Dukes County Commissions Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, January 9, 2008
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Paul Strauss called the County Commissioners meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Commissioners Lenny Jason, Tristan Israel, Carlene Gatting, Roger Wey, John Alley and Les Leland were present.
Also present were Acting County Manager Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Temporary Executive Assistant Erin Leighton, Health Council Member Tad Crawford, and Julia Rappaport of the Vineyard Gazette.
Les Leland makes a Motion to Approve the Minutes of December 5, 2007, seconded by Roger Wey So Voted (5-0-1), Lenny Jason abstains.
Les Leland makes a Motion to Approve the Minutes of December 12, 2005 as amended, So Voted, unanimous, (6-0-0).
Discussion on the Motion:
On Page 3 the fourth paragraph, the first sentence should read, “Commissioner Israel stated he would like to see the county manager’s salary increased from $60,000. He also thinks the required Bachelor’s Degree should be opened to a pool of candidates to people who do not have the degree but do have comparable experience.”
On Page 3 the fourth paragraph, the third sentence should read, “Commissioner Gatting stated it is important to have the option to review applicants with extensive experience equivalent to a degree”
On Page 4 the fourth paragraph, the third sentence should read “Commissioner Gatting believes the county commission should expedite the process, handling the hiring process”
Les Leland makes a Motion to Approve the Minutes of December 21, 2007, seconded by John Alley So Voted (5-0-1), Roger Wey abstains.
Commissioner Gatting wanted to re-open December 12, 2007 minutes. Ms. Gatting feels she had inadequate time to sufficiently read the executive session minutes of May 23, 2007 and June 27, 2007, prior to going into executive session and that is why she left prior to going into executive session.
Tristan Israel makes a Motion to Approve an amendment that Ms. Gatting did not feel she had time to peruse the executive session minutes before going into executive session, Commissioners did offer her time to read the minutes but she decided to leave, seconded by Les Leland.
Commissioner Jason feels Ms. Gatting was given the opportunity and ample time to sit, as the commissioners waited, so she could read the executive session minutes. However, Ms. Gatting felt she did not have the time and that the minutes of December 21 do not reflect her not feeling she had adequate time to read the minutes prior to the meeting. Commissioner Wey agreed with Commissioner Jason that the commissioners said they would wait.
Motion approved as amended.
Tristan Israel makes a Motion to Approve the minutes as amended, Carlene Gatting seconds, So Voted (6-0-0)
Commissioner Strauss stated Ms. Flanders and he are compiling information on other regional organizations around the state to enable Dukes County to compare to how other counties are funded.
Year in Review: “It was a rigorous year it was a difficult year, not the year that was anticipated”. Chairman Strauss thanked the commissioners for the past year. He feels the group does not always work well together; they opposed suggestions and recommendations to operate and find ways to progress in the earlier part of the year. As the year progressed and after E. Winn Davis left the county, Commissioner Strauss feels the commissioners started to work together.
Commissioner Gatting stated she is sorry that Chairman Strauss feels that her difference of opinion is any type of attack on Paul’s leadership, it was not. She feels she started this year with a directive from to voters to pursue change. Ms. Gatting disagrees with Mr. Strauss about heated discussion and debates are very important in the process to move forward. Chairman Strauss responds to Ms. Gatting’s comment, he strongly supports vigorous discussion, it’s the democratic process, and it is the best way to operate. This has to be a vigorous and dynamic group to get where it ought to get to. During this year, just having ended, a lot of time was spent arguing and seemingly not attempting to (in some cases) achieve a resolution of an issue and move on. He feels that was a hard part of the
year but that has since changed as the year progressed. He feels the Commissioners’ are now working better together.
Tristan Isreal made a Motion to Appointed Les Leland to be the Chairman for 2008, seconded by Carlene Gatting
Roger Wey made a Motion to have Les Leland as the 2007 Vice Chairman to become the Chairman, seconded by Tristan Israel, so Voted. (5-1-0). Commissioner Jason opposed.
Lenny Jason made a Motion to Appoint Roger Wey as the Vice Chairman 2008, seconded by John Alley, so Voted. (6-0-0)
Acting Manager’s Report
· All articles went to the Towns’, Chilmark called with a question regarding estimates for costs for each program. Ms. Flanders provided an estimate if all towns accepted the programs. The Town of Edgartown declined to put the articles on their warrant. Commissioner Wey asked that we contact the other Towns’ and ask if they are going to put the articles on their warrants. Commissioner Israel would like to know their reasoning for not putting the articles on the Town of Edgartown’s warrant. He feels they are denying the citizens of Edgartown the opportunity to weigh in on these services. Ms. Flanders stated that Art Smadbeck was vocal in trying to put the articles in the
hands of the residents of Edgartown and to let them vote on this. Commissioner Wey stated the Town of Oak Bluffs’ FY 09 budget is currently 1 million dollars over budget. Commissioner Israel expressed an interest in having an outside consultant come and help with the County with the whole system. He believes with their help making recommendations to save money, insurance issues, would help the County move forward. Commissioner Gatting believes there might be some real value. Commissioner Jason feels the Towns’ now have the opportunity to vote on these services for their residents.
· Ms. Flanders stated that the County Manager ad is ready to go to the media for publication. The Commissioners had wanted to wait until after the first of the year to advertise. She wanted to know if everyone was comfortable with the ad going out. Commissioner Gatting asks why we voted to spend more money for a County Manager when, if the programs are not offered, what is left to do? Commissioner Jason answers there are a lot of things to do. We can provide services that are run by volunteers that cost no money. A good County Manager can get services provided that does not cost any money. The towns can tax, we the County, cannot. The towns have been given the opportunity
to take these articles to their residents, not it is in the commissioner’s hands. Commissioner Gatting feels all is needed is an administrator; there are departments that are self-contained that are functioning without the direction of a County Manager. Commissioner Israel feels if the towns for now are not interested in the services on the articles, then face value right here and now, the County Manager would be fairly minimal. There is a difference in a Town Administrator and a County Manager, our new County Manager will need to be someone willing to get out there and re-invent that role.
Roger Wey makes a Motion to go forward and advertise for the County Manager, seconded by Lenny Jason.
Commissioner Jason stated the only form of government that has ever been voted on is a county manager form of government; he does not believe it is our right to think it is a good idea to change it. Commissioner Israel responds that he does believe it is the Commissioners’ right. Commissioner Gatting does see there being a compromise and direction, hoping the County Manager will come in with initiative and direction, but that person cannot be a miracle worker. That person will have to the ability to take look at existing county government; make cuts if necessary, get rid of jobs if necessary. She feels that they should take a look at these options now. Commissioner Gatting has a different view of what she now thinks the County Manager will now be. Chairman Leland does think we need the leadership;
we need someone to meet with the leaders of the towns. We need to do something while the Charter Study Commission is doing their job. Commissioner Strauss believes the point we are at, we (us and the County Manager or us and a consultant) need to look at the County dynamics. Many things need to be looked at; revenue needs to be added, what is working, what won’t work. The position of the County Manager may only be a 2-½ year job. He thinks that should be made even clearer as this process moves along. Chairman Leland points out a vote to re-advertise the position happened at a past meeting, still stands.
Tristan Israel makes a Motion to rescind the vote to re-advertise for the County Manager, seconded by Carlene Gatting, Motion denied. (2-4-0) Commissioners Gatting and Israel – yes, Commissioners Jason, Strauss, Alley and Wey – No.
Chairman Leland stated that we would do the appointments at our next scheduled meeting on January 23rd. Commissioner Gatting asks why appointments are made the first part of the New Year? Commissioner Alley answered that Chapter 35 states the appointments shall be made the first Wednesday of the year. Chairman Leland asks if that is something that can be changed? Commissioner Alley said it can be changed but it must be done on the state level. Commissioner Wey asked if we are going to interview people for reappointment? Chairman Leland does not think it is necessary unless the applicant would like to do so or if there are more applicants than positions.
Lenny Jason Moved to Appoint non-contested positions, Roger Wey seconded
Commissioner Gatting feels strongly the Commissioners need to interview all candidates at the next meeting even if they are not contested. Commissioner Israel agrees that the Commissioners should be able to meet the candidates for interviews for their prospective positions.
Lenny Jason withdraws his motion to appoint non-contested positions.
Tristan Israel makes a Motion to extend the date of applicants for the Health Council and Pilgrim RC&D to the next meeting in two weeks, Lenny Jason seconded. So Voted. (6-0-0)
Commissioner Jason stated there has been a major change in the Commonwealth’s Building Codes and Electrical Codes as of January 1, 2008. He would like to see the County conduct a series of seminars to make people aware of the changes for the building trades.
He would also like the County to look into homeowners insurance, especially the Mass Fair Insurance Program. Why does it cost so much? He would like someone to explain the increase.
Commissioner Gatting would like to add State Management of State Beach on the next agenda, who is going to pick up the slack? Commissioner Israel answered Jennifer Canton will help with the effort to bring the information compiled to a future meeting.
Ms. Flanders stated letters have been sent to the Governor, state officials to ask for a rooms tax. Springfield, Worchester and Boston all have room taxes higher than the state imposed rate. In FY06 the town in the county collected $305,000 on there 4%. If the county had a 2% tax that would be $150,000. Commissioner Israel is not opposed to a rooms tax but would like it to be opened to the public for discussion at a posted meeting. Commissioner Strauss has talked with some inn owners and the feeling is the price is already high for rooms and this will only add to the prices. He would like to see the Commissioners go to the Selectman of the towns prior to opening it up to the citizens.
Tad Crawford states the Charter Study is going into very important discussions in upcoming meetings. He believes the Study group will be interested in the fiscal constraints of the County.
Tristan Israel makes a Motion to go into Executive Session to approve executive session minutes and invite Acting County Manager Noreen Mavro Flanders and Temporary Executive Assistant Erin Leighton. Not to reconvene in open session, seconded by Carlene Gatting
Roger Wey - Aye
Lenny Jason - Aye
Les Leland - Aye
John Alley - Aye
Tristan Israel - Aye
Carlene Gatting - Aye
Paul Strauss- Aye
With no further business, the Commissioners adjourned the meeting at 7:15 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts