the other commissioners.
Paul Strauss added that adequate time should be allowed as well.
Robert Sawyer said he saw an email about the advertisement for new appointments. He feels very strongly that there should be some reference that there may be incumbents or in-house candidates.
Les Leland asked about the status of the Insurance Advisory Committee. He said they were to be meeting 9/1/06 to 6/30/07 to look at insurance situations for the buildings. He said a committee was formed and he has not heard anything.
Winn Davis said they have not met and will have to schedule a meeting. They have been busy with the elections. It has not happened yet, but he will get that done, soon.
Winn Davis read the appointments that are available.
Nelson Smith asked if there have been any applications for reappointments.
Winn Davis said the ad is running next week. The only people who have responded are those who were notified their term is up. Two people from the airport commission have responded.
Roger asked if the Commissioner for Elder Affairs is a one-year appointment.
Winn Davis answered it is an annual appointment. He said that he thinks the incumbents will be seeking reappointment.
· The Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission Meets December 6th at 5:30 at the Martha's Vineyard Airport Terminal Conference Room
· The Dukes County Commissioners meet December 6th at 5:00PM at the Dukes County Administration Building
Mr. Revere said that he would like to discuss two matters. The first thing is the Hamstern Mobile Dewatering Project. He explained that it is Swedish technology where the contents of septic systems are pumped, the solids are extracted, and water is returned to septic, the solids are treated with lime, and are used for composting. The cost would be less then using traditional treatment. It has been moved from a demonstration project and now able to move forward. He hopes that it could be a regional project that can be done under the direction of the County. He also pointed out that they are not looking for money from the County, but support and coordination.
The second matter is tax appeals. He said he is a resident of West Tisbury. As a resident he was interested in learning about tax assessment process. This year he applied for abatement, not because he wanted it, but wanted to understand the process. The assessors continued the process of deliberating on abatements in executive session. He was granted 5% abatement. There was no information on the form that indicated how they arrived at that figure. He noticed on the form that it was stated an appeal could be filed with the tax appellate board and also the Dukes County Commissioners. He said he did not know about this option and thought most people did not either.
Robert Sawyer confirmed this and quoted Mass General Law, Chapter 59 Section 64.
If any one is not satisfied, they can go to the Appellate Tax Board or go the County Commissioners. That is the taxpayer’s option. Once the local board of assessors gets notice they have the option to overrule that and insist it goes to the MA appellate board
Jonathan spoke on the many reasons why he would want to see the County Commissioners hear the appeal case. He said it is a regional problem and the County Commissioners are the regional body. He wants to see the process developed. He urged the County Charter Commission to develop this as a valid function of County government.
Robert Sawyer reminded that under MA the law dictates that properties are assessed at full and fair cash market value.
Winn Davis said that both Mr. Revere and Ms. Ames have filed with Joe Sollitto; there is a 30-wait period, in which the town of West Tisbury can act on it. There is no action the County Commissioners can act on this until the 30 days have expired. West Tisbury will either remove it, then no action will be taken, or if the Town does not respond, then action from the County must be taken.
Woody Williams said that he is wondering if this does come before the Commission, what experience do they have? He said that if Commission does hear it, what would be the pros and cons? He said, “We don’t need anymore law suits or discussions”. He really does not think the County should be taking this on.
Robert Sawyer said that it is premature.
Mr. Revere pointed out to Mr. Williams that he is not concerned if the Commissioners have experience or not, but he is standing up for his rights that are given to him under the law. That is more important to him, than if the County Commissioners personally have experience in real estate. He wants to see the process that is guaranteed to him as a right by law. He thinks the community would benefit from it.
Roger Wey / Paul Strauss MOVED to set the next meeting date for December 6, 2006, SO VOTED, (5-0-0).
With no further business, Robert Sawyer adjourned the meeting at 7:05 p.m.
Jennifer Caton, Executive Assistant