October 19, 2021 CSM Minutes

COMMISSIONERS SPECIAL MEETING

The special meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Clark at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday October 19, 2021.  Commissioner Wombacher, Commissioner Paradis, County Administrator Scott Adkins and Deputy County Administrator Rebekah Knowlton were also present, as well as several Department Heads.  The meeting was held using a hybrid format and Department Heads and members of the public were able to attend in person or via Zoom.

Adjustments to agenda:

MOTION: Move to approve the agenda as presented with the exception of removing item 2 (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Public Comment: none

Meeting Minutes:

MOTION: Move to approve the minutes of the October 5, 2021 Regular Meeting as presented (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Employee recognition:

Employee recognition was moved to the November meeting, as the employees are not able to be present today.

Barbee Business Services / ARP Consultant:

ARP / Revenue Loss Grant Awards

MOTION: Move to acknowledge the award of an ARP/Revenue Loss Grant to Buck Memorial Library in the amount of $9,475.09 as awarded by the Grant Awards Committee. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

MOTION: Move to acknowledge the award of an ARP/Revenue Loss Grant to St. Croix Garden Club/Hancock District in the amount of $5,604.15 as awarded by the Grant Awards Committee. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Update on Premium Pay responses-

Although emails soliciting input from municipalities were sent out weeks ago, only 6 municipalities have submitted responses.  Commissioner Paradis said he had been contacted by some municipalities and he felt that continuing to request responses may not accomplish anything.  He referenced the differential funding, which the Commission has no control over. Commissioner Clark said they will put this matter on the November 2, 2021 for discussion.

MOTION: Move to approve the Mission Broadband Proposal and Agreement as recommended and authorize the Chair to sign both documents. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Broadband Update-

John Dougherty of Mission Broadband spoke about goals, including the need to understand the landscape of current broadband.  He referenced Connect Maine Authority; it is a source of additional funding aware of four other broadband projects.  Commissioner Clark questioned how to make the greatest impact- on a regional basis or piecemeal- as municipalities come to us.  Dougherty said some towns are ready to go and he has started the discussion with them.  A meeting with Municipal Leaders has been scheduled for October 25.  An update and discussion regarding that will be on the November 2, 2021 meeting agenda.

Airport:

MOTION: Move to approve the agreement with Black River Management Co. LLC & The Butler Foundations to advertise said family funded Maine charitable foundation on the north wall in the Arrivals Hall of the Airport terminal building as requested and recommended and authorize the Chair to sign the agreement. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Solar Array Project – Beth Woolfolk, A Climate to Thrive / Presentation on solar project proposed at Hancock County Bar Harbor Airport-

Beth Woolfolk of A Climate to Thrive presented information on a solar project at the airport.  Woolfolk discussed the advantages of hosting a solar array, including income from the lease agreement and a savings in electricity costs for the airport and others. Woolfolk reviewed similar projects at other airports in Maine.  Development would cost approximately $2 per KW.  Woolfolk said depending on the lease agreement there may be an option to purchase- decommissioning the project would be more costly to the developer.  The Commissioners agreed that Airport Manager Muise should continue to look into the project.

Tax Abatement Appeal Hearing / Deliberations / Woodrow, Adam v. Dedham, Town of

Commissioner Clark said the applicant testified that his primary concern centers on the base site assessment.   In 2016 the property was assessed with a superior view, at a base price of $75,000.  Applicant contends that the view has become blocked by growing vegetation and should be assessed as a moderate view, a base price of $40,000.  The Commissioners cannot adequately assess whether the property has a superior view. An error of $35,000 when compared to the overall assessment of the property does not meet the threshold for being manifestly wrong and for this reason he does not support granting the abatement.

Commissioner Wombacher said he did not find the assessment to be manifestly wrong, that the town used the same criteria on several properties and the point of contention seems to be a question of aesthetics and what is considered a superior view.  He saw no evidence that the assessment was unfair or biased and he agreed that the difference between the $40,000 and the $75,000 does not constitute an unfair valuation.

Commissioner Paradis said it must be assumed that the assessment is correct and evidence must be presented to prove that it is manifestly wrong.  Although there was testimony, there was no evidence to support that- no appraisal was submitted, just comparisons from neighboring lots.

MOTION: Move, that based on the evidence provided, to deny the abatement request of Adam Woodrow for the property located at 448 Bald Mountain Road in Dedham, ME since it failed to prove that the assessment is manifestly wrong.  (Paradis/Clark 3-0, motion passed)

Commissioner Clark informed the applicant that he has the ability to appeal this decision to Superior Court.

County Administrator:

Budget Update & Discussion- Commissioner Clark said he’d like to get the budget down to a 5% increase.  CA Adkins suggested some options to lower the overall figure.  Commissioners Clark and Wombacher agreed that any changes should have been made by the Commissioners before the budget went to the BAC.  The Commissioners will review the budget and options during the November 2 meeting.

MOTION: To adjourn (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)

Meeting adjourned at 9:54 a.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Rebekah Knowlton

Deputy County Administrator

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