CHESTERTOWN UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
NOVEMBER 7, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 pm. In attendance were Councilmembers Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, W. S. Ingersoll (Town Manager) and guests. Jen McCann (Town Clerk) was absent.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting of October 3, 2022. Meghan Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Utilities Commission meeting on October 3, 2022.
Tom Herz seconded the motion and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that the operating funds on hand were $2,713,170.17. He asked for a motion to pay the bills.
Tim O’Brien made a motion to pay the bills was seconded by Meghan Efland and carried unanimously.
The Mayor called on Bob Sipes for his report. Mr. Sipes said that they had another PFAS sampled at the water plant. This time it was a point of entry sample, which would reflect what’s actually in the drinking water. Though the test results were not back, when they were they would be better equipped to plan for possible treatment and removal.
The Mayor asked if Mr. Sipes was referring to forever chemicals. Mr. Sipes said yeas and he had the proposed limits would not just be for the drinking water. These limits will also eventually apply to the wastewater. He said the PFAS chemicals exist in the environment and they’re going to be there until steps are taken to remove them.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that on the subject of PFAS, the Town has received a proposed legal services agreement to be represented to seek funding from the companies that produced the PFAS chemicals for the damages suffered due to the chemicals. He said it was similar to the legal services agreement that the Town of Chestertown entered that resulted in the Town receiving a $500,000 settlement amount. Mr. Sipes said he thought the Town should join the legal action to try to get enough to cover whatever the treatment is going to be determined by our PFAS test results. He said there were between 2000 and 5000 PFAS chemicals and not all of them are removable with charcoal filtration.
Mr. Ingersoll asked the Council if they were interested in joining the legal action by authorizing the Mayor to sign the legal services agreement. Ms. Efland noted that they had not yet seen the document. Mr. Ingersoll stated that he was worried that there might be a time limit for getting into the class action suit. The document had been vetted and recommended by both Michael Forlini and the Town Attorney. He said he could distribute the paperwork but was hoping that the Commission could authorize the Mayor to sign it pending their review.
Mr. Sipes noted that the attorney’s handling this matter were the same firm that did the MTBE settlement (Baron & Budd) and felt that the Town will be well represented. Mr. O’Brien stated that the issue was not on the agenda and a discussion ensued concerning deadlines for joining, the timing issue with the Utilities Commission only meeting once a month, the previous review and approval by two of the Town’s attorneys.
Mr. Ingersoll stated that the most important reason he had for bringing the subject up at the meeting was to have Mr. Sipes give the Commission his recommendations on the proposed action. After that, the only issue was whether there was a deadline for joining. Mayor Foster asked it there a cost to join and Mr. O’Brien wondered if there were other municipalities involved in it. Mr. Ingersoll stated that there was no cost to participate and there would be many municipalities in the action.
David Foster said that he would recommend that the Commission go ahead and authorize it. No one had any objections to authorizing it. Tom Herz asked if a motion was needed. Tim O’Brien stated that it was not on the agenda and for that reason no motion should be made. However, he had not objections to proceeding as discussed.
Mayor Foster stated that the minutes would reflect no objections would give Mr. Ingersoll the authorization to sign the documents.
Bob Sipes reported that the filters his department had been painting, and rehabbing were done and were back online. He said that they also picked up a new truck. Trucks were getting very difficult to find and had gotten a lot more expensive. The price of his truck in 2015 was 34,000. The same truck today costs 45,000. The truck(s) that the new one replaces would be cleaned and sold on Maryland Marketplace. We have two vehicles now that are excess.
Mr. Sipes reported tours of the wastewater treatment plant again for college students studying engineering. The paving for utilities repairs would be done starting the day after the meeting. Mr. Ingersoll mentioned some previous work on the 100 South of Cross Street that needed repair. Ms. Efland reminded Mr. Sipes of the Campus Avenue patch needed near the Middle School.
Tim O’Brien wanted to confirm that Mr. Sipes was award of a leaky hydrant at 220 Richard Drive. Mr. Sipes stated that it was really a service line issue but that he was aware of it. He said that those types of leaks typically get worse over time but this one has been leaking the same small same amount for two years. His men have checked the homeowner’s meter and it’s not the meter but more likely a corporation or a curb stop valve and their plan was to look at it the day after the meeting.
Mr. Herz asked if any all of the Council were invited to virtual hospital oil spill meeting on November 10th from 830 a.m. to 1030 a.m. Mayor Foster said that in the past it has just been the Mayor. It was agreed that if any other Councilmembers wanted to attend that they probably could.
Mr. Sipes said that was his report. The Mayor asked if there were any other questions for Mr. Sipes. There being none, Ms. Efland made a motion to adjourn the Utilities Commission meeting was seconded by Mr. Herz and passed unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
W.S. Ingersoll David Foster
Town Manager Mayor