COMMISSIONERS REGULAR MEETING
The regular meeting of the Hancock County Commissioners was brought to order by Commissioner Clark at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday October 5, 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: none
MOTION: Move to approve the agenda as presented (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Public Comment: none
MOTION: Move to approve the minutes of the September 8, 2021 Regular Meeting and the September 15, 2021 and the September 28, 2021 Special Meetings, all as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Parties were not able to be present; recognition will take place during the second meeting in October.
ARP / Broadband-
Consultant John Dougherty of Mission Broadband addressed the Commission regarding broadband in the County. He intends to focus on mapping, gathering data from towns, and communicating with providers to determine where they are now and where they plan on building, in order to understand where the gaps are. When asked how the County should focus resources, Dougherty said balance is the key and the goal is that everyone is served somehow. Dougherty will be meeting regularly with Barbee and CA Adkins.
MOTION: Move to accept and file the Airport Manager’s report dated September 27, 2021 (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Airport Maintenance Director Richard Gray recommended accepting the bid from Dorr’s Equipment; this UTV met all the specifications of the bid requirements.
MOTION: Move to purchase the airport UTV from Dorr’s Equipment for the amount of $18,010.10 as recommended. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to approve the Transfer Request to accommodate the purchase of the UTV in the amount of $1,260 from the Airport Contingency Fund, G02-3031-00, to the UTV Replacement Account G 02-3010-62 (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to accept and file the UT Director’s report as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to approve and sign the Grand Falls Township Salt/Sand & Snow Removal between Hancock and Penobscot Counties as presented and recommended (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to approve the Snow Removal Agreement between the County of Hancock and the Town of Waltham as presented (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
The Commissioners reviewed the initial 2022/2023 UT Budget. The total tax assessment is $204,512, a decrease of 2.14%
MOTION: Move to approve the UT Budget as presented and forward it to the State Legislature for enactment (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
EMA Director Sankey explained the parameters of the Homeland Security Grant Program and how the funds are utilized in Hancock County.
MOTION: Move to accept and file the EMA Director’s Homeland Security Grant Program Update dated October 5, 2021 as presented, as well as his EMA update dated September 30, 2021 as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to approve advertising for an EMA Administrative Assistant as recommended. (Paradis /Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to accept and file the Facilities Director’s report dated September 29, 2021 as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to Authorize the Chair to sign the Architect Agreement between Hancock County Commissioners and Sealander Studio LLC as presented and recommended. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
At this point, in the interest of time the Commission reviewed the RCC report.
MOTION: Move to accept and file the RCC Director’s September Report as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Commission Chair opened the one bid submitted for snow removal services. The bid was from RF Jordan. Facilities Director Walls will review the bid and come back with a recommendation.
MOTION: Move to transfer $10,000 from Account E 24-70-300, Vehicle Budget to E 24-70-100 Equipment Budget as recommended to cover the purchase of the Jail’s convection oven. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to overspend the Equipment Budget account, E 24-70-100, to facilitate the purchase of the Jail’s convention oven and legs, as recommended. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Tax Abatement Appeal Hearing / Adam Woodrow v. Town of Dedham
Applicant Adam Woodrow and Town of Dedham Assessor Herb Dickey were sworn in by Commissioner Clark. Woodrow questioned the valuation being based on the view; his base house lot is $75,000, representing a superior view. Woodrow referenced neighboring properties with better views, one with a view of Mount Katahdin, but with a lower valuation. He said the property is $100,000 more than the fair market value. Herb Dickey, Assessor’s agent for the Town of Dedham said some views were less valuable, because of the road. He said the applicant looks over the valley, not the road. Dickey said there is no general criteria about view- it is completely judgement. He said in 2015 RJD did a town-wide revaluation and the $75,000 base was his interpretation of what they did. Dickey referenced an untimely filing and said the original abatement request was for 2021, which hadn’t been committed yet. The applicant corrected that to 2020 but Dickey said this was filed too late, although the town granted the applicant an audience to hear the abatement request and subsequently denied it. After discussion of the town’s abatement process and the documents submitted, the Commissioners agreed that it is appropriate to hear the appeal; the town made a decision regarding the 2020 abatement request, which the applicant now wished to appeal with the Commission. Mr. Woodrow said he is asking to be assessed at the same rate as the neighboring properties with similar views. He said further up the hill from his property the view is better, and that his view has been diminished over time due to tree growth.
After hearing both parties, Commissioner Clark closed the hearing at 10:34 a.m.
Deliberations: Tax Abatement Appeal / Schwartz v. Town of Sullivan
Commissioner Paradis said he believes this valuation is manifestly wrong and referenced two pieces of evidence: the appraisal dated August 14, 2018, and sales data in the Town of Sullivan, which shows in all but 2 cases that the assessed value is quite a bit in excess of what sales prices indicate. After performing a spreadsheet analysis he determined the valuation was manifestly wrong and there was no evidence to counter for the Commissioner to consider.
Commissioner Wombacher said he did not find there was enough evidence to find the valuation was manifestly wrong. The appraisal was more than 3 years old and was incomplete. The provided comparables cannot really be analyzed in a way that determines the just value of the property. Commissioner Wombacher said it was not proven that the town’s assessment was manifestly wrong.
Commissioner Clark said even though the process says we have to determine whether it is manifestly wrong, in order to do that we must come to some general consensus of what the value is before you can determine if it’s manifestly wrong. Commissioner Clark referenced two pieces of evidence, although both are suspect and can be challenged. One is the appraisal; he is not sure how much weight to give it as it is more the 3 years old, with no supporting documents to explain it. However, even without that, the appraisal is almost $500,000 less than the town’s assessed value. The other evidence is the neighboring property, which has half the shore value, but ten times the road frontage than the applicant’s property. This property is assessed at almost half of what the applicant’s property is. Commissioner Clark said he believes the assessment is manifestly wrong.
MOTION: Move that based on the evidence provided the assessed value of the James Schwartz property located at 23 Sea Mist Lane in Sullivan, Maine in relation to the just value is manifestly wrong and an injustice resulted (Paradis/Clark 2-1, Wombacher opposed)
Commissioner Wombacher said one of his issues is that they have to base the decision on the evidence presented and there was not enough documentation from the appraisal or recent sales.
Commissioner Paradis shared the spreadsheet he developed from the evidence submitted, and determined the ration from the sales and assessment data.
MOTION: Move that the just value of the James Schwartz property located at 23 Sea Mist Lane in Sullivan, ME is $619,637 and direct that County Staff in consultation with County Legal Counsel develop findings of fact in this matter for consideration at the October 18, 2021 Special Hancock County Commission Meeting. (Paradis/Clark 3-0, motion passed)
Deliberations: Tax Abatement Appeal / Me Bus Retreat v. Town of Sullivan
Commissioner Paradis said he was inclined to deny this appeal because he saw no evidence that the assessment was manifestly wrong.
Commissioner Wombacher said he did not feel that credible evidence was provided to show the just value of the property is manifestly wrong and referenced the incomplete appraisal and lack of documentation of comparable sales.
Commissioner Clark said he did not feel that there was sufficient information to determine that the land is unfairly assessed although he is bothered by the high valuation of the building, given the applicant’s testimony that the building is unlivable and not worth being restored. He said he believed the value was much less than the town’s assessment and an abatement should be given.
MOTION: Move, that based on the evidence provided, to deny the abatement request of Maine Business Retreat, LLC for the property located at 41 Shorewood Drive since it failed to prove that the assessment is manifestly wrong. (Paradis/Wombacher 2-1, Clark opposed, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to approve the Treasurer’s bills and warrants as presented. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
The Treasurer’s memo listed the following:
September GF, Airport and Jail Payroll Warrants #21-34, #21-35, #21-36, #21-36a, #21-37, #21-38 in the aggregate amount of $805,600.44;
September GF, Airport and Jail Expense Warrants #21-51, #21-52, #21-53, #21-54, #21-55, #21-56, in the aggregate amount of $888,577.84;
September UT Payroll Warrants #22-9, #22-10, #22-11, #22-12, and #22-13, in the aggregate amount of $1,372.55;
September UT Expense Warrants #22-5 and #22-6, in the aggregate amount of $1,949.69;
MOTION: Move to authorize the Chair to sign the Frenchman Bay Conservancy Trail Easement as presented and recommended. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to award the 2021-2022 County Campus Snow removal contract in the amount of $5,000 to R.F. Jordan as recommended and authorize the Chair to sign the contract. (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
MOTION: Move to adjourn (Paradis/Wombacher 3-0, motion passed)
Deputy County Administrator