Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Call to Order
Chairman Leonard Jason, Jr. called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Commissioners John Alley, Leslie Leland, Melinda Loberg, Carlene Gatting, Tristan Israel and Tom Hallahan were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, County Emergency Management Director Charles Cotnoir, Maggie Downey from Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Inc. and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Les/Melinda moved to approve the minutes of April 22,2009. So Voted. In favor: Lenny, Les, Melinda, Tom. Abstained: John (4-0-1).
Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Inc. - presentation by Maggie Downey
Maggie Downey gave to all Commissioners a handout regarding the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Background: Cape Light Compact, Barnstable County and the Town of Barnstable created this entity to be able to borrow for renewable energy projects, which would help stabilize the electric rates and help set a good public policy. June 9, 2008 they received private letter ruling from the IRS confirming that they are co-operative made out of public entities and as such it is tax exempt. The co-operative could not have any percentage of ownership in a private entity project. They can pass the benefits through the Cape Light Compact to the residents and businesses. They have 7 members: Cape Light Compact, Barnstable County, Town of Barnstable, Town of Brewster, Town of Harwich, Town of Dennis and Town of Tisbury.
Benefits of Joining:
· Financing large-scale renewable energy projects will not affect a town’s individual debt obligations
· Cooperative is a separate legal entity and can issue debt on behalf of its members. It is also supported by the financial commitment of MTC’s Community Wind financing package (long term Renewable Energy Credit (REC) contracts at $40/REC, RECs will be sold to Cape Light Compact at $40/REC to stabilize electricity prices for all consumers)
· Professional and technical expertise in the energy field
· Central contract for purchasing, operation and maintenance, and general admission
· Lower cost financing (Rural Utilities Service – Dept. of Agriculture, Cooperative Finance Corporation, potential financial backing with renewable energy trust funds) also eligible for CREBS – clean renewable energy bonds, zero interest bonds and cooperatives are eligible for 1/3 of the allocation in the state.
· Electric Cooperative structure is generally limited to member liability exposure to member pledge or capitalization
· Benefits of net metering law will bring financial savings to towns and consumers
· Develop projects that will benefit all ratepayers
Bylaws would have to be adopted by the county commissioners if the County would decide to join the Cooperative. In case of the town it would be a town meeting authorizing the selectmen to join. All members must agree to be bound by and to comply with all of the other provisions of the Cooperative’s Articles of Organization, and all rules, regulations, program requirements, membership agreements and terms and conditions of membership as may be established by the Cooperative. Membership on the Board of Directors is controlled by the member governmental units, with each of them having a representative on the Board (one member, one vote). For the purpose of organizational efficiency, the Board has delegated most of its powers, with some exceptions, to the 5 member Executive Committee. The intent is to have at least 23 members.
Rights and Obligations: The goal is to have power purchase agreements to be the primary financing mechanism provided by the members.
Tristan and Carlene jointed the meeting at 5:20pm
Members may be asked to provide pro-rata financial contribution/backstop for specific projects as approved by Cooperative Board. Failure to make the contribution means the Member is terminated. Members may not choose to participate on a project-by-project basis. The Cooperative cannot commit any Member to anything the Member does not want to do. But if they do not want to agree with a project - they would not be a Member anymore. That Member could join back later if they want to. If any obligation were in place from prior projects, it would stay in place until the obligation is met. The Compact is entitled to receive 10% of the annual energy output from any generation project to stabilize the rates of the members of Cape Light Compact. The Host Member is entitled to net meter up to 90% of the energy output (but not capacity or RECs) from any
project located on municipal land against such Member’s municipal accounts up to the limit of project output or municipal load. The remaining energy output shall be allocated to other Cooperative members on a pro rata basis.
Next steps: They are holding informational meetings with Selectman and members of the public, followed by the town meeting votes to authorize the Selectmen to make the decision to join the Cooperative. Only 5 towns on the Cape & MV did not put it to town meeting yet (Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, West Tisbury, Chatham & Wellesley). The towns would have to adopt the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws for the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative.
The new development is that under the Green Communities Act the Town or County could borrow specifically for the renewable energy projects. The Cooperative is now an option, not the only choice.
Tristan asked how much guidance could the Cooperative give to the town to help with projects. Maggie said that it would become a Cooperative project and the Cooperative Board would make a decision if they want to pursue a project. They also go for grants to partially finance the projects feasibility studies etc. The project is weighted based on its business plan – the business plan and the numbers must work, there must be economic sense to the project.
Maggie is director of the Cape Light Compact. There is 1 director per member in the Cooperative – so there are 7 directors. The Town of Aquinnah and Edgartown passed the town articles but did not act on it yet. Town of Tisbury is part of the Cooperative. Nantucket is not part of it because they do not use NSTAR as electricity provider. Projects are finances by Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) at set purchase price for energy for certain number of years. This is way the project will be paid for. Based on that the RUS approves the debt. After the project is paid for the Cooperative will be eligible for net metering under the Green Communities Act. The way it would work is that the Cooperative would receive a check from the utilities and there is a formula for what the check would be. The Cooperative gets the distribution charges waived.
The Cooperative would be legally liable for the debt. The members would be only liable for the capitalization and the pledge. The Cooperative has insurance to share the risk.
Under the Power Purchase Agreement that will warrant financing the project, the town's liability exposure is limited to the pledge within the Cooperative and is lower then if the town would pursue the project on its own. The Executive Board has 5 members, of which there are 3 permanent seats: Barnstable County, Town of Barnstable and Cape Light Compact and two members at large. The compact members can change to either make it up to 7 members or change it to no permanent seats.
If a project would be approved on county land, we would get a lease agreement with the Cooperative for the land and we would be the first in line for the energy output from that project. For PB (solar panels) you need a private entity that could take the tax credits and accelerate the depreciation otherwise the economics of PB would not work. If the building on which it is installed would use all the power output from the project, there would be no 10% to Cape Light Compact as this was too small of a project and it would be most likely exempt. Maggie already has basic studies of the county and municipal buildings and what would be possible projects on the island. There are no public buildings that could do 100 kW projects, which is where all the rebates maximize. There is couple that could do 75kW but the economics of such project would not
be so advantageous and instead of 13.5 cents it would be 16.5 cents. Plus projects on the island would be more costly. Peter Cabana asked about a scenario if the Dukes County joins the Cooperative and decides to put 500kW ground mounted PB system on the side of the runway at the Airport. Maggie said that it would become a Cooperative project, with a lease for the land, there would be a private investor to maximize the tax credits and it would be a class II net metering credits. The 10% to Cape Light Compact could be waived, as it is a small project and all the output would be consumed by the Airport. Lenny asked Maggie to send the Commissioners the Cooperative’s Bylaws.
Carlene asked if the Tribe is considered under the Section 115. Maggie said she would have to find that out. Tom asked if the big energy is wind or solar? Maggie said that their goal is to net meter all the municipal energy needs for the Cape & Islands and for that they would need about 30 land based wind turbines of about 31.5 MW power… a little wind farm. Peter Cabana said that the Town of Tisbury looked at two potential sites but it was determined that it would not be economical to put land based wind turbine at either of the sites. On the other hand Edgartown could put 650kW wind turbine up, which is still half the size. There are towns that do not have locations suitable for the required renewable energy projects. Barnstable County asked to be allowed a regional approach under the Green Communities Act to meet the combined energy
for the region by pursuing projects in areas that would be most economically advantageous. The answer from the Secretary of State was no, they want “one turbine in every town”. Melinda asked if a tidal turbines project that Edgartown is looking into could be done under the Cooperative. Maggie said that the Board of Directors would decide if the project is viable and if they would pursue it. Tristan said that Tisbury approached Edgartown to see if they would be willing to work cooperatively. Edgartown’s answer was maybe one day... Maggie said she spoke with the MV Commission representative and there is a question if it make sense for the island towns to join the Cooperative or if the island wants to do something on their own. The Cooperative would not prevent any members to do any other approach on their own. Maggie said it is complicated topic and she would be happy to come back again. Lenny said we would put it on the Agenda for future meeting.
Appointments to the Health Counsel
John/Carlene moved to appoint to the Health Council for 2-year term Valerio DeStefani, Connie Teixeira, Suzie Wasserman, Stephen Dantzig, Bobbie Lima and Domingo Pagan. Discussion: Tristan asked if all the people where asked if they want to serve. Lenny said yes. So voted. All in favor.
National County Government Week
Lenny read a Proclamation of May 3-9,2009 as a National County Government Week:
WHEREAS, the nation’s 3,068 counties provide a variety of essential public services to communities serving 300 million Americans; and
WHEREAS, Dukes County and all counties take seriously their responsibility to protect and enhance the health, welfare and safety of its residents in sensible and cost-effective ways; and
WHEREAS, many county government initiatives and programs involve the protection of valuable and vulnerable environmental resources in communities; and
WHEREAS, the National Association of Counties is the only national organization that represents county governments in the United States; and
WHEREAS, the National Association of Counties created National County Government Week in 1991 to raise public awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of the nation’s counties to meet the needs of the community; and
WHEREAS, NACo and Dukes County are working together to Restore the Partnership between all levels of government to better serve American communities;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT we, the County Commissioners do hereby proclaim May 3-9, 2009 as National County Government Week and encourage all Dukes County officials, employees, schools and residents to participate in county government, services and activities.
Dukes County is taking part in National County Government Week to raise awareness and understanding about the roles and responsibilities of county government. County feels that the environment is important and is joining other counties to support this year’s theme - “Greening Our Future.”
Within Dukes County there are number of programs to protect and preserve the environment. You can learn more about the county services and programs provided by visiting www.dukescounty.org. National County Government Week is sponsored by the National Association of Counties, The Voice of America’s Counties. www.naco.org
John/Tristan moved to approve the resolution. So voted. All in favor.
Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard
is the new name of the facility (formerly MSPCA) and the County assumed a leadership in making it a success. We started on May 1st. We are leasing the building in Edgartown from the MSPCA for one year at $0 rent. We established a budget for the first year. We talked to the towns about the plan to use the county’s reserve fund to operate the shelter and that the towns would replenish the county’s reserve fund later. We are looking at a 6-month operation to see where we stand. We appointed a temporary Board of 5 members to oversee the operation. Lisa Hayes was hired to manage the facility. The lease includes condition that the property be used only for a care of animals; otherwise the lease could be terminated in 30 days. The intent of the MSPCA is to give us the building and the land in the future if all goes well. We have
volunteers who want to help at the shelter and some already did. The donations to date are $19,660. We will be opening the building to the public on May 15th.
Courthouse roof repair
We received the specifications for the roof repair from WJE last week on Tuesday. On Wednesday we send it up to DCAM. On Wednesday we also received a waiver for emergency proceeding from DCAM. We received 3 proposals and tomorrow we will have a pre-construction meeting with the interested contractors and the WJE representative on the roof. We hope to start the project as soon as possible.
Sheriff’s Bill update
The Bill came out of the Senate last week with the provisions to hold the Counties financially harmless. The blank provision about the property returning to the County in the event it is not used by the Sheriff did not make it to the Bill. We intend to resubmit the amendment and make it specific to the Jail in Edgartown.
Tom made a presentation regarding this issue. According to the Administrative Code and our Charter (MGL) the commissioners must select a county legal counsel, which we did at the last meeting by appointing Marcia Cini from Cini Miller Offices. The other 4 candidates that submitted proposals were Kopelman & Page, PC, Gilman & Associates, PC, Brackett & Lucas, and Blatman, Borrowski & Mead, LLC. Tom and Russell reviewed the proposals. They all differed in pricing and on what issues they handle and how many municipalities they presented historically and at the present. Presently we use Gilman, which is the most expensive. Other sources for dealing with the labor issues the County has are Employee Assistance Program (EAP). We have currently two, one provided by MIIA as part of our workers’ compensation and one costing $5K per
year that we signed up for 3 years. We have used this program in the past. We also have a Personnel Board to deal with personnel issues. Historically the Sheriff’s department was the one mainly using the labor counsel. As he is most likely leaving on July 1st the County, our needs from the labor lawyer will change. Tom feels that we do not need to act on it right now and appoint a labor counsel as this is not a requirement of the Administrative Code and we do have mechanism in place to look at our needs if they come up for a specific issue. Also the labor counsel that we appoint now might not be the appropriate for the specific issue that might come up in the future. Russell recommended waiting until on July 1st when we know what happens with the Sheriff’s Department. Lenny said that the recommendation would be that if we do not choose one counsel it would give us more flexibility and instead of choosing one labor counsel we could choose one for a specific
issue. Carlene said that she feels that if issues come up they need to be addressed quickly and it would hard to choose lawyer in just couple of days. Lenny said he thinks it is the County Manager’s responsibility and together with the County counsel Marcia Cini, they would choose the appropriate lawyer to be retained for specific issue. Carlene said that it could be a situation where it involved the Manager and she feels that the Commissioner should revisit this issue in July and then discuss the retention of labor counsel.
John/Carlene moved to accept Tom’s recommendation not to appoint any labor counsel right now and wait until July 1st to discuss it further. Discussion: Les and Tristan agreed with Carlene that we should appoint the labor counsel and discuss it further after July 1st. Russell would pick the right person for a job if it comes up between now and July 1st. So voted. All in favor.
The animal rescue site challenge
You could help the new Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard by going to this website www.theanimalrescuesite.com. Click on the purple button that says, "click here to give - it's FREE” and that actually donates free dog food to shelters. That will bring up another web page and on the top click on “Vote Now”. That will take you to the Animal
Rescue Site $100,000 Shelter Challenge. In the middle of the page you can vote for your favorite animal shelter. If you put in state - MA, town – Edgartown, the MSPCA of Martha's Vineyard comes up. VOTE for this shelter. After the vote you will be asked to confirm your vote. You can vote EVERY DAY until JULY 29th. We were unable to add or change the name to the new Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, but we confirmed with the MSPCA that any money that could be gotten from this contest would go to the new Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, regardless of the name. The Commissioners asked Martina to contact all the schools to see if they would participate in the computer classes.
Emergency Management Director’s Brief to the Commissioners
Chuck Cotnoir explained the situation on H1N1 flu (formerly know as Swine Flu). Currently there are 45 confirmed cases in MA, all are expected to fully recover, and only 3 were hospitalized. No confirmed cases on MV. All who traveled to Mexico over the spring break have passed the 7-day incubation period at this point. The lead agency to distribute any information about the flu is MA Department of Health and the Boards of Health in each town. This strain of flu was very easily passed from person to person. There may be a second wave that may be more virulent. This is a good trial for the health agents. Chuck is monitoring the situation on the internet (WHO, Mass DPH websites etc.) and is in contact with the Boards of Health, Mass Emergency Management and is reporting to Russell. He will devise a plan on how the government would still keep
carrying out the essential functions with fewer employees. There could also be a supply issue on the island as we have only about 3 day worth of supplies. Chuck did get supplies for the county building. He sent out bulletins to all county employees with information about the flu. The flue went very fast around the world, only in 5 days. If it were a deadly virus, we would be in serious trouble. Tristan asked if vaccine were developed, how would the vaccine be distributed on the island. Chuck said he is the logistics section chief for the dispensing site and he will be involved in setting up the main dispensing sites. Chuck said we are closer to solutions on how many dispensing sites there would be. The final decision would be by each town’s Board of Health. The big emergency management issue for all the governments is to have some continuity plan in place during the pandemics, which is different from the plan in case of a natural disaster; with pandemics you could have only 35% of
your usual work force available. Russell thanked Chuck for his diligence and work on this.
The Edey Foundation granted the Fishermen’s Association $3K to be used for their efforts. We will be sending them a Thank you letter.
John/ Carlene moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:52 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts