Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Lenny Jason called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. Commissioners Tristan Israel, Melinda Loberg, Tom Hallahan and John Alley were present.
Also in attendance was Executive Assistant to the County Manager Martina Thornton, Assistant Treasurer Carol Grant, Tom Osmers, Joanie Ames of MVTV.
John/ Melinda moved to approve Minutes of 1/14/09. Discussion: Tristan does not agree that the County Treasurer was appointed to the Finance Committee. Vote. In favor: Lenny, Melinda, and John. Abstained: Tristan, Tom.
John/Tristan moved to approve the Minutes of 1/28/09. All in favor.
Tom/Tristan moved to approve the Minutes of 2/11/09. In favor – Lenny, Melinda, Tristan, Tom. Abstained – John.
Tristan reported that the fishermen met on February 18th to adopt guidelines and consider goals for the coalition and he suggested to somehow formalizing the connection between the county and the coalition. Tom Osmers said that it would allow the Fishermen to apply for grants and grant from The Edey Foundation that fits what they are trying to accomplish has a deadline of March1st. It would allow them to go to the off island meetings that involve fishing. The next is scheduled for March 12th at the Katharine Cornell Theatre.
Melinda/Tristan moved to create the Martha’s Vineyard/Dukes County Fishermen’s Association under the county. Discussion: It would be created like the Health Council. The goals of the coalition would be to:
1.Represent the Martha’s Vineyard on fishery issues before the local, state, regional and federal regulatory agencies. 2. Identify and champion methods to make fishing sustainable and consistent with sensible environmental goals.
3. Maintain employment, create opportunities in helping with our strong maritime heritage. 4. Educate ourselves and communicate with the community about the issues facing all of fishing. 5.Conduct the research necessary to advocate well. There shell be no financial obligations of the County, they might need some clerical assistance. The Commissioners would appoint a liaison of the Commission to the MC/DC Fishermen’s Association. This body is created for advocating for fishermen on the island, it will not set any policies or rules. They should report to the Commission about their activities. So voted. All in favor.
The County will assist the Association with the application for a grant to The Edey Foundation.
Tristan/Melinda moved to have the Association recommend who they want to be appointed as their Associate Commissioner. So voted. All in favor.
Right-of-entry for Norton Point Beach
The federal government (U.S. Army) will be doing a search for ordinances in the waters of South Beach and would like to have a Right-of-entry for Norton Point Beach granted in the event they find ordinances that will need to be recovered through there.
John/Melinda moved to grant the U.S. government Right-of-entry for Norton Point Beach with a request for the work to be finished before Memorial Day if possible. Discussion: There used to be a moving target machine gun range on South Beach, it is under water today. They will be working in the radius of 1/2
mile to either side of the concrete bunker under water. They did it in the past. The work will be done in April and May. So voted. All in favor.
Health Insurance Sub-committee Report
Melinda presented the following sub-committee’s recommendations:
1. Recommendation to eliminate the Master Medical health insurance plan as an option. It would only affect a modest number of people and it would safe the County General Government about $18,000.
2. Recommendation for the County to make a statement that starting with FY2011 the County will go to the 75/25 share of the cost of health insurance, which will put as in line with the towns.
3. Recommendation to urge the passing of the Sheriffs Bill with the appropriate amendments. The amendment of Section 10 of the Sheriffs Bill as the County is supporting it would take the burden of the Sheriff’s Office retirees’ unfunded liabilities including the health insurance and other benefits away from the County, save us significant amount of money and it would help to balance out our budget.
We should look at the wording of the union contracts to find out if they specify what types of health insurance plans are offered. We would have to meet with the Sheriff and the Airport Manager to discuss how we will negotiate those decisions with the unions. Noreen will assist the people affected by the decision to eliminate the Master Medical plan and explain their options and the fact that we offer plans with the comparable if not better benefits at much lower cost. Carol commented that Master Medical is still being offered to all employees and they can choose to switch to it if they want to.
Tristan/ Tom moved to accept and follow the Sub-committees recommendations. So voted. In favor: Jason, Hallahan, Israel and Loberg. Opposed: Alley.
The 3rd recommendation reflects what was discussed at the last meeting, when Russell informed the Commissioners that he and Sheriff are working on the amendments of the Section 10 of the Sheriffs Bill to take out the word “pension”, which would leave the wording “all unfunded liabilities” and cover not only the unfunded pension liability but also the health insurance and other liabilities.
Tom said he is not comfortable with Section 10 as currently written and also Sections 6 and 7. The end of Section 10 suggest that we pay the whole assessment to the State and then they will pay us back the portion of the unfunded retiree liabilities for people that would stay in the county retirement system. This would put us in situation where we will be waiting for the State to transfer the money to us. Section 6 talks about all assets of the Sheriff’s Offices as of the transfer date shall become assets of the Commonwealth. Section 7 talks about real property and leased property transfers. Tom asked if we addressed those issues. Lenny said that we are trying to work out a lease with the Sheriff for the back lot. The Communication Center building was paid for by the County and is fully used by the Sheriff. The property is leased from
the Airport. Tristan asked if we are in communication with other County’s to coordinate the amendment efforts. Lenny said that they did not contact him, but Noreen is in communications with other counties. Tom noted that there are stipulations only for certain counties and we should look into securing our financial interests.
Tom/ Melinda moved to create an ad hoc sub-committee to look over the Sheriffs Bill and how it will affect the county and what shall be the county’s response. Members: Carlene, Lenny, Tom, Noreen. So voted. All in favor.
The MSPCA announced the closing of their facility on the island and the animal control officers from island towns met to discuss what implications it will have. Martina reported that the group was looking into way how to create community supported animal shelter on the island. They presented information about the Friends of Falmouth Dogs and how their operation has been successfully run for many years. They sent a letter to each town asking the Selectmen to appoint 1-2 people to an ad hoc committee that would explore options and come up with recommendations. The committee will also have a representative from the veterinarian community and the county. The committee would meet with the MSPCA representatives and find out particulars about the operation and options to continue using their facility and equipment, specially the crematorium.
Tristan was appointed as Tisbury representative to this committee. He suggested creating an island wide collaborative to create rules and regulations for dogs that would be for the whole island. Right now each town has their own sets of rules that are not consistent. The county could be of assistance in this area. Melinda will represent the Commissioners on the committee.
Lenny read letter from Tim Madden thanking us for contacting him regarding the royalty payments from the proposed Cape Wind Offshore Energy Project. Senator O’Leary and his staff are currently working on the language of the bill that they will co-sponsor and hope that it will address our concerns. Once the bill is filed, they will send us a copy and keep us informed of its progress.
The Chairman was asked to sign a letter stating that we participate in the Martha’s Vineyard Medical Reserve Corp and that we are planning to continue our collaboration. The MRC are preparing for any type of pandemic or catastrophe. There were no objections to signing the letter. Tristan said that Ron MacLaren sent him an e-mail inviting the Selectmen to go to a meeting in Dallas in April regarding those issues, so if anyone is interested they should contact him.
Carol Grant suggested to at least negotiating with the unions to discontinue the Master Medical insurance plan as an option for the future. And the retirees will eventually go over to Medex. Tom commented that according to MGL Chapter 32B, the county can make the decision unilaterally not to offer that plan. Carol said that we have to be careful with the HIPA rules not to convince people that one plan is better then other. We offer a comparison of all the plans that we offer at the health fairs we put out and to all new employees. We can only inform people on the Master Medical plan about their options.
Martina informed the Commissioners that the position for one year unexpired term on the Airport Commission had been re-advertised with a deadline of March 6th. This and other appointments will be made at the next meeting on March 11th preceded by interviews.
Lenny suggested that in March or April we should be looking into setting goals together with the county advisory board. He also suggested scheduling meetings to meet in each town at least once a year. It was voted on and this requirement is part of the Administration Code.
John/Melinda moved to adjourn the meeting at 6.20 p.m. All in favor.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts