UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
OCTOBER 3, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Council members Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz. Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Utilities Commission meeting of September 6, 2022. Ms. Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Utilities Commission meeting of the September 6, 2022 as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that funds on hand for the Utilities Commission was $2,495,035.74 with designated capital funds set aside for capital projects in the amount of $1,425,923.68.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to pay the bills. Mr. O’Brien moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that the bills reflect a number of purchases for a pump station, for meter parts, phosphate, and paint among other large items that were necessary for the department.
Mr. Sipes stated that the Apex report was received, and he said he compared it with the quarterly reports and the numbers are remarkably good showing a low level of contamination and no flow to Brown Street. Mayor Foster stated that the Hospital has the pump and treat system shut down and Apex was sampling on behalf of the Town to see if any contaminants were moving toward the Town wells. Mr. Sipes stated that any oil that has moved is on the Hospital site and the risk is low that anything would move offsite. He said that natural attenuation was apparently taking place and that is why there is a decrease in the amount showing in groundwater sampling.
Mayor Foster stated that the question came who is responsible for the repair of sewer laterals if there was a problem with the line. Mr. Sipes stated that the lateral from the main to the house is owned by the homeowner and the cost for repair is the homeowner’s responsibility. Mayor Foster stated that complaints about the issue are continual because the homeowner does not have control over what happens to an underground line if there is a problem.
Mr. Sipes stated that he understood the issue but the lines under the street have been the homeowner’s responsibility since water and sewer was installed. The Town will repair or replace any laterals located under the street rights of way for the cost of the material only, with a cap of $1,500.00. This includes replacing water and sewer lines at the same time. He said that the lifespan of a water line was 40 to 50 years.
Mr. Sipes stated that sometimes the cost is $700.00 to the owner or sometimes it exceeds $1,500.00 but the Town caps cost at $1,500.00. He said that they perform about 26 of these jobs per year due to necessity and offer payment plans over a year to help offset the expense to any homeowner. Mr. Sipes stated that Chestertown has the lowest water and sewer rates in the State of Maryland, and that this cost to a homeowner if there was a problem was nominal.
Mr. Sipes stated that if the Council was going to proceed with changing the law in place, he would suggest a trial run to see who was demanding replacement. He said that cost sharing effectively reduces the amount charged by the Town and the State provides help for low-income residents.
Mr. O’Brien stated that he would like to look into the matter further before deciding how to move forward.
There being no further business, Mr. Herz moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:22 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.