Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Lenny Jason called the County Commissioner’s meeting to order at 5:05 p.m. Commissioners Melinda Loberg, Tom Hallahan, Tristan Israel, Carlene Gatting and Les Leland were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Jessica Burnham – member of the Animal Shelter Board and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Health Insurance Sub-committee report – Melinda Loberg
Melinda reported that based on information provided by Noreen they came to a conclusion to implement the 75-25 health insurance split by providing the employees with a lump sum in the first year of the change to compensate the difference based on the FY2010 health insurance rate. Noreen clarified that the lump sum is not for the first year only, but the whole salary scale would be raised by that amount. She presented the commissioners with a spreadsheet showing what would be the increase to the employee for each plan the county offers assuming an 8% increase in health insurance cost and calculation of the total for the 8 employees that affect the county budget. The thought is to give everyone $3,300 increase (the maximum possible increase to the employee) to the current pay, which would represent $6,831.75 cost to the County in FY2011.
She also presented same scenario for FY2012, which would result in a total cost to the County of $12,098.50 over the first two years. Tristan asked if the $3,300 would be one time payment. Noreen said that it is not a bonus; it is permanent increase in the salary. Tristan then asked what would be the scenario for a new hired person. Lenny said that they would be at 75-25 and there would be nothing added to their bases to compensate for the difference. Carlene said that it was supposed to be a cost saving measure but it would cost us more, so why do it. Noreen said it was not supposed to be a cost saving measure it was to bring us in line with the towns. It would be a cost saving measure in the long run. Carlene asked why to bump up everyone by $3,300 and not only by the amount that their health insurance share will be increased. Tom agreed and suggested to analyze the 8 employees to see who is not an individual plan, who is on the family plan and what would the increase to
each be and bump them up only by that amount. Carlene said that she understood that the increase would be only for the first year of the change but not in any following years and so the county should start saving money in FY2012. Tristan agreed that we can not afford a $12,000 loss and would also like to look at the individual plan differences rather then lump sum and give it out only the first year. Les said that he is not in favor of changing the whole pay scale. Lenny suggested for the Sub-committee to meet again and work on it some more. Russell added that the savings for the county would be over the years when the 8% increase in health insurance is calculated on 75 not 90% of the health insurance cost. The employee’s pay scale rises by 2% step each year but the health insurance cost raises 8%, they will be still loosing.
Flu and Island Wide Flu Clinic
Presentation on H1N1 Flu by Marina Lent
The H1N1 Flu is not the usual flu as it spreads much faster. The last reports said that 19 children died in last week only and we are not even in the high flu season yet. The study done in April confirmed that the mortality is among young people and it is very rapid when it gets serious. It is a new illness and we do not have immunity built up for it. Many people will get the flu as it is pandemic flu, the youngest groups will get it first (over 60% of cases is in people younger then 24 years old). Majority will have regular flu like symptoms (headache, fever) and will not need medical care. They should stay home, do not go to ER and do not spread it around. Few people will get very sick and they do need to go to ER, call 911, get help, as it is very rapid. About 2/3 of those people are people with high-risk medical conditions (asthma,
diabetes, heart disease, etc.). The high-risk group should get the antiviral medications as soon as they do get the flu. The key is not to spread the disease around so less people are exposed, vaccinate and give medication to the high-risk groups first. Carlene asked when to stay home and when to look for help. Marina said that in children look for lethargy and they get bluish, which is sign of respiratory problems. The main symptoms are shortness of breath and dehydration. Websites where you can look up more information are: www.flu.gov, www.cdc.gov (more details on H1N1), flu section on MV Hospital’s website or you can call 211, which is a Massachusetts information line.
Presentation on H1N1 Flu by Ron MacLaren, Heath Director for the Tribe
Ron said that they are working on pandemic preparedness with the heath agents and the county emergency director since 2006. The Vineyard received 200 doses of H1N1 last week and they were distributed 100 to the hospital and 100 to the Vineyard Pediatrics. The distribution will be done by risk groups. Ron went over the Tier 1 –4 risk groups. Tier 1 will be vaccinated at the doctor’s offices (pregnant women). They are working with the superintendent to vaccinate the kids. They anticipate receiving the vaccines for the general public by the end of November and first two weeks in December. The regular flu clinic is being held on Veteran’s Day at the High School. They suggested that this year the seasonal flu clinic is done sooner in the season (September), but the vaccines were not available at that time due to production of
the H1N1 flu vaccines. Tom asked who is paying for the seasonal vaccines. Ron said that the towns get money allocated each year for nursing contracts and use some of it to buy additional vaccines. They get certain allocation of vaccines from the MA Dept. of Public Health that is at no cost, but that is not enough. If the H1N1 vaccine is also available on Nov. 11th, they are talking about opening the clinic to children also, but right now the clinic is only for adults 18 years or older as matter of practicality and risk management. Anybody younger then 18 should go to get the seasonal flu vaccine at the pediatrics office. The staging areas are to check that the paperwork is filled out properly. Lenny asked how many vaccines are allocated for Massachusetts. Ron said it is about 2.1 million. So far they received 117,000 doses, which was less then 2% of their allocation. The H1N1 is at no cost provided by the U.S. government to all states. At the flu clinic we ask for
health insurance info and we bill Medicare for the administration. The forms to register are available on the county website, you print it, fill it out and bring it with you to the clinic. The forms are also available at all health agents, town halls, libraries, senior centers. We can make it available to other places as well.
Presentation on Island-wide Flu Clinic by Beth Toomey, West Tisbury Chief of Police
This year the Island-wide flu clinic is very involved as they were planning for a bigger clinic due to the H1N1 flu evolvement. After many meetings of all involved parties the decision was made that the medical people will work on preparing the dispensing plan and the public safety agencies will work on the public safety piece and will not be involved in the dispensing activities and vice versa. There will be two staging areas – one in Waban Park in Oak Bluffs and one in West Tisbury at the Ag Hall to prevent traffic jams at the High School and to ensure public safety. These staging areas might not work if it snows. In West Tisbury we are working with the West Tisbury Fire Department and the Salvation Army volunteers. There will be medical people there also. The idea is for people to stay in their cars to prevent cross-contamination.
This is planning for a higher risk event already. The volunteers would come to the car and screen the registration forms. This way only people eligible for the vaccine are sent to the dispensing site. We are asking people to work with us on any challenges and problems they could have, they could contact any police chief. There will be a drive-through vaccination available at the dispensing site, which even lessens many risks involved with public flu clinic. Tristan asked how long would people have to wait in their car before they could get the vaccine. Beth said that this time they do not expect long waiting periods at all. It might be different in a larger event. There might be a lottery system utilized in the future if not enough vaccines are available. Marina said that if there is a public clinic held for H1N1 flu it would be for most of the public, it would not be restricted only to certain Tier groups. Carlene commented that for the Tier 2 group – children over 4 years
old, it might be difficult to even get an appointment in high flu season with Vineyard Pediatrics. Marina said that they are working on this as well with possible vaccinations in the schools, after schools or in a clinic. They have to wait until they receive the vaccines to decide how they will distribute it. Tristan asked if there is information available about pros and cons of vaccinating. People are encouraged to call their local heath agents for information. Not all info on the Internet is accurate. The side effects are being studied and there is always some risk, but you must weigh the risk of the vaccination versus the risk of the flu.
Presentation on Island-wide Flu Clinic by Chuck Cotnoir, Dukes County Emergency Director
The wait at the staging areas should not be long as the flu clinic moves fast. There are many people involved in planning of the clinic and there is cooperation between the county (who provides the equipment), the boards of health, tribe, all island selectmen, emergency managers etc. We are still looking for volunteers. If you are interested please call your local Board of Health Agents or the Dukes County Emergency Director’s office at 508- 693-3811 or the County Manager.
Tristan asked what is the difference between the shot and the nose application of the H1N1 vaccine. Marina said that the nose mist could be applied to healthy people between 2years and 49 years of age at it is a weaker active virus. The shot is an inactive virus. Kids younger then 9 years will need two shots at different dose, anybody above 9 needs only one shot.
CPA funds – County is applying for CPA funds in all 6 towns for work on the Courthouse, mainly replacing windows in the old part of the building. We divided the cost among the towns based on the 50/50 formula.
Ocean Management Plan Update – Russell and Lenny went to New Bedford and met with the Mayor about their interest in wind power as the two areas the State identified are very close to the islands, but the island does not have the necessary heavy industrial base needed for the construction and we are trying to establish collaboration with New Bedford as they would be involved in any project in our waters. Tristan suggested that the county commission send a representative to the prepared meeting of the island selectmen representatives with the Governor and make a point to look into projects in federal waters. Lenny and Russell said they would go.
Animal Shelter – We are at the end of the 6-moth probationary period. We did not use any county or town funds to run it. We would like to ask the towns to support the county in running it for another 6 months and renew the commitment to replenish the county reserve fund if needed. The fundraising by the Animal Shelter Board was very successful so far. Tristan said that in November the finance committees are starting to look at the town articles for the next town meeting, so keep that in mind.
Tristan also suggested for a future agenda discussion about involvement of the County Commissioners in cases where Board of Selectmen bans a particular dog from their town as it potentially crates a risk in a different town. Lenny suggested to Tristan to contact Dianne Powers to put it on the All-island Selectmen’s agenda.
Carlene left the meeting and took with her a letter from the County Treasurer and County Manager to the MV Commission offering to provide them with accounting services.
Jessica Burnham read her letter to the County Commissioners about her concerns regarding the due process in hiring the Animal Shelter Manager after the 6 months, the hiring of the second shelter employee. She was also concerned about the role of the Animal Shelter Board in the whole process as well as statements that the towns pledged funds towards future running of the shelter, which she does not feel are accurate. She referred to her first letter to the Commissioners, which she gave to Mr. Jason and Russell where she was requesting a meeting with the county commissioners and was not allowed to meet with them. She informed the commissioners that she is resigning from the Animal Shelter Board of Directors immediately. Lenny commented that when he received her first letter he asked her if it was a letter from the Board and she
said no it was from her as an individual. Lenny told her then that he would not entertain a letter or complaint from an employee or board member if it did not get approved by the Board. Jessica argued that it was her position and she did give copy of the letter the Board as well, so they knew about it. Russell said he will take responsibility for the decisions he made regarding the shelter and that we are working on a job description and the position of the shelter manager will go through due process. Lenny added that we would have to wait for a decision of the town if they will support the idea of the County running the shelter in the future, before we start the process. Melinda added that right now it is the County who provides the leadership; the Board might have a bigger role in the future. Tristan asked Jessica to reconsider the resignation.
Fuel Bid – we received one bid for the variable price - from R.M. Packer Co. for 68cents above the rack price in Boston, which is published every week in OPIS. Only entities that sign the acceptance of the bid with R.M. Packer Co. will have a contract for this price until the end of FY2010.
Les asked if the County Commissioners discussed creation of a full time position at the shelter. Lenny said no, as the discussion would be premature.
Russell said that we might not be able to meet in West Tisbury next time as they are having Selectmen’s meeting and their agenda is too full to have a joined meeting. Les said that the commissioners never had a joined meeting with any Board of Selectmen. Tristan suggested having the meeting on a different day to avoid the conflict.
Lenny went back to the 75-25 discussions and said that since health insurance cost goes up by 8% every year and the steps are only 2% than the $6,000 cost should be decreasing over time. Tristan said he is not in favor of giving a lump sum past the first year. Russell said that historically the County stayed at 90-10 because it was cheaper then to keep up with the town on salaries. Now we want to go with the same scenario as the towns. The intent as Lenny presented it was to hold the employees harmless. The employee would not get a one time big bonus, but rather changing the scale to be more commensurate with the towns. Tristan disagreed. Lenny said that he believes he has a commitment to the employees he hired at 90-10 to keep the commitment and to say we will now only pay 75% is not fair. Tristan disagreed.
Tom/Tristan moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:52 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts