Dukes County Commission
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Dukes County Administration Building
9 Airport Road, Edgartown, MA
Commissioner Present: Tristan Israel, Melinda Loberg, Les Leland, Lenny Jason, Tom Hallahan.
Not present: John Alley, Carlene Gatting
County Staff present: Russell H. Smith – County Manager, Martina Thornton – Ex. Assistant, Noreen Mavro Flanders – Treasurer, Sean Flynn – Airport Manager.
*Others: Remy Tumin of Vineyard Gazette, Joanie Ames – MVTV.
Meeting was called to order at 5:05 PM
1. Minutes 6-22-2011
Les/Melinda moved to approve the Minutes of 6-22-2011. So voted. In favor: Melinda, Tristan, Les, Tom. Abstained: Lenny.
2. Airport – Sean Flynn – Sean reported that the reauthorization for the airport from FAA is tied up. He does not expect any workers here to be effected, it only affects future projects. We can not start new projects right now and the reimbursements for current projects will take longer.
Melinda reported that the Steering Committee discussed the pros & cons of separating the airport from the County. Tom asked if Mass Port would have a chance to take the airport as they did in Worcester. Sean said that Worcester was negotiated and the chance to take our airport is only theoretical. He would be in favor of the Commissioners to be proactive and steer the transition and take steps necessary to make sure it will stay in local control versus reacting at the time decision is forces upon us. Melinda said the Steering Committee felt it does not have enough facts to make decision regarding this. Sean spoke to the Airport Commissioners about expending money for researching what steps would need to be taken. Sean would find a law firm that has experience with this (that Worcester, FAA or Mass Port used). Working with FAA would be a
larger piece than drafting the legislation for the State. Melinda said that the Steering Committee was reviewing the idea because it was in the DOR report. It would have to be the Commissioners to decide if they want to explore it further. Tom said that there was no specific recommendation regarding the separation in the DOR report, it only states how the airport operates as enterprise fund and only relies on County for administrative services. Under section regarding the Steering committee it recommends to look at the Airport Commission to operate more independently more like the Steamship Authority. Sean said that the idea of separating the airport is a recurring idea and it would be good to look into it. Tristan said that he would like to see economic benefit to the island before any money is expended to research this. Issues from the past were resolved with the lawsuit and dealt with. The accountability to the island must remain in place. The county commissioners appoint
the airport commissioners and they are accountable to the County Commission and in the past it worked. This issue would only come up if the State abolishes the County. Sean said that there is no existing current cause in the relationship with the County to force this even though there are still issues to be worked out. Noreen said that the airport is an enterprise fund, which is a separate business like activity within the government unit same like water departments in towns that can retain earnings to support its activity. She also mentioned that the DOR report pointed out that they are not in favor of supplemental budgets, which shows that they do not have full understanding how County operates. It is the same as saying they don’t like special town meetings. Melinda said that the Steering Committee did discuss the recommendation of creating a Council of Government but the Charter Study explored the Council of Governments (COG) option and the Steering Committee did not feel
the need to repeat the work. Tristan said he suggested looking into keeping the County and appointing Selectmen as County Commissioners, which would require legislation and the members of the Charter Study Commission were worried about it. He felt it would give the County a better chance in raising revenue if the Selectmen were in charge. If the towns were behind a certain idea they could ask voters for extra money for it. Lenny said that nothing prevents the towns from doing it through a Memorandum of Understanding. Noreen said that we see results now when County Advisory Board, which is constituted from one selectman from each town, agreed to pay for the Integrated Pest Management Program (IPM) and the Vineyard Health Care Access Program (VHCAP) and now Oak Bluffs voters did not approve funding for IPM. The programs would be in jeopardy if more towns did the same. Melinda said that the all island selectmen’s meetings are a good forum for this and the county commissioners
are now invited to be present when an opportunity presents itself like with the Animal Shelter. Lenny said that even at the end of that meeting two towns did not agree to pay. Russell said that the IPM and VHCAP are done under the same structure as the COG and the towns need to buy into it. Other services of the County are done under a different structure, which makes the County flexible. He said that he does not see any problem from his prospective with the relationship with the Airport. Tom said that the budget process with the airport did not flow well timing wise and he would like to improve it next year. Sean said that the airport’s budget is done based on the most current information and that is why it is being done later. He can have the process completed in May.
Lenny asked what the outstanding issues between the County and the Airport are. Sean said that he and Noreen respectfully disagree on some issues, mainly the appropriation issue. There is no separate tax ID and DUNST # for the Airport. There are not many issues on property anymore. Sean does not feel bound by the decision of the County Advisory Board. He brings it to the CAB as a courtesy. Lenny said that someone needs to be liable for debt should it incur and if there is not enough assets to offset it, it would be the County and the towns asked to support the Airport. If the CAB says no to the airport budget they speak for the taxpayers.
Sean said that the Passenger Facility Charge process has started, it will take one year. The Airport would be asking for $4.50, which could increase up to $7.50. We could make justification for the higher amount but we must be cautious of what percentage of the ticket it would represent.
6. Manager’s Report
Kopelman & Page, P.C. – Martina said that per Tristan’s request we asked for them to start sending us Memoranda that they send to the towns. It will be filed in the Exec. Assistant’s office and the topics will be noted under correspondence on the Agenda.
Animal Shelter – fundraiser party last Friday was a big success thanks to the Fearey Family and the Board members who made it happen. Melinda added thanks to Martina and Russell.
Veterans’ services – e-mail from Mr. Antonaccio (see attached) informing us that the contract was sent for the first level of review. Lenny asked for the copy of the VA letter to Representative Keating and Senator Brown.
Fuel Bid – Two participants: Island Fuel and Packer Co. The Packer & Co. was the successful bidder. Two years ago it was 68cents above the Boston low rack price, last year it was 52 cents and this year it is 31.75 cents above the Boston low rack price. This will bring direct savings to the towns and other public entities.
Plymouth County Charter Study group members will come to talk to us on Monday.
Senator Scott Brown is coming on August 15th – invitation to breakfast was sent via e-mail.
Agricultural Society invited us to participate in the 150th parade on August 16th.
Mass Highway announced work on the draw bridge next Tuesday August 2nd. The traffic will be reduced to one lane. On August 11th at 9pm they will test the new auxiliary engine and the bridge will be closed completely with a detour. We alerted VTA and Hospital. (This was later canceled.)
Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) informed Noreen via e-mail that they will not look into the issue of the County providing some of the accounting services of the retired person because the new person needs to work with the retiring employee for two weeks. Tristan said he is very disappointed that they did not cooperate and they were not accommodating when we asked for the meeting to be rescheduled. Noreen met with Mark London, the executive director, three times with a proposal to make it work. It could save up to $50K per year. Only Noreen and Lenny could make the meeting last week. At that time there was no talk about a new person being hired. It was made clear to us that hiring the new person was the executive directors’ decision. Noreen told Mark she disagrees with their analyzes showing it would not save money.
The cost of that position is $105K; we could take over 55% of the work for about $40K. Some duties would have to stay with the MVC.
Tristan asked Russell to make sure that he gets on the agenda for Oak Bluffs and Edgartown selectmen regarding enforcing of the rules at the State beach.
Tom asked if we could get an electronic version of the SSA meeting Memoranda as the paper version is not very informative and he will prefer to have electronic links to the documents mentioned in the Memorandum.
Tom asked why were some items on the Old Business List removed without being acted on like the Administrative Code changes or the Capital Improvement Plan or there were things that are on-going like quarterly reports on budget. Tristan said that he asked Russell to reduce the list and if the commissioners want to ad anything to the list to contact Russell.
Noreen said that she took the Kopelman & Page Memo regarding the changes in the health insurance to the Cape Cod Municipal Health Group (CCMHG) meeting. They created a steering committee to meet every two weeks until October to discuss the strategies to deal with the new legislation. It is much more complicated then it seems. The purchase group proposed to work on it but the legislator pushed it through without any study. Now we have to come up with a plan that mimics the GIC health plan. The law also shortens the bargaining time to 30 days. The CCMHG will be inviting all interested union, town and County representatives to voice their concerns. The unions could have different rates than the entity they are part of – unlike now. Tristan asked about Section 21. Noreen said that clarification is needed as it does not specify
rules for the County. Tristan asked Russell to get the clarification, Noreen agreed to help. She said that Section 18 is now mandatory, meaning people have to sign up for Medicare once they are eligible. There is a 10% penalty of the premium if you don’t sign up. The County already accepted this Section a while ago and don’t have any retirees that it would effect.
Tom/Lenny moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:25 p.m. All in favor.
Respectfully Submitted by:
JOSEPH E. SOLLITTO JR., Clerk of the Courts
Documents presented at the meeting and part of the official records:
- Old Business List
- E-mail from Mr. Antonaccio
- Invitation letter from the MV Agricultural Society
- E-mail from Woody Williams re: veteran’s services on the island
- Steamship Authority – Memorandum from July 19th meeting