Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Les Leland called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Commissioners Roger Wey, Tristan Israel, Paul Strauss and Carlene Gatting were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Jennifer Randolph, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Airport Manager Sean Flynn, Tisbury Cape Light Compact Rep. Peter Cabana, Vineyard Gazette, and MVTV.
Tristan Israel / Paul Strauss Moved to approve the minutes of April 9, 2008, So Voted, unanimous (5-0-0).
Lenny Jason joined the meeting at 5:10pm.
Chairman’s Report and Communication
Les Leland welcomed Russell Smith as the new County Manager. He said that Russell hit the ground running on his first day and has not stopped. He reported that he and Russell attended a meeting in Chilmark to answer any questions on the warrant articles. Les said it has been a pleasure so far working with Russell and feels it will continue.
Airport Budget Update – Sean Flynn
Sean provided the Commissioners with a verbal report on the Budget and status of the Airport. He reported that revenues currently are at or exceed expectations and are expected to continue to do so. He said that last May the Airport established a stabilization fund, with an expected amount of 10% of the overall budget. It was not fully funded, but is expected to be this year through a supplemental budget. The FY09 budget is approximately $4 Million.
The airport also intends to add two full time positions. The first is an administrative assistant position, which would pay $42,500 at the first step.
The second position is separating the position of Assistant Airport Manager into two areas, land-side and air-side. The land-side of the position would handle the leases and the business park as well as security issues. The air-side would handle hanger leases and all activities related to aircraft operations. The position would pay $63,700 at the first step.
An additional change in the budget from previous years that funds are now being set aside for capital projects. There is a need to save and reserve money for the extensive capital improvements and maintenance that is and will be needed.
Roger Wey asked Sean how the fuel sales are projected. Sean said sales are projected as being flat. Sean explained that fuel margin of profit can be increased to cover the increase of costs in two ways. The first is by a percentage basis, which prices tend to increase faster. The second is by cents per gallon, which is what is being used. Sean said the higher the fuel prices are the more people tend to shop it. The airport’s prices are competitive. However, the goal is not to sell more fuel, due to the logistic issues of getting the fuel to the island. It is a balance of generating revenue and environmental concerns.
There was a discussion regarding upcoming capital projects.
Lenny Jason asked what the status was regarding the plaque for those who lost their lives from the Naval Air Station. Sean said that he was waiting to hear from Bill Honey
He had asked him for a complete list and a recommendation for a plaque.
Lenny asked if the intercom had been fixed and Sean said it had been.
There was a brief discussion on the timing of the report on the budget. Tristan asked if the budget could be given to the Commissioners earlier so that they would have time to comment before it was approved. Sean explained that he had given the Commissioners copies of it a few weeks prior to his coming to this meeting. Les Leland confirmed by saying it was in their packets. Jennifer Randolph also explained that the Commissioners were supposed to meet last week, but due to conflicts in schedules the meeting was postponed a week.
Sean also stated that anything the Commissioners had questions on he would be willing to present it at a meeting with advance notice. He also stated that he would be willing to give updates on an annual basis.
Paul Strauss recommended that Sean get together with Russell to determine what types of updates should be given and when.
Les Leland thanked Sean for his report.
Cape Light Compact – Peter Cabana
Les Leland explained that the County’s appointee to the Cape Light Compact had a conflict in schedule and Peter Cabana was here to provide the Commissioners with some information. Peter Cabana is Tisbury’s representative who has been serving for the last 5 years.
Tristan and Les said that they wanted to discuss the impact of the legislative changes that would allow communities to become utilities and also the low % of usage of the program on the Island.
Peter Cabana gave a brief history of the Cape Light Compact.
He explained that the Cape Light Compact was formed in 1997with the primary function to negotiate rates at retail price and administer the energy efficiency program monies and education program. Three years ago the Cape Light Compact started to explore becoming a cooperative instead of an aggregate. A Cooperative can become a utility and build and own power plants. Cape Light then spent $100,000 to study the pros and cons of becoming a cooperative. At the end of the study the Cape Light Compact approached the IRS and the state for a ruling on a tax exempt status. They said they do not provide rulings on hypothetical situations. Cape Light then voted to become a cooperative and paid the $10,000 application fee. They expect to get a favorable ruling sometime in June of 08. At that point they
could function as a utility. There would still be a few issues, such as the poles and wires would still be owned by NSTAR.
At that point the Cape Light Compact will be coming back to the Towns and Counties to explain the pros and cons and ask if they would like to participate.
Peter also explained that over the last 5 years there had only been 2 representatives from Martha’s Vineyard attending the meetings, which creates a problem obtaining a quorum. He also said that Barnstable County has been providing the funding for the administrative costs of Cape Light Compact.
Tristan spoke briefly about Cape Light being able to coordinate with the island town’s different alternative energy projects.
Lenny Jason questioned why the towns and county was not contributing to the administrative costs. He asked who was responsible for the billing. Peter recommended that the Commissioners ask Peter Hefler to talk to Bill Doherty to see how the billing works and maybe send Barnstable County a letter.
Tristan Israel said that billing should be an internal discussion with Peter Hefler and then have discussions with the towns.
Peter recommended that Peter Hefler bring a Barnstable County representative to attend a Dukes County Commission meeting to answer any budget questions.
Roger Wey also suggested doing what ever they could to encourage the other representatives who are not attending the meeting to start going.
Tristan Isreal said that this was a great opportunity for the County to show leadership to the towns to at least have the discussions regarding alternative energy sources.
Peter said that the meetings are a great opportunity for the towns to get great information regarding the many alternative energy projects.
Noreen Mavro-Flanders asked Peter how businesses or residents participate in energy audits. He said that Kevin Gallagin manages that project. He said the Commissioners should speak with him regarding usage.
Tristan said that this may be a good topic to discuss at an All Island Board of Selectmen’s meeting and he would mention it to Denys Wortman. Peter agreed that the topic should be dealt with as an island wide issue.
County Manager’s Report – Russell Smith
Russell explained to the Commissioners that there was a myriad of issues and projects that needed attention. He started working on the ones that were time sensitive.
FY09 Fuel Oil Bid Update
The Fuel Oil Bid will be advertised on May 5th. The award date will be June 11th.
Surplus Property Update
The 1988 Ford Van, 1995 Crown Victoria, and 1994 Ford Ranger along with a Network Server has been advertised as surplus property and the County will be accepting bids.
Tristan Israel asked if there was a vehicle that the Island of Council of Aging was interested in. Noreen said that they came by and looked at it and it did not meet their needs.
Legal Notice Update
At the previous meeting the Commissioners asked that the County put an ad in the paper encouraging island residents to take out papers and run for County Commissioner. The ad was placed. Yesterday was the last day to turn in papers to the town clerks. Currently the people who have turned in papers are Lenny Jason, John Alley, and Linda Sibley. Because there is a limit to two people living in the same town serving on the board and Les Leland being from West Tisbury, only one, either John Alley or Linda Sibley would be elected. This would leave an empty seat. The County would need someone to run on sticker. The instructions are available in the County Manager’s Office.
Carlene Gatting asked if the lab equipment was advertised. Russell explained that the equipment is specialized. Currently there is a proposal from the Tribe to purchase a piece of that equipment. Russell said he would like to sell it as a whole unit. He explained there are websites that sell used laboratory equipment. He would like to contact them to try selling it that way first.
State Beach Update
Russell told the Commissioners that the intent this year is to plant Rosa Rugosa along the road, where people tend to pull off into the sand. The County will also be purchasing some fertilizer and potting soil. Tomorrow the Barrier Beach Task Force will be meeting and it will be discussed at that time as well.
Carlene added that last year the County had the Woods Hold Group to put together a beach management plan that will be presented at that meeting at the County Administration building at 9:30AM. She encouraged the Commissioners to attend.
Tristan had a question regarding the delineation of responsibilities within the beach management plan. Carlene said she did not think they had been assigned per se to any one as of yet, but feels the County should step up and be responsible for maintaining many of the areas mentioned.
Tristan asked how would the County do those things. Carlene said that is a good question. Russell will be able to do some of the work and there is also the grant money from the State. She also said that she would be interested in hearing from the other Commissioners their thoughts on whose responsibilities these projects were. She feels that most of them are the County’s. Lenny Jason said they probably all were.
Sheriff’s Bill Update
Russell gave the Commissioners a brief history of the State’s attempt to take over the Sheriff’s Department. He said that the County has been made aware that the bill that was thought to have been sent to study may resurface this year. Also there have been some budget amendments that would essentially do the same thing, as the bill would have. He said that Noreen has been writing and informing the State of the County’s position and about the un-funded liabilities that are associated with the Sheriff’s Department. He said there is an effort to make sure that there are paragraphs included in the legislation that would address our concerns in addition to monitoring the budget amendments.
Noreen pointed out a letter from Sheriff Hodgson the Bristol County Sheriff. She said the letter clearly points out the issues and describes the history.
Noreen also stated that the State has put together a committee to do a study. All of the people on the committee are state people. She said that is fine if the County was being abolished, but that is not the case and the Counties should be on the committee as well.
Carlene asked if the County should be coming up with a contingency plan in case the State does not fund the Sheriff’s Department. Noreen said no. They can not fund due to public safety. However there will be a cash flow problem.
Tristan Israel / Carlene Gatting Moved to write a letter of support to Bristol County’s Sheriff Hodgson, So Voted, unanimous. (6-0-0)
Tristan said that Secretary Kirwan was involved with abolishing counties. He feels that a letter should be written to the Governor stating the concern of Secretary Kirwan’s approach and unanswered questions.
There was a brief discussion regarding the letters that had already is written and what should be sent going forward.
Russell stated that writing to the Governor is a good idea. Lenny asked how the Speaker of the House feels on the topic. Russell said he was not sure.
There was further discussion of the letter from Secretary Kirwan.
Paul recommended follow up to the letter with personal contact. Roger said that in the letter it should state that the Commissioners would like a meeting as soon as possible. Noreen said it might be nearly impossible to arrange that meeting; however there is a public hearing of the government review board and suggested the Commissioners attend that meeting. Carlene asked if they would have to be on the agenda. Roger said he would like to attend. Noreen said she would find out from Bill Meehan.
Lenny asked Russell to find out the Speaker of the House’s position. Russell said he would and thinks the letters should be addressed to both the Speaker and Senate President in addition to the Governor.
Courthouse Roof Bill Update
Russell explained the bill would allow the County to borrow $150,000 to pay for the Courthouse roof. He said it is currently in the Senate Clerk’s office and he would continue to follow up on it.
Warrant Articles Update
Russell informed the Commissioners that the articles have passed 5 towns and Chilmark will be voting on them tonight. That leaves Aquinnah and Gosnold. Gosnold did not have it on their warrant, but we found out in time. We are working with one of the Selectman over on Gosnold to get it on their warrant.
Russell informed the Commissioners that he would be out of the office next week on unpaid leave.
Beach Rules & Regs / Private Party Permits – Carlene Gatting
It was agreed that the Rules and Regs would be postponed so that the Beach Committee could deal with some issues that had arisen. Then the regs could be presented to the Commission. Roger Wey stated for the record that he feels that it is not a good idea to allow use of alcohol on the beach.
· YMCA – Invitation to Sunday Brunch, August 3, 2008, noon – 4pm
· All Island Board of Selectmen Meeting Notification
· Letter from Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson
· Letter from Congressman Delahunt to NACo & NOAA
The next meeting would be on May 14, 2008 at 5pm.
There will also be a meeting on May 21st because it is mandatory according to MGL.
· The Dukes County Contributory Retirement Board will meet on Tuesday May 6th at 10am at the Retirement Office.
· The Dukes County Airport Commission will meet on Wednesday, May 5th, at 5:30 p.m. at the Airport Administration Building.
· The Dukes County Commissioners will meet on Wednesday May 14th, at 5pm at the County Administration Building.
· The Dukes County Charter Study Commission will meet on Thursday May 1st at 5pm at the Oak Bluffs Council of Aging.
The Commissioners adjourned the meeting at 7 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts