Dukes County Commission Meeting Minutes
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
County Administration Building
Call to Order
Chairman Carlene Gatting called the County Commissioners' meeting to order at 5:03 p.m. Commissioners Lenny Jason, Tristan Israel, Leslie Leland, Melinda Loberg, Tom Hallahan and John Alley were present.
Also in attendance were County Manager Russell Smith, Executive Assistant Martina Thornton, County Treasurer Noreen Mavro-Flanders, Assistant County Treasurer Carol Grant, Veterans Agent JoAnn Murphy, Airport Manager Sean Flynn, Elaine Graves, Ryan Collins and Joanie Ames of MVTV.
Lenny/Melinda moved to accept the11/16/09 minutes. All in favor.
John/Lenny moved to accept the 12/9/09 minutes. All in favor.
Presentation - Marc Hanover
The revenues were down 6.9% last year but the SSA ended the year with a $3.5 million net operating income thanks to several cost saving measures (used 109K gallons of fuel less last year). Carried about the same amount of passengers. Full rate cars up from 5,000 last year to 8,000 this year. It might have been also due to the fact that they started to use the street lists to sign people for excursion rate and that might have eliminated people that were not eligible. The trucks were down by 8.2%. SSA received $7million in federal and $1.5million in state funding for projects. In Hyannis they are putting two slips next to each other to help the traffic flow. Oak Bluffs is in its final phase. Town of Oak Bluffs asked for additional bathroom, right now the project is about 3 weeks behind and about $0.5million over budget. Should be done by the
end of April.
On-line booking is up 38%. They will discount trucks taking recyclables off island (not for coming back on). SSA bought 40 acres off of Thomas Landers Road, which consists of 3 industrial lots - Lot 1 would hold 1900 cars, Lot 2 700-800cars, Lot 3 & 4 are forested. Lot 4 is zoned as agricultural zone. It cost $10million and will be paid over 7 years. We have now Palmer Ave lot, Gifford Street, Sun lot and one up by Ottis Rotary. Two of those lots are leased. There is cost to men all the lots, for security and to bus people to the boat. We could start using the big lot in two years. Falmouth Ice Arena is also looking to relocate and we would like to negotiate and take over their property next to Palmer Ave. There is potential for more efficient operation. Lenny asked if the Vineyarders will be able to keep using the lot in Woods
Hole. Marc said yes. Noreen asked if the permit prices stay same. Marc said it will stay the same this year. They are looking into building a freight vessel, which is promoted by New Bedford. Marc sees it as money looser. If the barging of the trash of island happens it would make more room on the boats. The Eagle is at its midlife refurbishment ($7.8 million, 27 years old). They are putting a loading ramp on. Marc presented a spreadsheet showing the Embarkation Fees for last year and totals by town from 2004-2009.
Processing of parking tickets – Carol Grants
Plymouth County is currently processing the parking tickets for all island towns. Since last summer we have serious problems with the service. We could do it in house and keep the $17K revenue that we now send to Plymouth County. We would purchase new software very comparable to what Plymouth County is using. All towns agreed to do this.
Tristan/John moved to have the Parking Clerk process the parking tickets in house. Discussion: Tom asked what would be the up front cost. Carol said $25K that would be spread over 5 years; it would be paid from the Parking Clerk’s budget and be covered by the revenue, which is about $18K annually. Carol added that we would also save on postage etc. There might be also a possibility to take on processing of the parking tickets for Nantucket. The program that we would purchase would also allow us to send out and track parking permits for the towns. Russell commented that it would also benefit the people who come to pay the tickets as the processing would be more timely. So voted. All in favor.
We had a presentation at the last meeting about the switch from 90/10 to 75/25 split in health insurance cost and change of the pay scale associated with it. Melinda asked how the 4% increase in steps would work with the income from town budgets. Noreen said that only 7 people will affect the county general fund budget, the rest of the people do not affect it. Two out of the 7 (VHCAP and Rodent Control) decrease by 10% per year how much it is costing the County and in couple of years when they are fully funded by the towns, it would only effect 5 people, who would at that point reach the maximum as the pay scale is shorter. The actual dollar amount to keep these people “whole” is minimal. Russell said that the numbers that are in the presentation – the 4% step in the scale is covered by the decrees in health insurance cost by the County. The
end result is net gain to the County. The 10% decrease in cost for the 2 programs was not calculated in and so it would be additional savings. Noreen said that the increase in the plan that is used by the most employees is 6.8% for next year, Harvard Pilgrim PPO did not increase at all and the Harvard Pilgrim HMO increased by 5.7%. Noreen added that the increase is only 2% as the current steps are 2% already. Melinda asked Sean to talk to the process at the Airport. Sean said that as it is voted for the 7 county employees, he will notify the unions and it would take minimum of 3 months to negotiate the impact if it is positively received. If it is negatively received it could be a 5 year process. To have a positive response he personally feels it needs to be introduced together with the new pay scale and keep the employees “whole”. For planning purposes he will not use the 75/25 until the decision with the unions is reached.
Tristan/Les moved to go to 75/25 and adopt the new 6 step pay scale and put it in effect at the same time. Discussion: Russell said that there was ad hoc Personnel Committee consisting of the Sheriff, Diana Powers – Register of Deeds and Martina Thornton – the Exec. Assistant. He would like to include Sean Flynn, the Airport Manager and have this committee to review the Personnel Bylaws and issues that are tied to this decision. Lenny said that first we need to formalize the Personnel Committee as it was never formally formed. They were only reviewing job descriptions, grading it and gave recommendation to the County Manager. Tom said that he is not comfortable with the process the changes in health insurance split are mixed together with the change in pay scale as he sees it as two separate issues. He is in favor of having a
personnel review board that would look into the job descriptions and personnel issues and that we are spending tax payers’ money efficiently. Carlene said that adopting the new pay scale will not preclude us from making changes after the review. Lenny said that when we originally did the classification we hired Mass Municipal to do it and Sheriff paid $5K for it. John also did not like that the pay scale change was part of the 75-25 discussion. So voted. In favor: Les, Carlene, Tristan, Lenny, Melinda. Abstained: Tom and John. (5-0-2) Motion carried.
Noreen said that the group of people that Russell was talking about could be more involved then just to look over the benefits and bylaws. We had issues when employee would need a real personnel committee to go to. Tristan would like to see a description of the functions of the Personnel Committee. Lenny said that Russell administers the personnel policies and he should come up with recommendations if he feels that it needs changing. Russell said that we could have a Personnel Board with more capacity as it is done at the towns. The personnel committee should look at specific issues as well as if we should create the Personnel Board. The changes in Personnel Bylaws and the Administrative Code must be ultimately adopted by the Commissioners. Tom said that there is a question about the management versus board oversight. Tom would like to see
in the annual report the personnel report showing that all positions are utilized effectively. There could be a personnel liaison or ad hoc committee to talk to the manager about those issues because of the changes that happened. John pointed out that the Commissioners should not be micromanaging. Sean said the Airport Commission created a Personnel Sub-committee and it did clear up the question of what needs to be brought to the Sub-committee and to the full Commission. Lots of these issues are very time consuming, we do not want to take up the Commissioners time as they are unpaid volunteers. He encourages the Personnel Bylaw reviews as right now the Airport is unable to use it and some practical issues must be addressed first (Mon through Fri 9am to 5pm operation does not fit the Airport). Noreen said that unlike the County Personnel Bylaws the Airport Personnel Bylaws do not stop with the Manager and the employees have a place to go if they have problem with the management.
Melinda suggested that the employees and management research the personnel bylaws and prepare new policies and then work with the Commissioners' Personnel Sub-committee to refine it before it is brought up to the full Board. Carlene created Personnel Sub-committee: Melinda. Tom, Lenny. John opposed the creation of the Sub-committee. Melinda said that this Sub-committee will wait until Russell brings any recommendation in front of them.
Labor Lawyer discussion
Tom made a summary presentation: Marcia Cini was appointed as the County’s general counsel and will not be competing for the position of the labor lawyer with the remaining 4 applicants, which are:
- Blatman, Borrowski, & Mead, LLC (Millis) – missing financial information – disqualified.
- Brackett & Lucas (Worcester) @ $145/hr. Paralegal $55/hr. Serves 19 towns, municipalities, or regional government entities.
- Gilman & Associates, P.C. (Wellesley) @ $185/hr. Paralegal @ $125/hr. Serves nine towns, counties or sheriffs’ departments.
- Kopelman & Page, P.C. (Boston) @ $170/hr. Paralegal @ $85/hr. Serve for 121 town counsel or city solicitor.
Tom/Tristan moved to have Kopelman & Page to be the county labor lawyer. Discussion: John asked why. Tom said that it was a decision between Gilman and Kopelman, where Kopelman is cheaper, malpractice is double in coverage and serves 121 towns. Tristan said that Kopelman & Page is a town counsel for the Town of Tisbury and they have been responsive, they have lawyers with expertise in different areas and they did a good job over the years for the town. John asked why Brackett & Lucas was not part of the decision. Tom said that their proposal was not customized to our needs. Melinda said that their location in Worcester might be a problem too.
Lenny said that he worked with both and Kopelman’s office gave two different opinions on the same issue about 9 years ago to the VTA. He would like to try Brackett & Lucas.
So voted. In favor: Carlene, Tristan. Les, Tom, Melinda. Oppose: John, Lenny. Motion carries. (5-2-0)
The annual evaluation of the County Manager is up. Commissioners received the evaluation forms in their packets. Russell will also do a self-evaluation. Each commissioner will review people as follows: Melinda will talk to Martina Thornton and T.J. Hegarty; Carlene – Michael McCormack, Dianne Powers, Pam Dolby (Edgartown); Tom – Noreen Mavro Flanders, Michael Dutton (Oak Bluffs); Les – Sarah Kuh, JoAnn Murphy; Lenny – Carol Grant, Tim Carroll (Chilmark), Jeff Burgoyne(Aquinnah) ; John – Jennifer Rand (West Tisbury), Tribe; Tristan – John Bugbee (Tisbury). The deadline for the forms back to Martina’s office is February 17th. The evaluation committee will meet and we should have a report at the next meeting on February 24th. Russell clarified that his contract goes January 1st to January
1st. The first half year was a probationary period.
Russell informed the Commissioners that we supported the Housing Rehabilitation Grants as we did in the past. It is for existing housing rehabilitation and almost all the work is done locally.
Auditors – We are in a stage of fine tuning the reports as there were mistakes in the reports that need to be addressed. Noreen would like to schedule the exit conference. Carlene asked for the audit reports ahead of the meeting.
Tristan said that T.J. was at the Tisbury Selectmen’s meeting and they were discussing the town’s share of his program. They had the 60-40 split numbers from last year but it should have been 70-30 split for FY2011 and Tristan asked if there will be a vote on this and that we need to submit the warrant articles. Martina said that the FY2011 figures showing the 70-30 split with the spreadsheet and warrant articles went to Mr. Bugbee in November and she will follow up on it. Carlene said that we voted the process and we do not need to vote again. Russell confirmed that we submitted the warrant question to all the towns back in November.
Les would like to receive the packet on Friday before the meeting.
The MV Hospital received a construction grant from the Mass Dept. of Health and should be spending part of it on preventive care on the island. There is a group being formed to decide how to disburse the funds. Carlene would like to appoint a county representative. Tom said he would be interested. Carlene appointed Tom. Sarah Kuh from the Vineyard Health Care Access Program is also part of the group.
John asked why the County was not represented at the CPC meeting in West Tisbury. Russell said that he was not aware of the meeting and was not invited. John said that it was advertised in the newspaper.
Tom said that the All-island Fin Comm is looking at how the COLA is determined and are looking at a uniform procedure for all towns. He would like to suggest a predetermined calculation (medium COLA) for the County employees in their final findings. Carlene suggested that Tom talks to Fred Condon about it. Tristan added that they are looking into using a certain index as the guideline. Melinda said that the next All-island Fin Comm meeting is on February 1st at 4pm at the Tisbury Senior Center and they will have the discussion on a COLA with a ceiling and a bottom.
John /Lenny moved to adjourn the meeting at 6.55 p.m.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts