Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Leonard Jason, Jr. called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:10 p.m. Commissioners Tristan Israel, Les Leland, Melinda Loberg, Carlene Gatting and Tom Hallahan were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Assistant Treasurer Carol Grant, Mark Hanover, Connie Teixeira and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Les/Tristan moved to approve the minutes of May 6, 2009 meeting. So voted. All in favor.
Les/Melinda moved to approve the minutes of May 20, 2009 meeting. So voted. In favor: Tristan, Tom, Les, and Melinda. Abstained: Lenny.
Marc Hanover - SSA
George Balco was appointed by Tisbury as new port council member and is doing great job. The SSA approved new Park-and-ride agreement. A check for $388K for the Island Home plans was received. Washington State legislature ordered two more boats. We get a percentage of cost, which is better then flat fee. Phase 2 in Oak Bluffs is done and phase 3 is out to bid. Town asked for additional bathrooms in the new terminal building. SSA agreed and is working on the expansion of the terminal building, which added another $800K to the cost of the contract. There are issues with the expansion. SSA received $1.1 million from the stimulus package for the terminal and they are working to get more money for the Hyannis project to add a third slip. The Island Queen tried new type of bottom paint and now is saving about 7.5% on fuel. Unfortunately it
cannot be used on the big boats. New England Fast Ferry has reduced its schedule to two boats to Oak Bluffs and two boats to Vineyard Haven during the season Monday through Thursday. They are keeping the schedule on the weekends. Freight boats are down substantially. SSA canceled the schedule of freight boats and is only adding boats as the boats fill up and it works well and is saving about $300K in labor. Reservations are improving from 14% down in January to down by 6% in May. The internet reservations are getting more popular (about 40%). No weekends are sold out for the summer yet. Tom asked if work was done on the bridge in Woods Hole as they are letting people park there now. Mark said he saw Mass Highway Department there and he will check on it. Noreen asked if there is decision to discontinue the standbys. Mark said no, because everything is not sold out yet. They still do the blue line. There is a new program for college kids. Tristan said that there would be
a new shelter by the boat and one in the park & ride parking lot.
Carlene joined the meeting.
Connie Teixeira – Homeless
Connie is working on homeless prevention as opposed to homelessness. There will be a representative from the Cape coming for two days each month to help us thanks to the stimulus money. The Island Community Center and the Island Affordable Housing are working together and will provide in the fall, classes for people so they do not loose their homes. Connie is going to Washington to learn more about homelessness. Tristan said that the help from Cape is also for people with mental illness. Connie added that the mental health and abuse issues do make it hard to place homeless people. Tristan said that we need beds for adults, children and families on this island. Connie said that we need a facility for individuals and for families. To use the RV we need to take the beds and the kitchen out and that will make it easier to comply with the
Tristan / Carlene motion to create the position of Associate Commissioner for Homelessness. So voted. All in favor.
Carlene/Tristan moved to nominate Connie Teixeira to the position of Associate Commissioner for Homelessness. So voted. All in favor.
Lenny appointed Connie Teixeira as the Associate Commissioner for Homelessness.
Russell said that we sent letters asking our representatives to oppose cuts in programs for the mental ill and the elderly.
The shelter is up and running. On Saturday June 27th 12-2pm at Oak Bluffs Sunset Lake Park we will have a Pet Fair with a number of activities, including a good citizen dog certificates that are needed if you want to go with your dog to Elderly Housing. Plum TV will be filming it. There will be also an Open House at the shelter 10-12noon and 3-5pm.
Courthouse roof repair
The Courthouse roof repair started Monday above the courtroom section. The architect who did the specifications met with the contractor and so far all is going well. Tom asked if we asked for CPA funds. Carlene said that they would like to submit the application in September.
We would like to grade the parking lot before putting the gravel down. We are working with the Eastville beach committee; Tristan and Melinda are active on this committee. The Oak Bluffs Conservation Commission did approve the projects. The parking lot will be closed for two days to do it. Tristan said that they also did follow up with the State Fishing Access Board to improve the access road and create parking lots before the jetty. The clause that there will be no swimming will only apply to the area around the jetty, not the whole left part of the beach. This will happen fast and the Commissioners should ok the agreement. They would maintain the access road in case of any major storm and such. We would do the daily maintenance.
Old South Road
Old South Road belongs to the County. The Tribe came before the Commissioners in the past and they agreed that the Tribe could grade and pave the road. They made changes to the plan and are asking for vote to agree to go ahead with the new plan. Tristan/Les moved to approve the project with the changes under the condition that they will get the local town approval. Discussion: Carlene asked what it is now. Russell said that it is 0.5 mile paved and the rest down the hill is dirt road and it connects to Church Road that is paved. Russell showed the Commissioners the new plans. So voted. All in favor.
Tristan suggested for the County to offer to the towns assistance with submitting grants. We cannot offer to write the grants as they are very specific and we need the knowledgeable person to take the lead. We could offer the administration of the grants. Tristan said that they had couple of grants come up and they were hiring a company to write them for $6500. He would like to see the County as a resource for the community. It would be a needed service. Tristan /Carlene moved that Russell should send a letter to the towns to express our desire to help in this area. Discussion: Les asked if we have a person to help. Russell said that it would be him and Martina. Carlene said that the Barnstable County started with one person and now has a 5-member grant-writing department. She said that we could hire a person that would be helpful
to all the towns. The treasurer’s office is good in grant administering the grants. At the next All-island selectmen’s meeting we should bring this up. So voted. All in favor.
State requires that all public agencies that have retirement system forward fund their retirement system so that by 2028 there will be enough in a savings account so the interest would cover the needs. Dukes County was scheduled to be fully funded by 2023, but then the market went down and the returns are not good enough to support the schedule. We suggested to the State if we could for the next fiscal year forgo the forward payments we could save jobs in towns. For us it would be about $100K savings next year. We would like to go to the towns and ask if they would like us to pursue this on regional bases with the legislature. Noreen said that the Governor recognized the need and recommended a 10% decrease for two years and to make it up in the next two years. Our idea would be a local option for the different towns to forgo the payments
up to a certain percentage.
Noreen said that the Times called and she told them that we are waiting to see what will happen with the Sheriff’s Bill, as that will make a big difference for us. Russell said that Noreen developed two budgets - one with the Sheriff and one without the Sheriff’s Department and they are ready to go. Both budgets are balanced. If Sheriff’s Bill passes we will have a bigger cushion. We voted no COLA and 2% step increase, other towns have up to 5% increase.
Room Excise Tax Bill
This version of this bill was rewritten in the State house and it was not what we wanted to file. Rep. Madden is giving us two options, both are local option (the town could vote to enact it or not), both is a 2% room tax. First version – the tax would be split evenly between the town and the County. Second version – the tax would go to the County.
Rep. Madden thinks that the split is a better option. Tristan said he does not know what the community feels about it. He feels it would be difficult to do as local option as only some towns would adopt it and it would make more sense to do it regionally. Russell said that the local option would be given to every town in the state as part of the Community Restoration Act. Les/Melinda moved to support the first option of the bill with the 50/50 split of the tax between the County and the towns. Discussion: Les said that if we go on vacation we pay it. It does not affect the local residence; the tourists will be the ones paying it. So voted. In favor: Lenny, Carlene, Les, Melinda, and Tom. Tristan abstained.
Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative
Additional documents were e-mailed to everyone regarding the Cape & Vineyard Electric Cooperative and discussion will follow at the next meeting on June 24th at Aquinnah.
Island Wide Service Study
This study is to see if we could increase the efficiency in the delivery of public services. MVC has hired experts to do the study. We sent them annual reports from all the towns, the Charter Study reports and we will be asking the town administrators to fill in the blanks. This will be an analytical study by a disinterested third party with a report at the end. There will be no recommendations for implementation at local level.
Melinda said that the Ocean Plan for energy project will come out at the end of June and there will be short period for comment at the local level. Joann Taylor is a member of the committee at the state level and she is willing to come to our meeting to do a presentation regarding this issue that has a big impact on this island.
Les/Tristan moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:25 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts