Minutes of the April 16, 2015 Meeting of the

Representative Advisory Board to the

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

Montville Public Safety Building

911 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville, CT

 

 

 

1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

Chairman Allen called the meeting to order at approximately 7:00 p.m.

Present: 
Representative Advisory Board: (RAB) Members:   Stephen Coit, Bozrah; Carol Russell, East Lyme; Thomas Seidel, Franklin; Dean Antipas and Mary Lou Smith, Groton;  Timothy Norris, Ledyard; John Geary and Anthony Siragusa, Montville; Barry Weiner, New London; James Fogarty, Salem;

Chairman Dennison Allen, Sprague; Kristen Widham, Waterford. 
 

Authority Members:  Chairman Edward Monahan, Vice-Chairman Harry Watson, Treasurer Paul Eccard, Barbara Lee Franciosi, Peter Balestracci, and Michael O’Connor. 

 

Authority Staff:   Gregory Leonard, Outgoing General Manager; Josh Cansler, Incoming General Manager

 

2.  Public Comment  - None.

3.  Approval of Prior Minutes – Vote Required

On motion of Ms. Russell, seconded by Mr. Geary, the minutes of the January 15, 2015 meeting were unanimously approved, as distributed.  (Mr. Fogarty, Mr. Siragusa, and Mr. Seidel abstained). 

 

4.  Report By The Authority Chairman

Dr. Monahan presented the Authority report, with highlights as follows: 

 

Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC)

The Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) has announced that it has completed the realignment of the geographical boundaries of the WUCC management areas.  The number of management areas has been decreased from seven (7) to three (3):  Western, Central and Eastern.    According to DPH, the Western management area will be the first to be addressed.  The SCCOG Regional Water Committee has requested DPH to address the Eastern management area first.  In that regard, SCWA submitted a letter to the SCCOG Chairman, signed by the SCWA Chairman and General Manager, offering support of SCCOG’s efforts to persuade DPH to alter the sequence of convening the WUCC in the State’s three public water supply management areas. 

 

SCWA Interaction With SCCOG 

SCWA and the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) continue to interact cooperatively.  To this end, Chairman Monahan routinely attends the regular monthly SCCOG meetings and frequently the SCCOG Regional Water Committee meetings as well.

 

SCWA’s General Manager is participating on the SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS).  SCWA welcomes this opportunity to assist SCCOG on technical matters. 

 

Water Planning Council – Advisory Group

SCWA’s General Manager continues to serve as a member of the Advisory Group to the Connecticut Water Planning Council (WPC).  The WPC consists of a member from each of the following state agencies:  Office of the Policy & Management, Department of Public Health, Public Utility Regulatory Authority, and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection.  The WPC has recently been mandated by the Connecticut General Assembly, via Public Act 14-163, to develop a comprehensive state water plan by January 1, 2018.  This mandate heightens the significance of the WPC’s role in water supply planning. 

 

Town of North Stonington – STEAP Grant

The Town of North Stonington has been awarded a Small Town Economic Assistance Program (STEAP) grant of $245,400, from the State of Connecticut, to extend SCWA’s water distribution system.  The grant will be used to extend the water main further into the Village of North Stonington and to the proposed new Center for Emergency Services.  The project will entail the installation of 1500 feet of water main.  SCWA has been working with the Design/Engineer Firm to assist with planning the main extension and Emergency Center water system.

 

Waterworks Foreman Position

Wayne Thompson, SCWA Foreman/Chief Operator, retired on December 26, 2014, after 33 stellar years at SCWA.  Mr. Cansler and Mr. Leonard interviewed 4 candidates for the vacancy between 10-20 February, and based on the candidate interviews and qualifications, offered the foreman position to

Mr. Brandon Belair, who was already working for SCWA as a water works technician.  Mr. Belair’s promotion to foreman resulted in a water works technician vacancy.  After conducting interviews

March 18-20, SCWA decided to fill the water works technician vacancy with Mr. Chip Rickey.  He started work on April 13, 2015.

 

FY15 Independent Audit

The RAB has not yet selected the auditor for FY 2015.  The auditing firm of CohnReznick (New London office) has proposed a fee of $14,250, an increase of $750 from last year.  By May 29, 2015 SCWA is required to notify the Connecticut Office of Policy and Management of the firm designated to conduct the independent audit.   Since this topic was already listed as a later agenda item the Board deferred further discussion until later in the meeting.

 

Electronic Billing and Payment

SCWA has been researching the possibility of upgrading our billing software to allow customers to pay electronically via debit card, credit card, or bank transfer.  Software upgrades will also allow customers the option of receiving their bills electronically (e-billing).  In March SCWA received estimates to upgrade our existing billing software to provide online billing, payment, and credit card modules.  At the

April 6, 2015 Water Authority Board meeting the Board authorized the General Manager to enter into an agreement, at a cost of $8500, to upgrade our existing billing software, which is provided by CUSI (Continental Utility Solutions Inc).  Dr. Monahan stated that this upgrade, which will occur in the month of May, will offer credit/debit card payments, bank transfer payments, recurring payment options, and paperless billing.  Simultaneously SCWA is in the process of changing our website to allow more user friendly interface, and a Facebook page, which will link to the SCWA web site.

 

 

 

General Manager Position

Mr. Gregory Leonard has retired after almost 22 years as the SCWA General Manager.  He remained with SCWA in the temporary position of Assistant to the General Manager.  This arrangement facilitated the smooth transition between general managers.  Mr. Leonard remains available to assist SCWA, as needed.   Dr. Monahan requested that the Representative Advisory Board recognize Mr. Leonard for his many distinguished years of service to SCWA.  Dr. Monahan and Chairman Allen presented Mr. Leonard with an engraved clock on behalf of SCWA.  Mr. Leonard expressed his thanks and gratitude to the Board.  He then introduced his replacement, Mr. Joseph (Josh) Cansler, who began his tenure on

January 26, 2015.  

 

5.  Report by the Chairman of the Representative Advisory Board - None

 

6.  Selection of Independent Auditor for FY 2015

Based on the recommendation of the Authority, Mr. Antipas made a motion to retain the services of CohnReznick, at their proposed a fee of $14,250, to conduct SCWA’s Independent Audit for FY 15.  This motion was seconded by Mr. Weiner.  Several members of the Board questioned using the same auditor again.  This was followed by discussion of whether there was enough time to go through the RFP/Bidding process to see if there were other auditors interested in conducting the SCWA audit. 

Mr. Leonard stated there was not enough time for the FY 15 audit.  After more discussion the RAB recommended that SCWA request CohnReznick to submit a proposal for the follow-on after FY 15.  After more discussion regarding the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the same auditor on board year after year, the RAB voted unanimously to retain the services of CohnReznick for the FY 15 audit, with future years to be discussed after receiving a submittal for FY 16 through FY 18.

 

7.  Representative Advisory Board Member Reports - None

 

8.  New Business   - None

 

9.  Adjourn

On motion of Ms. Smith, seconded by Ms. Widham, the meeting adjourned at approximately

7:35 p.m.

 

 

                                                                                                                Josh Cansler, Secretary

                                                                                                                Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority