UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
MARCH 5, 2018
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members David Foster, Linda C. Kuiper, Rev. Ellsworth Tolliver and Mauritz Stetson, Bob Sipes (Utilities Director), W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager), Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk), and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting minutes of February 5, 2018. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes as presented, was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand is $1,703,922.16.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Mr. Stetson moved to pay bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that he was in the process of performing the biomonitoring and toxicity testing on the effluent from the wastewater plant (to determine if what is being put into the river is toxic to the aquatic life). He said that that this test is done bi-annually and he will convey the results to the Council when they become available.
Mr. Sipes stated that there was $7,000 bill paid to Haywood Engineering for hydraulics repairs to the UV unit.
Mr. Sipes stated that the winds from Friday’s storm wreaked havoc at the water plant. He said that the electric was flickering every 15 minutes or so, so he stayed onsite for the duration of the storm to monitor the equipment. A tree fell near the Radcliffe pump station knocking out electricity and the generator ran for a while. He had to monitor the pumps to see that everything worked correctly when it switched back to the grid.
Mr. Sipes stated that the format for Funds on Hand had been modified and said he would be happy to change it again if the Council wanted to see things shown differently. Ms. Kuiper and Mr. Stetson stated that they would like to see the capital funds listed. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the monthly funds on hand reports was only a fairly accurate measure of the exact funds on hand because some financial reports for the month being reported were not actually received when the first monthly meeting is held.
Mayor Cerino asked where the Utilities Department was on mapping out the water lines. Mr. Sipes stated that he still was trying to find a better way to do the mapping. He said that he put out a bid for an RFP but he was not satisfied with what was outlined in that bid. He said it did not go into the detail that he wanted in a finished product.
Mr. Foster asked if the mapping included wastewater. Mr. Sipes stated that the wastewater mapping was finished and cross-referenced with manholes. He said that the water layer is what he wanted to map. Mr. Sipes stated that when he retired he wanted a complete set of maps so anyone in Town could find the lines.
Mayor Cerino asked if the study could provide an indication of the quality of the lines. Mr. Sipes stated that the quality of lines would be a guess, but the historic area of Town is rolled steel from the bridge to Bennett’s and ball and socket pipe from Bennett’s to Route 213. There were different types of pipe all through Town but their type was not identified. He said that materials and their classification of quality would require excavation, which was extremely expensive.
Mayor Cerino asked if Mr. Sipes had an idea what a study would cost. Mr. Sipes stated that it would depend on what was included in the study, but he thought it could range from $50,000.00 to $120,000.00. Mr. Sipes stated that MES was looking for grants for the project for Chestertown. Mayor Cerino asked if capital funds could be used for the project if grant funding was available. Mr. Sipes stated that he hoped capital funds could be used for the project, but the study could also be performed in phases over a few years paid for as part of the annual budget.
Mr. Foster asked if there were studies on leakage rates in the older lines. Mr. Sipes stated that the only readings he had was the comparison of water usage and flow coming into the wastewater treatment plant and that was not accurate during rain events and outside water usage in the warmer months. Mr. Sipes stated that he had “I and I” (Inflow and Infiltration) averages for a municipality the size of Chestertown and knew that Chestertown ran on the lower than average range for its sewer lines.
Mr. Sipes stated that the national use for an individual is 250 gallons per house, 100 gallons per person per day, all inclusive. He said that the right now the Town produces 550,000 gallons per day. The national average would be 630,000 gallons per day.
Ms. Kuiper stated that she just noticed that the capital funds were not listed on the cash report. Mr. Sipes stated that he was trying to make the report easier to understand. He said that they think of the funds as a separate block of money that exists in its own account and was unrelated to any other money, but the money was actually part of the general pool in the bank. Ms. Kuiper stated the funds needed to be set aside. Mr. Sipes stated that the funds were set aside, but not necessarily on the report. He said that the report showed total money in the bank, and not set aside in line items. Mr. Sipes said that Ms. Fairbank told him a decision was made not to put the capital funds on the report. Mr. Stetson stated that the capital funds were shown before and he did not remember the Council saying that they did not want them shown. The Council agreed that they would like to see the capital funds back on the report.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that he removed the capital funds item off of the latest report because it was listed as half of the funds in the Utilities checking account in the previous month. This type of error rendered the report of capital funds as meaningless, hence his removal of it in that form. He said it could be put back on the report but it should be as a notation as to its estimated value at the bottom of the Cash on Hand Report. He stated that not even the Cash on Hand Report is absolutely accurate, because bank monthly statements are received after the monthly Utilities meeting and the figures naturally change. He said that the Funds on Hand is a thumbnail sketch but is a good way of gauging the relative financial strength of the Utilities when looked at the same time each month.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the most important thing was that the Utilities Department was much healthier financially then they were a few years ago, with rates set at a good level and new construction on the horizon. Ms. Kuiper stated that if the Council had to vote on expenditures in the capital funds they needed to know how much was there. Mr. Ingersoll stated that the annual budget should dictate the actual capital expenditures with the exception of real emergencies.
Mr. Sipes stated that he was aware that any capital funds to be spent required the approval of the Mayor and Council. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there is an unwritten comfort zone of keeping the account at about $1 million set aside in a capital fund, but they should notice early in any billing quarter the Utilities department is very healthy, (almost like the Mayor and Council when taxes come in September) but it changes two or three months later as the quarter winds down. He said that on this report he is now showing last month’s figures and this month’s so in any quarter the Council could see what how the Utilities Department is doing financially. He said that he would record the approximate capital set aside as a notation at the bottom of the page of the next report.
There being no further business, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:49 p.m. was seconded by Rev. Tolliver and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor