UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
FEBRUARY 3, 2020
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting minutes of January 6, 2020. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of January 6, 2020 as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
There was no cash on hand report prepared for this meeting. The funds on hand were reported the next day in the amount of $2,021,808.82 with designated capital funds set aside for capital projects in the amount of $1,007,600.00.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Efland moved to pay bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that there were 3 lines hit by the contractor installing fiber on Rolling Road including the force main (sewage main under pressure) on School Road and luckily, the pumps were not pumping when it was hit. He said that he had to get a pumper truck in to help with the issue, but the line has now been repaired. The other lines were water lines and a sewer lateral to a house.
Rev. Tolliver asked what caused the breaks. Mr. Sipes stated the force main was not located correctly, largely because the non-metallic materials used to construct the main are hard to detect using any method. He said that they made their best guess and marked the area, but the pipe was not at the located area and was hit. He said that the Town would pay for that problem, but the other 2 hits were due to the company not digging to the 5’ depth they were supposed to and probably broken by digging bars. The fiber installation contractor will have to pay for that work.
Rev. Tolliver stated that there were 4 different lines broken in the last 2 weeks caused by the same contractor. Mr. Sipes stated that the company should be held responsible for their work. Mr. Sipes stated that he thought the company was 95% complete on Rolling Road. He said that this is only the second gravity line hit from a house that he was currently aware of.
Rev. Tolliver asked about the $30,000.00 bill that was submitted to the contractor for the line they hit on a January weekend, when they went only 44” into the ground. Mr. Sipes stated that he told the contractor they had to have a certified plumber perform the repair work, and that Doug Nicholson would come in, but only with the understanding that the Town would make sure that the bill got paid. Mr. Sipes stated that the entire Utilities crew came in on a Sunday to finish the work. He said that $10,000 of the bill was for Nicholson plumbing and the rest was for the Town. He said that he shut down the company until they repaid the debt but did work out a payment plan on January 20th for $5,000.00 to be paid to the Town on the 20th of each month until the debt is paid. If payments did not come through as discussed or there was any further damage not paid for, he would shut them down again.
Mr. Sipes stated that the fiber optics are about 95% finished through the College Heights part of Town. He said that Coventry Farms, Washington Park, Flatland Road, along Rt. 291, and Foxley Manor are finished. Mr. Foster stated that there has not been any work on Byford Court or Richard Drive.
Mr. Foster stated that he has door hangers at his house from 2 different companies. Mr. Sipes stated that Talkie was getting close to finishing their work and Think Big was coming in behind them. He said that both companies would have the same requirements but did not know how this was going to work out because the first company’s installation is not yet active.
Mr. Herz asked if insurance would cover the homeowner who had their private line cut. Mr. Sipes stated that he thought it would be an insurance claim for the contractor. Mr. Herz stated that there was a program that could help homeowners afford a line if something breaks. Mr. Sipes stated that he did know of programs like this, but the Town does the work at cost. Otherwise, the homeowner might want to check their deductible. He said that the plans that he has seen are not worth the high cost of the insurance. Mr. Sipes stated that if the problem was not the fault of the contractor he would have replaced the line immediately.
Mr. Foster stated that he thought most people were not aware of the fact that they were responsible for their laterals. Mr. Sipes stated that it has always been that way in Chestertown, and it was the norm in most municipalities.
Mr. Sipes stated that the hydrant on Campus Avenue by the Kent County Middle School had a problem when the fire department tried to use it. He said that the school has early dismissal this Wednesday and the Town would fix the hydrant at that time. He said that homeowners in the area who would be affected will have notices on their doors tomorrow. Mr. Sipes stated that if anyone saw discoloration as a result of the work should call Town Hall to report it.
There being no further questions or comments, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:50 p.m., was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by: Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor