Minutes of the April 20, 2017 Meeting of the
Representative Advisory Board to the
Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority
Groton Public Library
52 Newtown Rd, Groton, CT 06340
1. Call to Order and Roll Call
Chairman Allen called the meeting to order at approximately 7:05 p.m. Based on the fact that a majority of the municipalities with appointed representatives were represented (9 of 16), this meeting met the requirements for a quorum, according to the bylaws.
Representative Advisory Board: (RAB) Members: Carol Russell, East Lyme; Martin Artale Jr., Groton (City); Dean Antipas and Mary Lou Smith, Groton (Town); Anthony Siragusa, Montville; Jerry Morales, Preston; James Fogarty and George Jackson, Salem; Chairman Dennison Allen, Sprague; Jeffrey Callahan and Michael Adair, Stonington Borough; Kristen Widham, Waterford.
Authority Members: Chairman Edward Monahan, Vice-Chairman Harry Watson,Treasurer Paul Eccard, Peter Balestracci and Barbara Lee Franciosi.
Authority Staff: General Manager Josh Cansler
2. Public Comment - None.
3. Approval of Prior Minutes
Mr. Jackson made a motion to add an agenda item for approval of the prior meeting minutes. This motion, seconded by Mr. Morales, was unanimously approved.
On a motion of Mr. Callahan, seconded by Mr. Artale, the minutes of the January 19, 2017 meeting were unanimously approved, as distributed.
4. Report by the Authority Chairman
Dr. Monahan presented the Authority report, with highlights as follows:
I. Operational Activities
A. Extension of Services on Fairway Drive/Thames Aquatic Center -Ledyard
SCWA continues to work with the Town of Ledyard, and the Ledyard WPCA, regarding support of the proposed Thames Aquatic Center project, as well as the proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center; both of which are in the SCWA Exclusive Service Area. Although SCWA has proposed several alternatives to provide water from our Ledyard Center system, the developer requested approval from DPH to install a well on the proposed site. Last month, DPH disapproved the well application, based on the proximity of our water main to the proposed Aquatic Center site. The developer, and the Town of Ledyard, responded back to DPH in late March asking for reconsideration of their well application.
On April 4th, Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler attended a meeting at the Town of Ledyard with Lori Mathieu, Chief of the DPH Drinking Water Section. After discussion regarding the various alternatives for water to the proposed Aquatic Center site, DPH decided to support the well, with the stipulation that the Aquatic Center connect to the water main on Fairway Drive extension, once it is installed, and that the Aquatic Center use SCWA for all required testing and monitoring of the well.
B. Emergency Interconnections with Ledyard WPCA/Groton Utilities
At the April 4th meeting in Ledyard, Lori Mathieu announced that DPH was working on a DWSRF funding package with Groton Utilities to support replacement of their water treatment plant. As part of the funding package Groton Utilities will install several emergency water main interconnections with other water utilities in the region, to include SCWA. These would include interconnections between the five SCWA Ledyard divisions and the Ledyard WPCA system, which is currently operated by Groton Utilities. A Consent Agreement formalizing the use of the emergency interconnections, and future operations, will be negotiated between DPH, and the affected water utilities, later this summer.
Dr. Monahan stated that he has seen a copy of a Letter of Intent from Groton Utilities to DPH, which lists possible future consolidation planning as a benefit of installing the emergency interconnections with adjoining utilities, to include SCWA. DPH has indicated that over the next few months they would like to negotiate a Consent Agreement with SCWA, and other utilities in southeastern Connecticut, regarding future regional consolidation.
C. DWSRF Emergency Generator Program
Through the DPH Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, SCWA received approval for three emergency generator projects. This program provides a 45% grant for new generators, a 25% grant for replacement of old generators, and no interest loans for the remaining costs. After going through a public bidding process, the Authority approved acceptance of the following low bids, from qualified contractors, at their regular meeting in February:
- $94,107 to install a new generator project for the Tower Small pump station.
- $74,627 to replace the generator at Montville Manor.
- $66,000, to replace the generator at the Chesterfield Division.
The RFP, bids, and other required paperwork were sent to DPH in February requesting approval of our Request to Commence Work, along with the applicable DWSRF funding.
D. DWSRF Call for Projects
The State DPH Drinking Water Section issued a call for future DWSRF projects in mid-February, with a submittal date of April 28, 2017. Financing through the DWSRF includes a low-interest loan with the potential for subsidization for eligible projects in the form of principal forgiveness to the extent allowed by Federal and/or State law. SCWA is working with Lenard Engineering to prepare application packages and concept designs for three projects:
- Renovation of Tower Division Pump Station in Ledyard.
- Interconnection between Montville Manor and Seven Oaks systems.
- Expansion of the Ledyard system along proposed Fairway Drive extension.
II. Planning Activities
A. Expansion of Jensen Communities near Hillcrest Division, Montville
Jensen Communities, which developed the Hillcrest subdivision of Montville, is in the approval process for an adjoining development called “Millwood at Old Colchester Road”. The proposed development will have 46 homes for people 55 and older, and will tie into the existing SCWA Hillcrest water distribution system.
B. Water Supply Plan Update
Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement with DPH, SCWA is required to submit an updated Water Supply Plan to DPH no later than January 1, 2018. After soliciting bids from several engineering firms that are experienced with the development of Water Supply Plans in the State of Connecticut, the Authority authorized the General Manager to award the development of the updated SCWA Water Supply Plan to Lenard Engineering, based on price and experience with SCWA systems. The General Manager and Lenard Engineering are meeting monthly to consolidate and review data required in the updated Water Supply Plan.
C. Drought Issues - Montville
Despite the recent heavy rains, New London and Windham counties are still under a Drought Advisory. The rest of Connecticut is under a Drought Watch, which is the second stage in the State’s Drought Plan. None of the SCWA divisions have experienced any drought related problems since last August, when outside water restrictions were implemented at the Montville Manor Division.
D. State Water Plan and Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC)
The Eastern Connecticut WUCC officially convened in June 2016. WUCC member meetings are held every second Wednesday of the month, and are open to the public. Meetings are held either at the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) offices in Norwich, or the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG) offices in Killingly. Dr. Monahan mentioned that there used to be seven WUCC areas in the past, but the State has now consolidated down to three WUCCs.
E. SCWA Interaction with SCCOG
SCWA and the 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.
Ms. Russell asked what the difference was in the two COG committees. Dr. Monahan explained that the SCCOG Regional Water Committee included several local municipal leaders. The TAS is a technical subcommittee of the SCCOG Regional Water Committee, and is made up of regional water utility directors.
III. Administrative Activities
In mid-February SCWA was informed that the audit firm we are currently using, CohnReznick, will no longer be providing governmental/municipal auditing services. As a result, our point of contact with CohnReznick, Mr. Joe Centofanti, has moved to the Auditing Agency PKF O’Conner-Davies. Mr. Centofanti sent a proposal to SCWA in March stating that PKF O’Conner-Davies would like to provide the same professional auditing services, at the same prices, as quoted by CohnReznick for the SCWA 2017 and 2018 Annual Audits. General Manager Cansler explained that any change to the audit firm would have to be made by the SCWA Representative Advisory Board (RAB).
Based on advice from Authority member Mr. Mullane, SCWA reached out to the auditor used by the Town of North Stonington, and several other municipalities in Connecticut, Sandra Welwood, LLC. Mr. Cansler also reached out for proposals from other former CohnReznick employees that SCWA has worked with in the past. Unfortunately they were not able to submit proposals because of past client agreements made with CohnReznick when they departed.
As a result SCWA has obtained two proposals for RAB consideration. Section 4(b) of ACT 381 (1967), an Act establishing a Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, requires that the RAB “select the certified public accountant to conduct the annual audit of the accounts, books and records of the authority”. At the April meeting the Authority endorsed a recommendation to the Representative Advisory Board that Sandra Welwood, LLC, be selected to conduct the next three Annual Audits.
a). PKF O’Connor-Davies Proposed Fee
FY 2017 Audit $16,225
FY 2018 Audit $16,700
b). Sandra Welwood, LLC Proposed Fee
FY 2017 Audit $11,500
FY 2018 Audit $11,500
FY 2019 Audit $11,500
5. Report by the Chairman of the Representative Advisory Board
Chairman Dennison stated that the RAB still had two vacancies on the Finance Committee, including the Committee Chairman position. He said that after the last RAB meeting, Member Rodney Bowie had volunteered to serve on the Finance Committee. Chairman Dennison stated that unless there was any opposition, he was appointing Mr. Bowie to the Finance Committee, as the Finance Committee Chair. Article VI of the bylaws states that committee members shall be appointed by the Officers of the RAB, and shall serve until their successors have been appointed.
6. Discussion of Independent Auditor Selection Process
Based on the information presented during the Authority Chairman’s Report regarding the Independent Auditor, Ms. Smith made a motion, seconded by Mr. Antipas, to appoint Sandra Welwood, LLC, as the SCWA Independent Auditor for the next three years. Chairman Dennison asked if there was any discussion on this motion.
Ms. Russell asked if we had to keep Sandra Welwood LLC for three years if we are not satisfied with her performance after the first year. Several other members echoed similar concerns. There were several suggestions to either appoint the auditor for one year, with two option years, or include language in the contract that gave SCWA the ability terminate the agreement after one year. After discussions regarding the practicality of these two options, and the merits of each, Mr. Jackson made a motion, seconded by Mr. Callahan, to amend the first motion to appoint the auditor for one year, with an option for two more years at the same price as the first two years.
Dr. Monahan pointed out that SCWA has to submit the name of the Auditor to the State in May, and since there are no more scheduled RAB meetings until July, this puts SCWA in a bind if the selected Auditor does not agree to the new terms. He recommended that the RAB give the General Manager the authority to negotiate the terms of the contract with the auditor. After some discussion the RAB agreed, though it was pointed out that there was still an amended motion on the floor. Chairman Dennison brought the amended motion to a vote, and it was disapproved with zero yeas, 11 nays, and one abstention. Mr. Callahan then made a motion for the RAB to authorize the General Manager to negotiate the terms of the contract with Sandra Welwood, LLC, based on the concerns and expectations expressed by the RAB members during the discussion about the Independent Auditor. This motion, seconded by Mr. Jackson, was approved unanimously by all members present.
7. Appointment Committee Report
Mr. Callahan reported that the Authority had one member (Ms. Franciosi) whose 5-year term had expired. He stated she was interested in serving another term. He said the Appointment Committee had not received any other nominations, and asked if anyone on the RAB wanted to make a nomination. Mr. Callahan then made a motion to re-appoint Ms. Barbara Franciosi to serve as an Authority member, for another 5-year term. This motion, seconded by Mr. Fogarty, was unanimously approved by the Representative Advisory Board.
8. Representative Advisory Board Member Reports
Vice-Chairman Dean Antipas announced that Member Kristen Widham submitted her resignation from the Representative Advisory Board, to him, during the meeting. He mentioned that her resignation now leaves the RAB without representation from Waterford.
9. New Business - none
On motion of Mr. Fogarty, seconded by Mr. Jackson, the meeting adjourned at approx. 7:57 p.m.
Josh Cansler, Secretary
Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority